Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Some Women Worry More About Cancer Recurrence Than Others

MONDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Some women who've been treated for early-stage breast cancer are more likely than others to worry excessively that the cancer will return, a new study has found.
This type of anxiety, the researchers say, can compromise a woman's medical care and quality of life.
"How much women worry about recurrence is often not aligned with their actual risk for cancer recurrence," study author Nancy Janz, of the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said in a news release from Cancer, which published the findings online March 28.
For most women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, the risk for recurrence is low. Nonetheless, many worry a lot, and "we need to better understand the factors that increase the likelihood that women will worry and develop strategies and appropriate referrals to help women with excessive worry," Janz said.
The study included 2,290 women diagnosed with non-metastatic breast cancer between June 2005 and February 2007.
Those found to be least likely to worry about cancer recurrence included women who were more easily able to understand clinical information presented to them, who had fewer symptoms and who received more coordinated care.
Factors associated with higher levels of worry included being younger, having a job, experiencing more pain and fatigue and undergoing radiation treatment.
The researchers also found that Hispanic women who were less acclimated to the U.S. culture were particularly vulnerable to high levels of worry and that black women experienced much less worry than did women of other races and ethnic backgrounds.
To help ease their worries, Janz said, programs developed to help women who've been through breast cancer treatment should be culturally sensitive and reflect differences in women's communication style, social support and coping strategies.
More information
The American Cancer Society has more about breast cancer.

Japan's nuclear contamination spreads to more U.S. states

Very small levels of radiation from Japan have been detected in at least 15 states -- it's not a health concern, according to EPA.

(CNN) -- Minuscule levels of radiation from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant incident have been detected in a widening number of U.S. states, but the Environmental Protection Agency reaffirmed this week that the levels represent no threat to public health.

"To date, data from EPA's real-time radiation air monitoring networks continue to show typical fluctuations in background radiation levels," Jonathan Edwards, director of the EPA's Radiation Protection Division, said in a statement Monday. "The levels we are seeing are far below any levels of concern."

At least 15 states reported detecting radioisotopes in air or water or both. No states have recommended that residents take potassium iodide, a salt that protects the thyroid gland from radioactive iodine.

Progress Energy reported over the weekend that iodine-131 was detected in the air near its nuclear power plants near Hartsville, South Carolina, and Crystal River, Florida.

"We know that it's not coming from our plant," said Progress spokesman Drew Elliot. Had the U.S. nuclear plants been responsible for the radioactive iodine, other isotopes would also have been found, he said. The levels detected were so low that authorities do not require they be reported, he said.

Sensors in Maryland have also reported elevated levels of I-131 in air samples. "None of these levels pose a risk to health," the state's Department of Health said. The Maryland secretary of health said Monday that microscopic amounts were also discovered Friday in rainwater. He said the levels found posed no risk to public health.

The Massachusetts Department of Health said Sunday that a monitoring station in Boston detected I-131 in rainwater on March 22, but had not detected any in air. In a question-and-answer page on its website, it says the amount detected should not concern residents.

On Monday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett said rainwater collected Friday from his state's nuclear power plant facilities contained low levels of iodine-131 "likely originating from the events at Japan's damaged nuclear plants. But weekend tests of drinking water found no elevated levels of radioactivity."

The levels reported "are still about 25 times below the level that would be of concern," Corbett's office said in a statement.

Similar testing in other states, including California and Washington, has shown comparable levels of iodine-131 in rainwater samples.

Trace detections were found in the air in Oregon, Colorado and California.

Duke Energy spokeswoman Rita Sipe said Duke Energy had detected trace radioactive elements, likely to have originated from Japan's Fukushima plant, in North Carolina and South Carolina -- but at a level "far below" reporting requirements.

EPA is using the nationwide radiation monitoring system, RadNet, to monitor the nation's air and drinking water, milk and precipitation. An analysis from 12 monitors nationwide found "slightly higher" levels of radioactive isotopes in Alaska, Alabama, California, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Saipan, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Washington state over the past week, the agency said.

"Some of the filter results show levels slightly higher than those found by EPA monitors last week and a Department of Energy monitor the week before," the agency said. "These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days and are still far below levels of public health concern."

A spokeswoman for the EPA said Monday that 90 percent of the 124 RadNet monitors were working.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Japan will face extraordinary health challenges after tsunami

Public health officials in Japan will face a host of unusual infections and trauma injuries, those with experience in the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake say.

After the surging ocean waters spawned by Japan's magnitude 8.9 earthquake receded, the drowned were only the first victims to be counted.

