Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Carry a Card!

I just read a CNN article on food allergy travel telling us we can order cards from SelectWisely.com that will list our food allergies in a foreign language. They also have emergency cards for conditions like diabetes.

Food allergy cards are also available at AllergyTranslation.com.

Another good idea is to carry a Medical ID card. You can order them online (at ebay, for instance) or print one yourself. See this form at State Farm's site.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Antibacterial Soap Not So Good

Care2 has an interesting story on "The Trouble with Triclosan in Your Soap." Aside from the basic uselessness of antibacterials in hand soap, read this paragraph:

"Antibacterial resistance is not the only health concern associated with triclosan. The increased use of antibacterials in general has been linked to increased allergies in children. Further studies specific to triclosan have shown that it affects reproduction in lab animals, produces toxic chemicals such as dioxin and chloroform when it reacts with other chemicals like the chlorine in water, irritates skin in humans and might even cause cancer. New laboratory studies on rats and frogs show that triclosan can disrupt thyroid hormone, alter development and impair important functions at the cellular level. And a study by British researchers found that triclosan has estrogenic and androgenic hormone properties and exposure could potentially contribute to the development of breast cancer."

Unfortunately, it's easier to find liquid soaps that contain antibacterial chemicals than to find them without them.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Encouraging Results on the PSA Score

In April, I wrote about my husband's PSA score going up a year after his prostatectomy. The rise in PSA slowed after that and this past quarter, it actually went down a little. His urologist said the decline is not significant; small changes in PSA may be due to lab test inconsistencies. Still, we are much encouraged that it is not rising quickly.

Eventually it will probably reach a point where the cancer needs further treatment to keep from spreading. Right now they can't tell where it resides so they can't treat it. My hope is that it will grow so slowly that by the time treatment is indicated, treatment options will have advanced. For instance, the hormone therapy that the doctor is talking about has side-effects and is only effective for a few years anyway. In the future, doctors should know more about lessening the side-effects, and may even have medications that are effective for a longer term.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bras that don't fit

"Finally, a Bra Collection Designed Exclusively for A&B Cups" reads the ad for a Glamorise bra. They listed some hard-to-find sizes, including 42A and 44A. I haven't seen these in the store but found it online and decided to order one.

Well, it arrived today and I was disappointed. The cup is bigger than it should be. I'll send it back for a refund, and of course there is no smaller cup in a 44 band length.

Cup sizes are funny. Every size guide I've seen says something like this: "Subtract your band measurement from your bust measurement; each inch represents a cup size." HA! Not if your band size is over 38 inches. Once you pass that magic number, the cups sizes increase. I haven't figured out the exact formula but a B cup in a 42 or 44 equals about a D cup in a 38. And very very few models come in an 44A or 42A or even a 40A.

Some years ago I got tired of adding elastic extenders to the back of my bras so I went to a fancy lingerie shop and got professionally fitted. The clerk said I wear a 38C. "That'll be too tight," I protested. But I tried one on, and of course, it was so tight it dug into my rib cage.

"Well, some people just don't like wearing a bra," she opined.

"Not me! I just don't like feeling pinched."

"Maybe we can order a mastectomy bra that would fit you," she said.

But they were very expensive and there was no guarantee they would fit. I kept on wearing extenders until my skin got irritated from the chafing of the elastic (or maybe from the latex). And the straps kept slipping because the extra couple of inches in the back made them too far apart on my shoulders.

Finally I started ordering custom-sized bras from Decent Exposures and from a Chinese vendor on ebay. But neither gave the look I wanted. Well, guess I'm stuck for now. I could keep the faux-A cup bra that I just got and pad the heck out of it, but I really don't want to add look BIG or unnatural. I'm already plump enough!

There are some sport bras that fit me, sort of. But they have what a friend calls the uni-boob look: a single lump all the way across the chest, kind of squashed into a roll.

Well, I guess I'll order another model from Decent Exposures. They not only sew to your specific size, they will take the bra back and adjust it if needed. And I like the latex-free option and the fact that the elastic is covered so it doesn't irritate my skin. I just wish their bras gave a bit more lift and had more thickness.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Anyone else tried Truvia?

I bought some Truvia at the supermarket. It's a new sugar-substitute made from stevia and erythritol.

I use stevia regularly to sweeten cocoa with no apparent side-effects. I was a bit cautious about consuming erythritol because I generally do not tolerate sugar alcohols. So I only used one packet of Truvia at a time, and usually only once a day.

