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Posts tagged ‘Genetics’

by Logan

Learn more about Prostate Cancer. Part One.

Today were are going to look at Part One on understanding prostate cancer. We will look at the prostate itself and describe what prostate cancer is. We will also look at some of the more well known causes of prostate cancer and we will look at the important steps of diagnosing prostate cancer. In Part Two we will also look at the management, treatment, and prognosis of this disease.

Prostate Cancer is a very common cancer that affects the prostate. It is something that is often highly publicized. It is often seen as the cause of some deaths and can be found in many cases on autopsy.  It has similar symptoms as other prostate problems such as prostatitis and benign hyperplastic prostate or BPH.

Prostate cancer is often a very slow growing cancer.  In most cases, the cancer remains in the prostate but in some cases it can move to the surrounding tissues.  Metastasis is when is spreads to different tissues. In rare cases the cancer can move to the brain, bone, and other parts of the body. These more invasive cancers have a worse outcome.


What is the Prostate?

The prostate is a gland that is needed in producing the fluid in semen. The prostate , along with other glands, produce a mucus fluid that helps keep sperm alive. This gland is a large part of the male reproductive system.  It is located near the bladder. It is only found in male, but a similar type of organ is found in women.  Women though, can not get prostate cancer.


Causes of Prostate Cancer

Many different elements play into causing prostate cancer. It is likely that not everything is known. Age seems to be the primary cause. As men age, the likelyhood of prostate cancer increases dramatically.  Other important risk factors are obesity, family history, diet, sexual activity [or lack of].  High blood pressure can also be a risk factor and there may be a small risk with lack of exercise.  Even, high alcohol intake may increase your risk.

1.)     Genetic

With a first degree relative that has prostate cancer, your risk increases directly.

It is unknown of a specific gene is causative for prostate cancer. But additional research is looking at specific chromosomes. Mutations that occur in these genes may lead to an understanding at the connection between genetics and cancer0..

2.)     Dietary

This is an area that is not very well known. In some circles, it is believed that a good diet with plenty of fiber will help prevent prostate cancer. But just as interesting, is the belief that some foods has a risk of getting prostate cancer.  It is currently being studied the possible link of certain such as fruits, vegetables, red meat, lack of vitamin D, excess taking of multivitamins, folic acid supplements, and high alcohol intake.  These are still being studied and are currently just risks rather than a direct correlation.

3.)     Medications

Some studies point to some medications at causing a risk.  Medications for cholesterol such as statins may actually decrease the risk of prostate cancer.

Agent Orange – was a chemical that some US war veterans came into contact with. It is believed that a double increase in risk and a possible risk for re-occurance was seen.

Elevated Testosterone levels may also increase the risk for prostate cancer. Therefore, consideration must be taken in when excess testosterone is given in a patient.  Obesity is also a risk.

4.)     Virus

This risk is just being studied.  A possible link may exist with a retrovirus that may cause a protein to be produced that is found in prostate cancer. This is just in the beginning stages of being tested.  No significant hard data can confirm this possibility.


Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer

This is where things can get debatable in regards to prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is slow growing and the current belief is that early diagnosis is not necessarily worth the risks of testing and treatment.

This means that early diagnosis, although occurs, is not something that is a prime concern. Starting at age 50 – this is when diagnosis is really something that should be addressed.

The American Cancer Society has discussed this when they said, “Research has not yet proven that the potential benefits of testing outweigh the harms of testing and treatment.”

The age of diagnosis may be lowered to 45 if a few conditions or concerns are met:

1.)     African American – increased risk is seen and diagnosis is often begun earlier

2.)     Prostate cancer in brother before the age of 65

3.)     Prostate cancer in father before the age of 65.

(These are not AND but rather OR – which means that if you fall into any one of these three – diagnosis should begin earlier.)

The only test that can confirm prostate cancer is a prostate biopsy.  This is when several small pieces of the prostate are removed for examination under a microscope.

Other diagnostic procedures may include:

1.)     A urine test to check for a protein.

