We, here on the Island, are in the middle of tick season and it is reported that there is an above average tick infestation this year. If you do come in contact with a tick, there is always the time honored tweezer method to grasp and remove it.
Another method is to take a cotton ball and put a liberal amount of liquid soap on it. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball. Rub for a few seconds and usually the tick will release and be attached to the ball. This simple method is perfect for children and upset adults.
As always, prevention is the best medicine. Please check out the 8 best ways to avoid being bitten by a tick.
Obesity is a known risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer. A recent study out of Israel found that obese or overweight 17- and 18-year-olds can have an increased risk of developing colon and rectal cancer, and the risk may be increased as high as 50%! We now have another reason to encourage good eating and exercise habits for our children. The earlier these healthy life style habits begin, the better.
As a woman ages, her ovarian function begins to decrease, and as the follicular activity starts to wane, the production of estrogen and progesterone goes down. The decrease in these hormones will eventually lead to no more menstrual cycles, and menopause is defined as 1 year of no menstrual bleeding. This is a natural part of every woman’s life as the 50’s approach and the average age of menopause is 51 to 52. With our ever increasing life spans, women may spend 30 to 40 years in this postmenopausal state.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) recently updated their breast cancer screening guidelines for women who are at an average risk of developing the disease. It was published in the October 20, 2015 issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Society).
Here are the recommendations:
Women with an average risk of breast cancer should undergo regular screening mammograms starting at age 45
Starting at 40, have annual screenings if the woman desires
For women aged 45 to 54, the screenings must be annual
For women over 55, mammograms every 2 years or annually if the women desires
Screen as long as the overall health of the women is good or if her life expectancy is 10 years or greater
For average-risk women at any age, ACS does not recommend clinical breast exams for breast cancer screening
These recommendations have refueled the debate over what are the best guidelines, and these differ from the other major health organizations. It can be confusing, but I think it opens more discussions between women and their health care providers concerning the best way to screen for breast cancer for each individual. Please continue to speak to your health care provider about your breast health and come up with a plan best suited for you.
A recent small study of menopausal women with frequent hot flashes may show a relationship between these flashes and an increased chance of developing heart disease. Frequent hot flashes meant that the women experienced these flashes 5-6 times per day.
In the study, changes were seen in the vessels of the cardiovascular system. This again points to the importance of menopausal women having regular visits with their health care professionals to assess their cardiovascular health!
Raquel Goldstein, RPA-C, MS, is a physician assistant at Dr. Polcino’s office. Today she speaks about thrombophilia’s effect on a woman using birth control. Since about 10% of women will carry thrombophilia, it is important to be informed about this genetic trait and what is recommended if it is identified.
About 5% of all women have a uterine fibroid and this is the most common of the noncancerous gynecological tumors. Since fibroids can increase risks during a pregnancy, the health care provider follows a pregnant woman with fibroids carefully.
One of the complications can be that the baby is in a position other than head-down near the time of delivery. This can affect the type of delivery advised. Other possible complications associated with fibroids and pregnancy can be pain, preterm delivery, premature rupture of the membranes, and other difficulties.
Because of the great hormonal changes during pregnancy, fibroids can shrink or grow at this time. The changes occur mostly in the first 3 months of the pregnancy. More pregnancy complications have been found when a fibroid is larger than 10 cm.
If you have fibroids and are pregnant, start early discussions with your health care providers about the risks to be concerned about and how is the best way to be followed during your pregnancy.
…..It seems that every day there is a study revealing the importance of having a normal level of vitamin D. A new report even points to an association between fibroids and vitamin D. Uterine fibroids are benign tumors of the uterine smooth muscle, and this affects approximately 30 to 40% of all women. It is one of the leading causes for a hysterectomy in the United States. In the laboratory it has been shown that an active metabolite of vitamin D can inhibit the growth of fibroid tissue.
…..Approximately 1000 women ages 35 to 49 years old were enrolled in a study where the vitamin D level was obtained, and the fibroid status was determined by ultrasound screenings of these premenopausal women. The group with normal vitamin D levels had a 30% lower risk of fibroids as compared to those with vitamin D insufficiency.
…..More research needs to be done to confirm these findings but it seems that sufficient vitamin D may be associated with a reduced risk of uterine fibroids. As always, speak to your health care provider before beginning any new vitamin supplement program.
…..October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and hopefully we are all aware of the high risk of breast cancer that surrounds us. We know that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime, and all of us have someone close who has suffered with this cancer. In my own family, we lost Mary Ann’s mom, who was my wife’s mother, to this terrible disease.
…..Early detection saves lives, and it is all of our responsibility to encourage the special women whom we love to practice good breast health, which should include:
Monthly self breast exams
At a minimum of once a year, breast exams from your health care provider
Yearly mammograms starting at age 40
Special follow-up programs if there is a strong family history of breast cancer
…..As a gynecologist, breast health has been a daily and major part of my professional life. I encourage all of my patients to be their own best advocates when it comes to breast health. Do your self-exams. Do the recommended breast studies. Once the studies are done, get the results and understand what the results are. Do the follow-up studies and follow-up consults that are advised. If there is a problem, see the breast specialists. Get second opinions if there is ever a doubt. Let us all work together to defeat this foe!