In the coming days, physicians and public health officials along Japan's hard-hit eastern coast can expect a second wave of tsunami victims with aspiration-related illnesses, trauma and crush wounds, as well as the threat of disease spread by contaminated water.

As they tend to survivors, Japanese officials can look to the experience of health workers who ministered to victims after the massive tsunami that inundated Indian Ocean nations on Dec. 26, 2004.

Writing to colleagues in the New England Journal of Medicine, physicians at a regional hospital in Phangnga, Thailand, noted that although drowning is responsible for most of the fatalities, a tsunami also inflicts head injuries, fractures and cuts as it slams together debris, people and stationary objects. In the week after the 2004 tsunami, physicians at Takuapa General Hospital treated 2,285 patients with trauma, with 11% of those cases categorized as serious and 17% considered intermediate.

Many surgical patients developed foul-smelling infections that had to be treated with an amoebicide and anti-protozoal medication in addition to normal antibiotics, the doctors reported.

A 2005 report by German physicians who cared for 17 critically injured tsunami victims listed some of the unusual strains of bacteria that had colonized the wounds. Many of those strains are resistant to multiple front-line antibiotics, they wrote in the journal Critical Care Medicine.

The flesh surrounding tsunami victims' wounds has often been crushed by falling or floating debris, cutting off blood supply and causing muscle to die, said Dr. Lee Weiss, regional medical director of Emergent Medical Associates in Manhattan Beach. Once victims reach a hospital, amputation is often the only option.

Public health officials often struggle with water treatment and distribution systems that have been contaminated by ocean water and by oil, gas, pesticides and decaying bodies carried inland by the waves.

"There's a very high likelihood of cross-contamination of waste water and treated water," said civil engineer Kripa Singh of the University of New Brunswick in Canada.

Though cholera and typhoid are unlikely in a country as developed as Japan, outbreaks can happen, Weiss said. Even run-of-the-mill gastrointestinal illnesses from contaminated water can make life miserable for uprooted and often grieving victims, he added.

Monday, March 21, 2011

How to protect yourself against nuclear radiation

Just in case......

In 1945, at the time of the atomic bombing of Japan, Tatsuichiro Akizuki, M.D. was Director of the Department of Internal Medicine at St. Francis's Hospital in Nagasaki. Most patients in the hospital, located one mile from the center of the blast, survived the initial effects of the bomb, but soon after came down with symptoms of radiation sickness from the fallout that has been released.

Dr. Akizuki fed his staff and patients a strict diet of brown rice, miso and tamari soy soup, wakame, kombu and other seaweed, Hokkaido pumpkin, and sea salt and prohibited the consumption of sugar and sweets.

As a result, he saved everyone in his hospital, while many other survivors perished from radiation sickness. 

Source: Tatsuichiro Akuziki, M.D. Nagasaki 1945, London Quarter books, 1981. (Brown rice, miso, Sea vegetables, Salt)

In 1968 Canadian researchers reported that sea vegetables contained a polysaccharide substance that selectively bound radioactive strontium and helped eliminate it from the body. In laboratory experiments, sodium alginate prepared from kelp, kombu, and other brown seaweeds off the Atlantic and pacific coasts was introduced along with strontium and calcium into rats. The reduction of radioactive particles in bone uptake, measured in the femur, reached as high as 80%, with little interference with calcium absorption.

The evaluation of biological activity of different marine algae is important because of their practical significance in preventing absorption of radioactive products of atomic fission as well as in their use as possible natural decontaminators. 

Source: Y. Tanaka et. Al. " Studies on Inhibition of Intestinal Absorption of Radioactive Strontium", Canadian Medical Association Journal 99: 169-75. (Sea Vegetables)


Whole grains help to protect us from the deleterious health effects of radiation exposure in five ways:

1) Grains are low on the food chain. Although they may have been exposed to pollution and radiation, they do not have the concentration of contaminants that is found in meat and large fish, which are at the top of the food chain.

2) Important with respect to radiation protection is the high fiber and phosphorous contents in grains. The binding ability of these substances helps the body to remove poisons.

3) The bulking factor of grains lessens the intestinal transit time and so hasten the elimination of all toxins.

4) Being neither very acid nor very alkaline, grains help us to maintain the middle-range pH that has been found to increase our resistance to radiation.

5) Whole grains provide vitamin B6, which is indispensable for the thymus. In addition, their calcium content guards against uptake of radioactive strontium, and their vitamin E and selenium prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals.


1) Refined, genetic modified and processed foods

2) Fatty foods (meat, dairy products)

3) Simple sugars (white sugar), soft drinks

Source: Diet for the Atomic Age by Sara Shannon-Avery Publishing Group Inc., Wayne, New Jersey.

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