Then I used it twice a day and the side-effects showed up. I suffered some gas and diarrhea. Immediately I stopped using Truvia and went back to using plain stevia (which also can be purchased in packets). That was four days ago and the side-effects of the Truvia have not stopped.

I'm unsure whether the processing of the stevia into another form had any effect or the side-effects are only due to erythritol. However, I just read up on erythritol in Wikipedia and I may be sensitive to it because it is produced from glucose by fermentation with a yeast. I am very allergic to several varieties of yeast, and cannot consume most fermented products without unpleasant results.

By the way, if you look up stevia you'll read that it may improve insulin sensitivity. It is being studied as helping to reverse diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Postscript: This post has drawn a number of comments and has received many, many hits from people searching for symptoms caused by Truvia. If you have side-effects from this (or any product), please consider writing to the manufacturer. If you had a severe reaction and are certain that it was due to this product, you should report it to the FDA.
Personally, I have not done so because I have many allergies including one to yeasts (which is in erythritol) so I suspect that's what set off my diarrhea. I'm being much more careful now about avoiding sugar alcohols.
Additional Postscript 3/2013, seen on BeverageDaily:
Cargill has failed in its second attempt to secure EU approval for use of bulk sweetener erythritol in soft drinks, after EFSA published a negative opinion relating to its introduction on child safety grounds.
A Cargill spokesman admitted that erythritol can have "not harmful" laxative effects.

See: http://www.beveragedaily.com/Ingredients/Cargill-suffers-bitter-erythritol-blow-EFSA-rejects-beverage-use-extension

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Chemsense page

The page for the Chemical Sensitivities group in DC-Maryland-Virginia is now www.Chemsense.com. It used to be on AOL but they are no longer hosting websites.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Misery in the Intestines

We had company last week. Unfortunately, I got sick Thursday night with the worst diarrhea of my life. I only got a few hours sleep and was unable to entertain our company on Friday. My husband took them out touring for the day while I stayed home and rested. I was also able to do laundry and a little housekeeping.

I don't know what brought on the illness. We had been eating out a lot because (a) we were entertaining guests and (b) it's hard to feed a diverse group. I have food allergies and my sister-in-law doesn't eat red meat, my brother-in-law has to avoid salt, fatty meat, and hydrogenated fats, and my husband is diabetic plus he is a picky eater (won't eat fish, for instance). Anyway, I must have eaten some ingredient that disagreed with me in a restaurant. It is difficult to avoid allergens in restaurants because even if they don't add them, they can be on the grill or in the cooking oil, especially butter and wheat.

It's been years since I had diarrhea so bad that I needed to take something for it. So in the middle of the night, I looked for appropriate medicine and found Pepto Bismol. Unfortunately, it says not to take it if you are allergic to salicylates, which I am. By 4 am, I was getting desperate. The closest all-night store is an hour away. I decided to take a calcium tablet, which can be slightly constipating as long as it's not calcium citrate. That may have helped because I was able to sleep until 7:00.

At 7, my husband drove to our local general store to see what they had. They had Kaopectate but it carried the same warning about salicylates. (Salicylates make my ears ring and upset my stomach.) They also had Imodium so he purchased a package and brought it home. I only took one capsule because I was already recovering.

The diarrhea stayed away. Unfortunately, I then several days painfully constipated, with my tummy so bloated I looked pregnant. I've had the bloating with constipation before; in fact, even a tiny pat of butter gives me that condition. (Cow butter, that is. I'm okay with goat butter.)

I probably should have seen a doctor but we were heading into the weekend and our guests were leaving soon so I just waited it out and tried not to complain. I made an effort to rehydrate by drinking extra water, taking in salt and potassium. Of course I was afraid to bring the diarrhea back so I didn't take laxatives. (My experience is that they don't work for dairy-related constipation anyway; they just cause painful spasms.) After four days, the constipation finally ended and now I feel pretty much normal.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Low salt diet may not be good for your heart

Another example of expert advice becoming dubious...

WEDNESDAY, June 4 (HealthDay News) — Surprising new research suggests that a diet low in salt may be worse for your heart than eating lots of salt, but don't start eating potato chips just yet.