2.)     Another test is a blood work for PSA.

3.)     A digital rectal examination or DRE is a relatively non invasive way for a medical provider to examine the prostate.

4.)     A cytoscopy allows a camera that is flexible to travel through the urethra

5.)     Ultrasound

6.)     MRI is another way to take a close look at the prostate. It allows for evaluation of the tissue of the prostate. A clinical suspicion of prostate cancer can be seen. At this point, confirmation is done through a biopsy.

Tune in to Part Two for more information on Prostate Cancer.

by Logan

Health Tip – What are Allergies? Part 2

This is the second post on Allergies and what they really mean. Today we will look at the many number of symptoms that can be seen in allergies. We will also look at the difference between milk allergy and lactose intolerance.   It is important to properly diagnose and manage allergies and we will look at that as well.

Part 1 defined allergies and looked at Hay fever and food allergies.

Signs and Symptoms of Allergies

1.)    Nose
–           Nasal congestion
–           Runny nose
–           Itchy nose

2.)    Ear
–          Feelings of pain
–          Feelings of fullness
–          Change or impaired hearing

3.)    Eye
–           Eye redness
–           Eye drainage/watery
–           Itching
–           Swelling of conjunctiva
–           Pain

4.)    Sinus
–           Sinus pain
–           Sinus pressure
–           Sinus drainage
–           Increased mucus

5.)    Airway/Lungs
–           Sneezing
–           Coughing
–           Difficulty breathing
–           Wheezing
–           Inflammatory response to lungs
–           Feelings of constriction

6.)    Skin
–           Rashes
–           Itching
–           Hives
–           Eczema
–           Dryness
–           Scabbing


Causes of Allergies

Often the allergen of from the environment.

But the cause of why a person’s body is more or less susceptible to allergies comes down to genetics. Age, gender, race, and age are all things that play a part in Allergies.

Additional studies are looking at causes outside of genetics.  The studies are looking at four things:

1.)     Childhood diseases
2.)     Environmental pollution and levels of pollution
3.)     Changes to diet
4.)     Levels of allergens in certain parts of the World.


Lactose Intolerance

Milk that is consumed, as many other foods, needs to be broken down into useable materials. In this case – milk or lactose is really a lactase deficiency

Lactase is an enzyme that digests or breaks down lactose into glucose and galactose.  The result will be abdominal bloating, gas, diarrhea, nausea, and/or vomiting.

Therefore, lactose intolerance has nothing to do with an allergy to milk. It is the lack of an enzyme.  There is no immune response to an allergen.  Milk allergy does exist but is far different than Lactose intolerance.

Diagnosis of Allergies

Continued and verified allergy response to an allergen is often enough to confirm allergies.

But in many cases, the specific allergen cannot be identified just on basic box checking on what foods or environmental factors may be involved.

When this happens, allergy testing will help narrow the search.  This can be done by a skin prick test or an allergy blood test. Both are recommended by traditional guidelines and usually do a good job in identifying the specific allergen.

Management of Allergies

The problem with allergies is that it affects each person differently. Some have minimal symptoms, some are drained for half the year, and others have life threatening responses to allergies. Therefore the management is different for each of them.

Some can do nothing, they try to remove themselves from the allergen and wait for the body to realign itself.

Others must avoid the food entirely and completely. Special diet changes, planning, and even careful choices of away from home eating are essential. It could change almost everything about the way you and your family eats.

Showering, wash clothes, saline eye drops, and many other home remedies are often used first. This attempt at management not only helps but it can relieve symptoms quickly.  But, it doesn’t work for everyone.

Medications can be helpful. There are a variety number of medications available from antihistamines, to steroids, to asthma and allergy medications.  Immediate response oral medications, nasal medications, and even injectable medications can help relieve the symptoms of allergies.

Immunotherapy – this type of therapy has a goal to overwhelm the body by giving a gradually increasing amount of the allergen over time. Often what is seen is that the body starts to have a much less immune response to the allergen in the long run.  The hypersensitivity that once was, is no longer present or at least at a far less severity.

