Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Arthritis and Emu Oil

Laboratory experiments and analysis of emu oil in Australia and in the US are suggesting that it has the ability to reduce inflammation of the joints. Emu oil naturally contains a high level of linoleic acid, (a substance known to ease muscle ache and joint pain) and oleic acid, which provides a local anti-inflammatory effect. Some of the other properties claimed by the emu oil include: cholesterol reduction, bacteriostatic activity, arthritis swelling reduction and wound healing. It is also an excellent emulsifier.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

CREST syndrome

CREST syndrome is a subset of scleroderma, which is a rare, chronic disease characterized by excessive deposits of collagen. Scleroderma leads to thickening, hardening and tightening of your skin and connective tissue. Typically the skin appears reddish or scaly in appearance. Blood vessels may also be more visible. Where large areas are affected, fat and muscle wastage will weaken limbs and affect appearance.

The seriousness of the disease varies between cases. The two most important factors to consider are, the level of internal involvement (beneath the skin), and the total area covered by the disease. For example there are cases where the patient has no more than one or two lesions (affected areas), perhaps covering a few inches. These are less serious cases and tend not to involve the internal bodily functions.
Cases with larger coverage are far more likely to affect the internal tissues and organs. Where an entire limb is affected, symptoms will almost certainly have serious consequences on the use of that limb. The heart and lungs will be affected when the disease covers this area of the torso. Some patients also experience gastrointestinal problems, including heartburn and acid reflux. Internal scarring may sometimes spread beyond what can be seen by the naked eye. There is discoloration of the hands and feet in response to cold. Most patients (>80%) have Raynaud's phenomenon, a vascular symptom that can affect the fingers, and toes. Systemic scleroderma and Raynaud's can cause painful ulcers on the fingers or toes, which are known as digital ulcers.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Mammography Screening

Mammography is the process of using low-dose X-rays (usually around 0.7 mSv) to examine the human breast. It is used to look for different types of tumors and cysts. Only mammography has been proven to reduce mortality from breast cancer. In some countries routine (annual to five-yearly) mammography of older women is encouraged as a screening method to diagnose early breast cancer.

Like all x-rays, mammograms use doses of ionizing radiation to create this image. Radiologists then analyze the image for any abnormal growths. Despite continuous improvements and innovations, mammography has garnered a sizable opposition in the medical community because of an error rate that is still high and the amount of harmful radiation used in the procedure. (Gofinan)

At this stage mammography is still the modality of choice for screening of early breast cancer. It is the gold-standard for other imaging methods such as ultrasound and NMR-tomography. CT has no real role in diagnosing breast cancer at the present. Ultrasound, Thermography, and Magnetic resonance are alternatives to mammography.

In a Swedish study of 60,000 women, 70 percent of the mammographically detected tumors weren't tumors at all. These "false positives" aren't just financial and emotional strains, they may also lead to many unnecessary and invasive biopsies. In fact, 70 to 80 percent of all positive mammograms do not, upon biopsy, show any presence of cancer.

At the same time, mammograms also have a high rate of missed tumors, or "false negatives." Dr. Samuel S. Epstein, in his book, The Politics Of Cancer, claims that in women ages 40 to 49, one in four instances of cancer is missed at each mammography. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) puts the false negative rate even higher at 40 percent among women ages 40-49. National Institutes of Health spokespeople also admit that mammograms miss 10 percent of malignant tumors in women over 50. Researchers have found that breast tissue is denser among younger women, making it difficult to detect tumors. For this reason, false negatives are twice as likely to occur in premenopausal mammograms.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Toxic Car Smell

"One of the best things about having a new car could be bad for you. New research finds that much loved "new car" smell is produced by harmful chemicals." According to a recent study, the pleasurable scent has been linked to harmful chemicals - volatile organic compounds (or VOC)- which releases chemicals from glues, paints, and vinyl. The smell inside the cabin of the new car can trigger headaches, sore throats, and drowsiness.
Japan's top five car makers have already rolled out cars with lower VOC levels. Gardner thinks that's great as long as they don't completely get rid of the scent that represents pride and satisfaction for so many consumers as they drive off the lot. A group that represents US automakers says it does not follow the issue of volatile organic compounds. The EPA has no stance on the issue either.