"No one should run out and buy a salt shaker to try to improve their cardiovascular health. But we think it's reasonable to say that different people have different needs," said study author Dr. Hillel W. Cohen, an associate professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.
The study, published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, doesn't confirm that a low-salt diet itself is bad for the heart. But it does say that people who eat the least salt suffer from the highest rates of death from cardiac disease.
"Our findings suggest that one cannot simply assume, without evidence, that lower salt diets 'can't hurt,' " Cohen said.

For the rest, see www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=90010

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Finally, the FDA Warns about Mercury Fillings

NEWS ITEM: Silver-colored metal dental fillings contain mercury that may cause health problems in pregnant women, children and fetuses, the Food and Drug Administration said today after settling a related lawsuit.

COMMENT: It's about time! Health advocacy groups and holistic dentists have been saying this for years. Unfortunately, the American Dental Association has tried to silence the protests because they fear that lawsuits will follow.

Even worse, having the fillings removed carries hazards because mercury is released when the old metal is drilled out.

I had my silver fillings removed over ten years ago, a few at a time. The dentist worked carefully, using a dental dam and administering oxygen to that I wouldn't breathe in too much mercury. I still got really ill though, and didn't feel well for several months.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Warning about CFL Light bulbs

Parents and others should read the Maine Compact Fluorescent Lamp Breakage Study Report. It's from the State of Maine; their waste management bureau did extensive tests on breakage of compact flourescent lightbulbs. They still recommend using the bulbs, although after reading the warnings, I don't understand why.

After cleaning up a broken bulb, tests show "all types of flooring surfaces tested can retain mercury sources even when visibly clean."

Never vacuum up pieces of a broken CFL bulb. "Vacuuming tends to mix the air within the room such that the one foot and five foot heights are similar immediately after vacuuming. A vacuum can become contaminated by mercury such that it cannot be easily decontaminated."

Mercury is dangerous. So what do you put a broken CFL in? Turns out that plastic bags won't do; use a glass jar.

Read Maine Compact Fluorescent Lamp Breakage Study Report and its attachments for details.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Uh-oh, Getting Older

Last week I got results from a Dexascan and learned that I have osteopenia, that is, low mineral content in my bones. This can lead to osteoporosis. The nurse said I need to take more calcium and vitamin D.

Then yesterday the podiatrist said I have arthritis in my toes. I was a bit shocked. Arthritis, me? I'm not old enough...

Oh, wait. I am. Getting older is rough. And how do you age gracefully when your body stops cooperating?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

PSA Still GoingUp

My husband went back to the urologist for a follow-up appointment. He had his prostate removed last summer and although his PSA dropped almost to zero, it soon started creeping back up. This indicates that the cancer had already left the prostate and may eventually become a problem.

The urologist said that when his PSA reaches 10 he should start hormone therapy. At the present rate, this will take about a year.

The doctor also prescribed Viagra, since Cialis caused severe leg pain. When we picked up the prescription for Viagra, we experienced sticker shock. The pills cost $12 each AFTER the insurance company's discount. Husband did not want to pay that much, but I insisted that he try it. Not because I am anxious that he "perform" but rather because the operation took away just about all feeling "down there" and he is a bit depressed about it.

The doctor prescribed that he take 3 pills a week until circulation returns to the area, but at the high price for the medication, he probably won't take that much.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Pun I can Relate to

I've had an allergic reaction to something in novocaine so I've had my dental work done without it for the last 15 years. This included numerous fillings (not too painful) and a couple of root canals (painful and unpleasant). Most of the time, I try to relax in the dentist chair and when things get uncomfortable, I grip the arms of the chair and try to channel my pain into the chair.

So when I read this pun, I had to smile:

Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal?
His goal: transcend dental medication.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

What the Doctors Ordered

I take three prescription medications every day, each in a different form:
  1. Armour Thyroid tablets for hypothyroidism
  2. Topical Hormone Cream, prescribed by a doctor and prepared by a compounding pharmacy
  3. Pilocarpine eye drops for a tonic pupil.

Items 1 and 2 are prescribed to my needs as indicated by blood tests. The hormone cream contains estrogens and a bit of progesterone. The eye drops were prescribed by my opthalmologist to shrink my left pupil which no longer contracts by itself. If I forget to use the eye drops and then go out in the sunshine, my eye gets very uncomfortable and eventually I feel pain behind the eye.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Fell on the Asphalt

I fell last week. There was a bit of black ice on our front walk and I didn't see it. Landed on one leg, scraped and bruised.