In the end, hundreds of thousands of people, maybe including you or someone you know have allergies. It can really affect each person differently. If I get too close to a dog, I can go from normal to a severe sneezing allergy with congestion and headache. It can happen within just a few minutes. I have serious hay fever and asthma. I am very lucky that I don’t have food allergies. But my allergies are enough to drive me crazy. Several times a week I require medication. It is what it is.

by Logan

Part Two – Do you or someone you know suffer from ADHD?

This is part Two of ADHD.  In part One, we looked at the 3 types of ADHD, the symptoms seen in each type, and we even looked at adult cases.   Part Two will look into causes of ADHD, the diagnosis, and the management of ADHD.

 Causes of ADHD

Genetics is the leading cause for ADHD at this time. It is believed that this disorder could be traced or seen to parents, cousins, grandparents, siblings, and other family members.   The hyperactivity portion may be genetic as well as family issues.

In some cases, genetics aren’t the primary cause.  Research is looking into potential environmental causes such as drug abuse by parents, smoking, hypoxia in-utero, pregnancy or birth complications, and others.

Genetics are believed to be a factor in three out of every four cases. But often, we rely too much on genetics rather looking at the environment.

It has been studied that Foster Children often have a higher number of symptoms related to ADHD.   Children who have been emotionally or physically abused may develop ADHD like symptoms. Children involved in or around severe violence may also develop symptoms.

A large issue that is being studied is the diet of a child with ADHD.  Giving excess sodium, sugar, sodas, and other foods may make ADHD worse or contribute to the condition.

Social Concerns

Children with ADHD often are friends with other children with ADHD.  Between the two friends, it may be difficult for other children to listen, learn, and be calm.

Teacher and parents may not know what to do in certain situations where ADHD symptoms might be more present or noticeable. Often large consequences, learning disabilities, loneliness, and overall trouble follow those with ADHD.

School years and developmental years can be very difficult for children having ADHD. They often feel mistrusted and misunderstood. This could develop into relationship strains between teachers, siblings,  parents and more.

Diagnosis of ADHD

Typically this is done through a medical/psychiatric assessment.  The goal is to rule out another cause, something potentially less or more concerning.

Diagnosis is made dependent on symptoms according to the DSM-IV and the duration of symptoms.

Symptoms mentioned previously often are seen in every child at different times in their lives. They may be so excited about something that many of them will have symptoms in the Hyperactive category. But those symptoms may only last a few minutes to a few hours.

Assumptions about a diagnosis for a child can cause a large amount of headache and heartache if you or another is wrong or right.  Allow a health care professional make the decision


Treatment or Management

Management is a treatment method that offers an open discussion about the symptoms and expectations.  A strategy is set forth to offer a range of options and possibilities that medication alone may not help.


There is a very good chance that this form of management will be beneficial for most children.  It is typically for those who have mild symptoms and/or for children who are first diagnosed at a young age.

This area of management includes:

–          Behavior Therapy
–          Psycho-Social Education
–          Cognitive Therapy
–          Interpersonal therapy
–          Family therapy
–          School based education and social skills training
–          Parent training


Medication treatment is a necessary part of the overall treatment and management of ADHD.  There are a number of medications that can work to stimulate a child. This will give them more energy in some cases. Other medications may be used and are considered non-stimulant medications.

Medications are not recommended for preschool children. This should be kept in mind that an age to start medication is important.

Risks of ADHD are plain and alarming. Children with ADHD are less likely to finish high school and are more likely to begin substance abuse. Often the reason is that they feel misunderstood and aren’t capable of sitting for long periods of time.

This of course can be managed through medications and behavior changes. But to expect a fifteen year old who hasn’t worked for years on behavior changes, is difficult to do. Children must know of their limitations and work to improve them. This takes time and careful monitoring.

If you have a child that you suspect may have ADHD, seek medical and mental health treatment. There is a good chance that they can succeed. They just may need a little more attention and help than they are getting.