|HEALTH TRIBUNE||Wednesday, October 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India|
Blood donation: make quality primary goal
40 at greater risk of heart ailments
AYURVEDA & YOU
Running more can lead to memory loss
Tips for preventing cancer
AN average physician has minimal knowledge of cancer. This is because most of them in private practice do not treat cancer patients. When a patient is diagnosed as having cancer, he is referred to a big hospital or a tertiary care centre. Thus, an average doctor does not spend time trying to learn the latest in the field of oncology as it does not make economic sense for him. Furthermore, a patient goes to a doctor for treatment of a specific disease or ailment. The doctor will understandably give advice about that illness or disease. Neither the doctor nor the patient has the time to discuss preventive oncology. The government hospitals and dispensaries are so overworked that they can’t think of discussing this topic.
The responsibility, therefore, falls on the shoulders of the government to inform the public about the factors that lead to cancer and precautions that they should take. They are doing their bit, but the effort is far from sufficient. We believe that social organisations, NGOs and the Press should take the lead and make whatever effort is possible within their means. This article is also written with the intention of informing people about the magnitude, gravity, causes and prevention of cancer.
Nowhere is the statement "Prevention is better then cure" more true then in the case of cancer. Not only is its occurrence devastating for the whole family, the treatment of cancer itself is prohibitively expensive, and even when treated the average survival rate is rarely more than three years.
The key to prevention is identifying all modifiable risk factors and trying to manage them in the best possible way. It has now been established that one of the most important causes of cancer is injury to DNA in the cells by "free radicals".
Free radicals are unstable chemicals produced when the body tries to neutralise any toxins that enter it. Since these chemicals are unstable, they try to attack our blood vessels, LDL cholesterol, the immune system or other cells in order to get an electron and become stable. In other words, they affect our normal cellular functions. These days almost all illnesses have been linked to excess free radicals.
The causes of free radicals are cigarette smoke, tobacco chewing, excessive alcohol consumption, excess radiations from UV rays, computers, TVs mobile phones and microwaves, air and water pollution, low fibre high fat diet, processed and synthetic foods, genetically modified (hybrid) food, use of insecticide, chemical fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides, use of preservatives, colouring agents, toiletries, cosmetics, etc.
There are primarily two ways to manage these free radicals: reduce the exposure to free radicals and neutralise the effect of free radicals with anti-oxidants.
Anti-oxidants are naturally occurring substances which have a host of extra electrons to donate to the free radicals and neutralise them. We need to take them in diet and as supplements. The most important source of anti-oxidants are fruits and vegetables. Other sources include tea, extra virgin olive oil, red wine and anti-oxidant dose vitamins.
How to prevent cancer
(a) Primary Prevention
* Decrease exposure to carcinogens
* Maximize the body’s antioxidant defense and immune system
* Empowering the body’s repair system.
* Other measures
(b) Secondary prevention
This is based on the fact that early detection of cancer gives a chance to prevent a full blown disease and a better chance of cure and survival.
* Recognise the early warning signs of cancer:
* A lump or hard area in the breast.
* A change in wart or mole.
* A persistent change in digestive and bowel habits.
* A persistent cough or hoarseness of voice.
* Unexpected loss of weight.
* A swelling or sore that does not get healed up.
* Blood loss from any natural office.
* Excess loss of blood during menstrual period or bleeding outside the usual dates.
Blood donation: make quality primary goal
FOR an industry to succeed and satisfy its customers, "quality" must be a primary goal. Quality has been central to blood banking since its inception. Over the ensuing decades, continuous scientific progress in blood preservation, blood group testing, cross-matching, automation, use of filters, testing for blood transmissible diseases and computerisation has contributed to the quality and safety of blood products and transfusion service. However, with the advent of the AIDS era, an increasingly sensitised and informed public is continuously demanding that the highest level of quality be achieved and maintained in all processes involved in providing blood products.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the US has introduced a concept of a "Zero-risk blood supply" as the goal. This requires blood banks and transfusion services to establish and follow a Quality Control and Quality Assurance Programme for their licensing, certification and accreditation. Many discrete activities, such as quality control of reagents, staff competence, laboratory proficiency, testing programmes, procedures for equipment mainteinance and documentation of error and accident investigation are now considered essential for a quality blood bank.
In developed countries such as the US, the UK and Australia, blood banks have incorporated ISO (International Standard Organisation) standards for manufacturing trade, and communications standards that provide the basis for a quality plan for institutions such as blood banks and transfusion services. The initiation of the Blood Action Plan in 1997, to increase the effectiveness of its scientific and regulatory action, addressed the highly focused areas of concern such as emergency operations, response to emerging diseases, and updating of regulations.
As time has passed, earlier resistance, skepticism and feelings of over-regulation have turned into more understanding and acceptance. Now let us realise that implementation of the Quality Programme should be something that we want to do rather than simply a burden that we have to do. As we put more efforts into the implementation of a sound quality programme, we appreciate greater value and the achievement of better patient care.