After my husband helped me back in the house, he fetched the bandages. The pack for sensitive skin had a warning on the box that the wrappers contained latex. Huh! Many of us with sensitive skin are allergic to latex. So why not wrap them in something else?

I decided to skip the bandages. My scrapes are healing okay and the bruises are faded now.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hearing aid disappointment

My husband tried out another hearing aid. (He went through this process a little over a year ago.) Yesterday he returned it to Beltone.  It just didn't help enough to pay over $7,000 for it. 

The good news is that his hearing is the same as it was two years ago. The bad news is that he cannot hear "S" at all, and on word lists he misunderstands a third of the words.  We tested him with and without the hearing aids, and the results were the same. 

It's possible that the aids helped a little in a crowded restaurant, where background noise is a problem. But the difference was too tiny to quantify.

For some word lists - see the tables in the appendix here and read this.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What's in that coffee?

I like coffee but it doesn't like me. I switched to decaf some 15 years ago on the advice of my doctor. Unfortunately, some brands of decaf make me ill and I can't determine exactly why. Two likely culprits are:
  1. Some chemical used in the process that removes caffeine.
  2. Some other chemical added to the coffee.
I am okay with organic decaf and probably some other kinds. Generally I stay away from flavored coffees because they cause me extreme chest pain. I once wound up in the emergency room thinking I had a heart attack after drinking flavored coffee at a social event!

Most flavored coffees contain propylene glycol, a "non-toxic" antifreeze. I suspect I am sensitive to this chemical. But avoiding flavored coffee is not enough. Lately some of the supposedly unflavored coffees have been giving me sharp pain in my abdomen, and it lasts for hours. Now I'm afraid to enjoy a cup of decaf in a restaurant because I have no way of knowing what's in it. I stopped drinking McDonalds decaf years ago because it gave me chest pain, but the ingredient list on their website shows only coffee. (I don't use the creamer, which lists a lot of chemicals.)

Unfortunately, propylene glycol is considered a safe additive and is not always listed on cans of coffee, as far as I can tell. So for now I am sticking to organic decaf, even though it is expensive.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Virtual colonoscopies approved by ACS

Medical groups are finally endorsing the virtual colonoscopy and no doubt insurance companies will start covering it. Too late for my medical claim - Blue Cross turned it down and then turned it down again when I appealed.

I still think it was a good decision to go the virtual route. I am sensitive to some medications so not having anesthesia is a big relief for me. However, the virtual colonoscopy is not painless. They pump air up your butt, and the pressure is painful!

Ten years ago I had a traditional colonoscopy. Like many people, I woke up while it was going on. Unfortunately, the doctor was trying to force the tube around a bend in my intestine and it wouldn't go and that hurt a LOT! So either way, a colonoscopy can be painful. Not as painful as cancer though.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Bringing back colds from across the country

My husband and I have both been sick all week. He had an upper respiratory infection when we flew home nine days ago, which made his ears hurt on the plane. When we landed he could not hear out of one ear, but it opened up the next day. Two days later I came down with cold symptoms, and they got worse before they got better.

I've stayed in most of the time since then except for picking up the mail and walking the dog. The weather had been cold and exerting myself outside brings on painful coughing spells. The good news is that we are finally feeling better.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Little Help from Prozac

As we planned our trip to visit my husband's sister, he decided to go back on Prozac (fluoxetine). He was on it before for anxiety (and a nasty temper) but had been off it since early fall. His anxiety and crankiness had returned, and I blamed it for a yelling session he blasted upon his son-in-law over the holidays and also for my going into therapy around the same time. I try to be understanding - having diabetes and cancer is stressful, after all. But his frequent screaming spells were hard to take. Sometimes I yelled back, and sometimes I just got depressed.

Then he started experiencing stress that woke him up at night, which had been one of the reasons he went on prozac before. This and his fear of having a big argument with his sister were the reasons he started taking the medication again.

Well, I'm glad he did. He is much pleasanter - still yells but not as often. I will probably stop needing therapy! And our visit with his sister went well, although he got pretty upset with her fast driving. (I was scared by it too, but said little about it.) I'm sure he would have had a big screaming fight with her if he wasn't on medication. It has happened before.

Personally I would like to see him manage stress without medication, but he really isn't sufficiently motivated. Being verbally abusive has its rewards, after all. People avoid crossing you, and try not to annoy you with loud sounds, etc. In the long run, though, they withdraw from you. And maybe start to dislike you. Not good.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Which is worse: Teflon or Microwave?

We returned yesterday from a week-long visit with my husband's sister. She's a nice person but doesn't cook much so her kitchen space and supplies are limited. All her pans are Teflon - not the improved Autograph stuff but the old kind with dubious safety claims and (of course) a few scratches. Ugh, scratches mean the coating can flake off into your food.

My alternative was microwaving food in ceramic dishes. I'm not a big fan of microwave cooking - it can yield unappetizing stuff, and it can degrade vitamin B12.

I wound up alternating between the two methods. Neither is ideal, but with the Teflon I was careful not to overheat the pan, which is particularly risky.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sensitive to Elastic

My skin is sensitive to some substances including aloe vera, elastic and some kinds of bandage adhesive. Avoiding elastic on the skin can be a challenge; I have to shop carefully.

Here are a couple of places where you can buy non-elastic underthings:
  • Cottonique - Underpants are sized small; I had to get a larger size than usual. Also, they did not enclose a packing slip which made returns a bit frustrating. However, I am now happy with my items. Got an organic cotton camisole which is super-soft!
  • Decent Exposures - Underpants are sized more generously but cost more. They will custom-make a bra for you and you can return it for adjustments. Custom items take several weeks. Quality is high, selection is good. I'm a repeat customer.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Medicine has much to learn about Prostate Cancer

Outcomes Vary for Prostate Cancer Patients Choosing Surgery; Overall, No Treatment Proven Superior

Press Release Date: February 4, 2008

Patients who undergo complete prostate removal are less likely to experience urinary incontinence or other complications if the operation is done by an experienced surgeon in a hospital that does many of the procedures, according to a report funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

However, the new report concludes that scientific evidence has not established surgery or any other single treatment as superior for all men. The analysis compared the effectiveness and risks of eight prostate cancer treatments, ranging from prostate removal to radioactive implants to no treatment. An article based on the report is posted today in the online version of the Annals of Internal Medicine.

"This report is a reminder that patient outcomes may vary according to treatment settings," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "But this analysis also underscores a broader message: when it comes to prostate cancer, we have much to learn about which treatments work best, and patients should be informed about the benefits and harms of treatment options."

See the rest at AHRQ.GOV News
It also states that "All treatment options cause health problems, primarily urinary incontinence, bowel problems and erectile dysfunction. The chances of bowel problems or sexual dysfunction are similar for surgery and external radiation. Leaking of urine is at least six times more likely among surgery patients than those treated by external radiation."

It's discouraging that the "best" treatment is still unclear. The more I read about medicine, the more I think we are in the dark ages.

Some Advice on Diabetes Proves Risky

From the NYTimes:
"For decades, researchers believed that if people with diabetes lowered their blood sugar to normal levels, they would no longer be at high risk of dying from heart disease. But a major federal study of more than 10,000 middle-aged and older people with Type 2 diabetes has found that lowering blood sugar actually increased their risk of death, researchers reported Wednesday.

The researchers announced that they were abruptly halting that part of the study, whose surprising results call into question how the disease, which affects 21 million Americans, should be managed."

Good grief! If you work really hard at controlling blood sugar, you may be risking your life! What to do?

It's important to know that insulin and pills were used to bring the blood sugar down in this study. But it is unclear whether the drugs were what caused the deaths.

Here's the Reuters version of the story: Just how low should blood sugar go?

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Feeling a little down

Partly because it's hard to get enough sunshine in February, and partly because my husband has been irritable, I'm feeling a bit down. Husband alternates between feeling tired (napping for hours, not wanting to go anywhere) and being anxious. When he's anxious, he yells a lot - occasionally at me or at the dog, and often at his computer or some other uncooperative object. I wish I could just ignore this behavior, but often it makes me angry.

I don't know whether his diabetes makes him irritable or whether his anxiety is inherited. (His mother was highly anxious.) He says he doesn't feel well, has a headache most of the time. He has lost some of the feeling in his feet and his fingers tingle from the diabetes. Yet he still eats a lot of carbs, although he has started exercising more.

I don't want to be unsympathetic but he makes me upset.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Is the Gardasil Vaccine Safe?