With continued advancement in medical research and medical technology, blood banks will face new challenges — not just scientific and regulatory but also legal and ethical. Redefining traditional quality assurance along the quality control is a critical response if blood banks are to achieve the standards of excellence needed to cope with the changes. A well-managed Quality Programme is an effective and cost-efficient operation for the blood banks and transfusion services, and will enable us to better serve the patients for whom we exist.
The writer is President, Indian Society of Haematology & Transfusion Medicine, PGI, Chandigarh.
Women above 40 at greater risk of heart ailments
Thiruvananthapuram: Women above 40 years of age are at an increased risk of coronary heart disease with cholesterol levels showing an alarming increase in them in the advanced years, doctors here say.
Releasing the results of a study on cholesterol to mark World Heart Day on Sunday, doctors of Sree Uthradom Thirunal (SUT) hospital here said the research pointed towards the need for regular exercise and low fat intake among middle-aged women. SUT hospital Managing Director Dr C Bharath Chandran said the study showed that the possibility of coronary heart disease starts increasing in women after 40 years and it surpasses men after 50 years of age. As per the study, 73 per cent of women above 50 years had more than 200 mg of cholesterol in their blood as against 45 per cent men. Also, as many as 39 per cent of women were found to have the highest cholesterol level of 240 mg and above. The men in this category were only 16 per cent. The study, covering 1,895 men and women who had no previous records of heart disease, also showed that, on an average, the cholesterol level among men was 202 mg compared to 208 mg in women.
However, cholesterol levels seem to have
some relation with age as the average level was found to be 194 mg
among men in the 20 to 40 years age group compared to 187 mg among
women. In the 40 to 50 years age group, there was a minimal difference
among men and women with 205 mg for men and 207 mg for women. — UNI
IF travelling is an integral part of life, good health is a far more essential feature of an enjoyable and trouble-free travel. Nothing can spoil a journey than falling ill. Though the past few decades have seen a rapid revolution in the transport scenario, in our country the overall picture of health and hygiene during travelling is far from satisfactory. It is the risk and fear of discomfort and falling ill, away from home, that always keeps haunting most of the travellers.
Of a host of health hazards feared during travel, gastrointestinal upsets are most common. These include varied problems like diarrhoea, dysentery, constipation, nausea, vomiting, acidity, etc. Eatables which are stale, putrid and infected, food from unhygienic roadside eateries and contaminated water are the well known causes of travellers’ diarrhoea. Irregular hours of meals coupled with constant sitting often result in other abdominal problems like acidity, gas formation and constipation.
Ayurveda believes that frequent travelling vitiates "vata" and, by upsetting the body clock, leads to various other problems like insomnia, fatigue and exhaustion. This is more true about daily travellers and those who perform long touring jobs.
India is a tropical country, but there are lot of seasonal variations at different places at a given time. A journey from a hot and humid climate to a cold and damp place or vice versa can unexpectedly bring fever, allergies and respiratory problems.
Travelling can also pose increased health risk to children, to pregnant women and to old persons. Patients suffering from heart trouble, prostate enlargement, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome and sinus problems not only feel uneasy during a travel, but can also put other passengers to inconvenience. The same is true of anxiety patients, hyperactive persons and those who are sensitive to the smell of diesel and petrol.
Our own native wisdom deals with this subject in a unique way. Elders in the family usually insist on taking preventive measures before leaving the home. This includes studying the area to be visited — its climate, elevation, epidemic diseases, quality of its water and the availability of the medical services. Taking adequate and appropriate clothing is perhaps the first step to save ourselves from the vagaries of weather during a travel. Avoiding heavy meals and alcohol before travelling is another tip for a non-queasy trip.
To avoid gastrointestinal upsets during a travel, one should drink purified water or the one commercially available in sealed bottles. Eat only food that has been well cooked and is still hot when served. Avoid unpasteurised milk, cheese or other dairy products, non-vegetarian food, ice and open and cut salads and fruits. Patients suffering from heart trouble, blood pressure and diabetes are advised not to undertake any strenuous journey and should seek immediate medical assistance in case of an emergency.
It is better to carry a few doses of any suitable analgesic, antipyretic, antispasmodic, anti-allergic and tranquilizer medicines while travelling. Traditional remedies such as ginger and peppermint serve well to prevent nausea, vomiting and motion sickness. Simple sodium bicarbonate or roasted jeera powder relieves acidity and gas trouble and non- effervescent isapgol husk comes very handy to manage reverse conditions like diarrhoea and constipation. The famous Chandraprabha Vati controls the increased frequency of urine and Sanjivani Vati is helpful in mild fever and body aches and abdominal upsets occurring during travel.
Running more can lead to memory loss
WASHINGTON: Those obsessed with running should reduce their running habit, as they tend to increase the release of the chemical BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) in the hippocampus, a curved, elongated ridge in the brain that controls learning and memory. High runners tend to "max out" in the production of the BDNF and neurogenesis, a research conducted here has said. And that topping-out effect may be what prevents learning, it added.
BDNF is involved in protecting and
producing neurons in the hippocampus. "When you exercise, it's
been shown you release BDNF," said study co-author Justin Rhodes,
a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Behavioral Neuroscience at
OHSU's School of Medicine. "BDNF helps support and strengthen
synapses in the brain. — ANI