See www.blogher.com/node/20610 for a report on what's wrong with the HPV vaccine. Judicial Watch reported the deaths of three girls right after taking the vaccine.


This blog is still fairly personal -- that is, hardly anyone sees it besides myself! I hope to get some traffic and feedback, so I'm getting it listed in
  1. LS Blogs

  2. My Blog Log (Yahoo)

  3. GetBlogs.com, The Blog Directory.

I hope you will read my my latest posts and leave a comment if you'd like.

Oh, the bacteria...

Interesting piece on bacterial overgrowth of the small intestine at Diagnose Me. I had a test which indicated that I had this condition. I took flagyl for it, which had miserable side-effects. That seemed to help but now the condition may have returned.

Other than antibiotics, various sources indicate that the following MAY be helpful: yogurt and probiotics, enteric coated peppermint oil, Grapefruit seed extract, Oregano oil capsules, Garlic, Berberine, Olive leaf extract, Pau d'arco, and colloidal silver. I'm trying a few of these but if I don't see results quickly, I'll have to call the gastroenterologist's office. (Hate to call them -- they have an automated phone system which pretty much makes it impossible to get through, and it's a long-distance call at that.)

Back to the article: Bacterial Dysbiosis is the technical name for the condition. Several causes of the condition are described. Here's the one that fits my case:
Fermentation / Small Bowel Bacterial Overgrowth (SBBO). This is a condition of carbohydrate intolerance induced by overgrowth of bacteria in the stomach, small intestine and beginning of the large intestine... Gastric bacterial overgrowth increases the risk of systemic infection and the sufferer develops an intolerance to carbohydrate. Any carbohydrate ingested is fermented by the bacteria and results in production of toxic waste products.

Carbohydrate intolerance may be the only symptom of bacterial overgrowth, making it indistinguishable from intestinal candidiasis; in either case dietary sugars can be fermented to produce endogenous ethanol... British physicians working with the gut-fermentation syndrome have tentatively concluded, based on treatment results, that the majority of cases are due to yeast overgrowth and about 20% are bacterial in origin. The symptoms include abdominal distension, carbohydrate intolerance, fatigue and impaired mental function.

Under treatment and prevention, the article says that fermentation dysbiosis can cause starch and soluble fiber to exacerbate the abnormal gut ecology. When the upper small bowel is involved, simple sugars are also contraindicated. A diet free of cereal grains and added sugar is generally the most helpful. Fruit, fat and starchy vegetables are tolerated to variable degree in different cases. Oligosaccharides found in some vegetables, carrots in particular, inhibit the binding of enterobacteria to the intestinal mucosa.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Trans fats may cause Prostate Tumors

1/17/2008 - Increased intakes of trans-fatty acids may increase the risk of non-aggressive prostate tumours by about 100 per cent, suggests new research from Harvard.
The study followed almost 15,000 men over 13 years and piles further pressure on the fatty acids after significant prostate cancer risk increases were observed for higher intakes of the trans isomers of oleic and linoleic acids.

"Blood levels of trans isomers of oleic and linoleic acids are associated with an increased risk of non-aggressive prostate tumours," wrote lead author Jorge Chavarro in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.

"As this type of tumours represents a large proportion of prostate cancer detected using prostate-specific antigen screening, these findings may have implications for the prevention of prostate cancer."

For more see http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/news/ng.asp?id=82603

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sad thoughts

A gentleman in our town passed away the other day. He had been ill for a while with a blood disorder. We weren't close friends but we always said hello.

It's a sad thing when someone you know dies. His poor wife must feel lost without him. I'm also feeling depressed for personal reasons. I am reminded that my husband could die prematurely, since he still has prostate cancer and if that doesn't kill him, the diabetes could cause a heart attack. So the odds of my being a widow within the next 10 or 12 years are high.

I don't like thinking about his death. I don't like thinking that the threat is real. But of course it is and we need to enjoy our time together... if we can with this thing hanging over us.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Connection between Diabetes and Prostate Cancer

I came across this on Gabe Mirkin's site:

Your body produces large numbers of cancer cells, and your immunity searches out and kills these cells. Diabetes damages a person's immunity and interferes with a person's ability to kill cancer cells. That's why people with diabetes are at increased risk for certain types of cancers. People who store fat primarily in their bellies are at high risk for diabetes and also prostate cancer. Even if they are not overweight, men who have very little fat in their hips may have high blood insulin levels and are also at increased risk for diabetes and prostate cancer. If you store fat primarily in your belly, cut back of foods that contain flour, such as bakery products and pastas, and foods that have added sugar. You are at increased risk for diabetes and probably prostate cancer.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2003 Jan 1;95(1):67-71. Insulin resistance and prostate cancer risk. Hsing AW, Gao YT, Chua S Jr, Deng J, Stanczyk FZ. A. W. Hsing, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD.

Source: http://www.drmirkin.com/men/1706.html

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Weight loss surgery helps diabetics

Did you read the article "Obesity surgery helps diabetics"? Patients who had gastric banding surgery lost more weight and researchers believe it was the weight loss that helped improve their diabetic condition. 

"At the end of two years, 73 percent of the diabetics who had surgery no longer had diabetes, compared with 13 percent of those in the diet group. People who got surgery also needed far fewer diabetes medications."

Personally, I don't like unnecessary surgeries. Couldn't the patients lose weight by life-style changes reinforced by hypnosis? (I'm not going to say by dieting... blood sugar instability can make people ravenous!) But certainly this study shows the importance of losing weight.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Five Places to Search for Medical Information

Sure, you can use a regular search engine, but you'll get a lot of junky information along with real stuff. Here are five sites that I like to check before I dive into the deep waters of the web.

The first three are good places to start; the last two are for scholarly research.
  1. Mayo Clinic
  2. Johns Hopkins
  3. Web MD
  4. Unbound Medicine - searches studies
  5. Google Scholar - also looks up studies but is a bit more limited than #4 above.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Anti-Aloe Rant

I get an allergic reaction when I am exposed to aloe vera. Perhaps it is not an allergy so much as salicylate intolerance, but either way, it is a pain!
  • Aloe as an ingredient in liquid supplements makes my ears ring.

  • Aloe in skin-care products makes my skin red and itchy.

  • Aloe in toilet paper - OMG! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

Ironically, aloe is often touted as good for allergies. I suspect much of that is marketing hype, although salicylates (best known as the active component of aspirin) are known to relieve inflammation.

"Natural" skin-care products usually contain aloe. It is hard to find a non-toxic shampoo (free of SLS, formaldehyde and perfume) that does not contain aloe. But my biggest gripe about aloe as an ingredient is when it is used in toilet paper. You can't tell whether it is in the paper unless you have the wrapper, which is often not the case when you are visiting someone and need to use their bathroom. If you have this problem, be sure to complain to the manufacturers. THEY SHOULD IMPRINT EACH SHEET WITH THE WORD ALOE if they insist on using it as an ingredient. I have suggested this to Charmin and Cottonelle. Please do the same.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Snow Day!

The diabetes class was canceled today due to snow. Frankly, we were relieved. The class is important and my husband really needs the nutrition information that was on the schedule for today, but sitting in a hard chair all day is very uncomfortable. And of course, it's nice to watch the snow instead of going to school.

Last night my husband woke up screaming due to a leg cramp. Ouch! I've had those and they are really painful. Read an article about leg cramps here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Wake up call?

We went to a class on diabetes today at a local hospital. My husband was enrolled in it by his doctor, and spouses were welcome so I went, partly to learn and partly to make sure my husband went. It was informative although a bit alarming. Diabetes can cause damage all over your body. It is progressive, and some people find it hard to control.

But it was definitely beneficial for my husband to go. I hope this will be the wake-up call that he needs to start exercising and to plan his food intake better.

Side effects

My husband had a severe spell of nausea a while ago. Nausea is a common side-effect of Glucophage.

See askapatient.com for patients' experiences with medications

Monday, January 14, 2008


We had three medical appointments today. My husband had one with his family doctor, who prescribed an additional medication for his diabetes, since he is not responding much to the Metformin. He has an hour-long consultation with the diabetes educator at the hospital and I went along to glean some information and to make sure my husband didn't miss anything important. He is hard-of-hearing and sometimes misunderstands things. Then this afternoon we had an appointment with a counselor because we are under so much stress dealing with the prostate cancer and diabetes at the same time.

In particular I wanted guidance on how to help with dietary changes without becoming a total nag. (My husband is not really following any version of a diabetes diet.) The counselor pretty much said to let him make his own decisions because he is an adult. Unfortunately, when I watch him eat huge amounts of carbs, I get anxious and worried. Won't I be guilty if he loses his sight as a result of eating poorly? Can I just watch him self-destruct?

On a more hopeful note, he has signed up for a class on diabetes care later this week.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Waiting Room

A few days ago my husband had an appointment with a counselor at the cancer center of a local hospital. The waiting room as well-lit and spacious, but still there was a sad feeling about the place. A number of old folks were waiting patiently, along with a few middle-aged people. But it was quiet except for when a name was called for an appointment.

Is that what are lives will be filled with now? Tense but quiet times in various waiting rooms, wondering what is ahead. And the other people waiting -- will some of them die early, will spouses by left to grieve soon?

I left the waiting room before my husband's appointment ended and went out to the car to wait, away from the sadness.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Where did I get all those allergies?

The list of foods I don't tolerate is ridiculously long. And yet I had almost no allergies when I was a child. What happened?

No one really seems to know. A strong possibility is celiac disease. I've never been tested for it because the test doesn't work if you did consume gluten on a regular basis, and I've been off gluten for years. It's in wheat and a few other grains. If I eat wheat (even a single cracker), I get sleepy - so sleepy that I pretty much pass out. And the kicker with celiac is that if you have it, consuming gluten messes up your digestion, causing poor absorption of nutrients and eventually other food sensitivities.

Other possible causes of food allergy include a genetic predisposition, lack of digestive enzymes, lack of nutrients, candida, hormonal imbalance, and exposure to toxins.

Whatever causes them, I would love to find a cure. I've tried enzymes, antibiotics, probiotics, antifungals, hormones, cortisone, supplements... without success. I'd love to find a solution, but no luck so far.

My Food Allergies

Let me see if I can list all my food allergies and sensitivities.

Allergies (show up on skin tests)

Black pepper
Black (and green) tea
White beans
White fish
Yeast (baking and brewers)

Sensitivities (did not show up on skin tests but they cause unpleasant symptoms)

Milk (all cow dairy products)
Most berries
Peanut Butter

Other sensitivities (never tested for these but they cause a reaction)

Many spices
Flax oil
Rooibos Tea
Some preservatives

There are also some foods that I tolerate in small amounts but cannot get away with eating in quantity:
Egg whites
Cane Sugar
Maple Sugar

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Can Antiperspirant cause Respiratory Sensitivity?

I'm a sensitive sort of person. Some air pollutants make my eyes water and my head ache, some cosmetics make me break out, and I have a lot of food allergies. So I am sympathetic to people who have unusual sensitivities.

Here's the story of a Swiss man who became hypersensitive to common chemicals. He blames this on aluminum in antiperspirants! When he switched to a non-aluminum containing deodorant, he recovered.

This fellow has done some research and believes that since aluminum stops sweating by closing pores, it can also dry out mucous in the respiratory tract (once absorbed through the skin). This leads to abnormal functioning that in his case resulted in sensitivity to smells and reactions to chemicals. His story is in Acrobat (PDF) format.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Step towards Diabetes Care

Well, my husband has been prescribed glucophage for his diabetes. And none too soon! The night before his doctor appointment, his blood sugar went up to 600, which is dangerously high. So I'm glad he is doing something about it.

He is aware that diet and exercise are important for diabetes. However, he does not exercise. He makes token efforts toward dieting, but he is still eating hugh amounts of refined carbs.

It's frustrating for me. Sometimes I invite him to go for a walk but he rarely does.

Meanwhile, I see that the American Diabetes Association is starting to accept the value of low-carb eating.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Interesting Website: All Allergy Net

This site has a wealth of information on allergies: AllAllergy.net. I was fascinated by the Allergy Advisor Digest, which summarizes numerous studies on allergies. Some surprises:
  • Ass's milk appears to be less allergenic than goat's milk.

  • Some infants have had a severe allergic reaction to stevia.

  • Several adults have had allergic reactions to "dermatologist tested" baby wipes because of the preservative.

  • Vitamin D deficiency in mothers may lead to asthma in their babies.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Type 2 Diabetes

My husband is struggling with diabetes. He loves carbs and fast food so he has not been able to follow the dietary guidelines that the nutritionist gave us. Also he not only does not exercise, but spends hours every day in his easy chair. Naturally his blood sugar has gone up.

His physician did not seem concerned about this the last time he went in, but now that his sugar is measuring consistently high, he will go back to the doctor. I'm not sure they can help him without his making some lifestyle changes, though.