Leukemia (British spelling: leukaemia ) is cancer of the blood or bone marrow (which produces blood cells). A person who has leukemia suffers from an abnormal production of blood cells, generally leukocytes (white blood cells).
People sometimes confuse leukemia and lymphoma. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood, lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system (lymph glands). The word Leukemia comes from the Greek leukos which means “white” and aima which means “blood”.
The DNA of immature blood cells, mainly white cells, becomes damaged in some way. This abnormality causes the blood cells to grow and divide chaotically. Normal blood cells die after a while and are replaced by new cells which are produced in the bone marrow. The abnormal blood cells do not die so easily, and accumulate, occupying more and more space. As more and more space is occupied by these faulty blood cells there is less and less space for the normal cells – and the sufferer becomes ill. Quite simply, the bad cells crowd out the good cells in the blood.
Contents of this article:
Function of the bone marrow
Types of leukemia
Symptoms of leukemia
What causes leukemia?
Treatments for leukemia
Fast facts on leukemia
Here are some key points about leukemia. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells. White blood cells help your body fight infection.
There are about 54,270 new cases of leukemia in the US each year.
Around 24,450 people die from leukemia per year in the US.
There are about 20,830 new cases of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and 10,460 deaths from AML in the US each year, most cases are adults.
Leukemia is the seventh leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
Approximately 1.5% of men and women will be diagnosed with leukemia at some point during their lifetime.
Compared to other cancers, leukemia is relatively rare.
Although leukemia is among the most common childhood cancers, it most often occurs in older adults.
Leukemia is slightly more common in men than women.
People with leukemia have many treatment options, and treatment for leukemia can often control the disease and its symptoms.
In order to better understand what goes on we need to have a look at what the bone marrow does.
Function of the bone marrow
The bone marrow is found in the inside of bones. The marrow in the large bones of adults produces blood cells. Approximately 4% of our total bodyweight consists of bone marrow.
There are two types of bone marrow: 1. Red marrow, made up mainly of myeloid tissue. 2. Yellow marrow, made up mostly of fat cells. Red marrow can be found in the flat bones, such as the breast bone, skull, vertebrae, shoulder blades, hip bone and ribs. Red marrow can also be found at the ends of long bones, such as the humerus and femur.
White blood cells (lymphocytes), red blood cells and platelets are produced in the red marrow. Red blood cells carry oxygen, white blood cells fight diseases. Platelets are essential for blood clotting. Yellow marrow can be found in the inside of the middle section of long bones.
If a person loses a lot of blood the body can convert yellow marrow to red marrow in order to raise blood cell production.
White blood cells, red blood cells and platelets exist in plasma – Blood plasma is the liquid component of blood, in which the blood cells are suspended.
Types of leukemia
Chronic and Acute
Experts divide leukemia into four large groups, each of which can be Acute, which is a rapidly progressing disease that results in the accumulation of immature, useless cells in the marrow and blood, or Chronic, which progresses more slowly and allows more mature, useful cells to be made. In other words, acute leukemia crowds out the good cells more quickly than chronic leukemia.
Lymphocytic and Myelogenous
Leukemias are also subdivided into the type of affected blood cell. If the cancerous transformation occurs in the type of marrow that makes lymphocytes, the disease is called lymphocytic leukemia. A lymphocyte is a kind of white blood cell inside your vertebrae immune system. If the cancerous change occurs in the type of marrow cells that go on to produce red blood cells, other types of white cells, and platelets, the disease is called myelogenous leukemia.
To recap, there are two groups of two groups – four main types of leukemia, as you can see in the illustration below:
Diagram of the types of leukemia
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), also known as Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia – This is the most common type of leukemia among young children, although adults can get it as well, especially those over the age of 65. Survival rates of at least five years range from 85% among children and 50% among adults. The following are all subtypes of this leukemia: precursor B acute lymphoblastic leukemia, precursor T acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Burkitt’s leukemia, and acute biphenotypic leukemia.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) – This is most common among adults over 55, although younger adults can get it as well. CLL hardly ever affects children. The majority of patients with CLL are men, over 60%. 75% of treated CLL patients survive for over five years. Experts say CLL is incurable. A more aggressive form of CLL is B-cell prolymphocytic leukemia.
Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) – AML is more common among adults than children, and affects males significantly more often than females. Patients are treated with chemotherapy. 40% of treated patients survive for over 5 years. The following are subtypes of AMS – acute promyelocytic leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, and acute megakaryoblastic leukemia.
Researchers from the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center reported in the March 2012 issue of NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine that they identified a series of genetic mutations in people with AML. They explained that their findings may help doctors to more accurately predict patient outcomes, as well as choosing therapies they are most likely to respond to.
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) – The vast majority of patients are adults. 90% of treated patients survive for over 5 years. Gleevec (imatinib) is commonly used to treat CML, as well as some other drugs. Chronic monocytic leukemia is a subtype of CML.
Symptoms of leukemia
Blood clotting is poor – As immature white blood cells crowd out blood platelets, which are crucial for blood clotting, the patient may bruise or bleed easily and heal slowly – he may also develop petechiae (a small red to purple spot on the body, caused by a minor hemorrhage).
Affected immune system – The patient’s white blood cells, which are crucial for fighting off infection, may be suppressed or not working properly. The patient may experience frequent infections, or his immune system may attack other good body cells.
Anemia – As the shortage of good red blood cells grows the patient may suffer from anemia – this may lead to difficult or labored respiration (dyspnea) and pallor (skin has a pale color caused by illness).
Other symptoms – Patients may also experience nausea, fever, chills, night sweats, flu-like symptoms, and tiredness. If the liver or spleen becomes enlarged the patient may feel full and will eat less, resulting in weight loss. Headache is more common among patients whose cancerous cells have invaded the CNS (central nervous system).
Precaution – As all these symptoms could be due to other illnesses. A diagnosis of leukemia can only be confirmed after medical tests are carried out.
What causes leukemia?
Experts say that different leukemias have different causes. The following are either known causes, or strongly suspected causes:
Artificial ionizing radiation
Viruses – HTLV-1 (human T-lymphotropic virus) and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)
Benzene and some petrochemicals
Alkylating chemotherapy agents used in previous cancers
Maternal fetal transmission (rare)
Genetic predisposition – some studies researching family history and looking at twins have indicated that some people have a higher risk of developing leukemia because of a single gene or multiple genes.
Down syndrome – people with Down syndrome have a significantly higher risk of developing leukemia, compared to people who do not have Down syndrome. Experts say that because of this, people with certain chromosomal abnormalities may have a higher risk.
Electromagnetic energy – studies indicate there is not enough evidence to show that ELF magnetic (not electric) fields that exist currently might cause leukemia. The IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) says that studies which indicate there is a risk tend to be biased and unreliable.
Recent developments on leukemia from MNT news
Breastfeeding linked with lower risk of childhood leukemia
The benefits of breastfeeding are reiterated in a new systematic review and meta-analysis published in JAMA Pediatrics that reports an association between breastfeeding and lower risk of childhood leukemia.
Avocado compound holds promise for treating leukemia
According to research published in the journal Cancer Research, there is a compound in avocados – called avocatin B – that holds promise for a new treatment for AML.
Could low vitamin D increase the risk of leukemia?
Many cases of leukemia across the globe may be caused by vitamin D deficiency as a result of low sunlight exposure. This is the conclusion of a new study published in PLOS One.
Treatments for leukemia
As the various types of leukemias affect patients differently, their treatments depend on what type of leukemia they have. The type of treatment will also depend on the patient’s age and his state of health.
In order to get the most effective treatment the patient should get treatment at a center where doctors have experience and are well trained in treating leukemia patients. As treatment has improved, the aim of virtually all health care professionals should be complete remission – that the cancer goes away completely for a minimum of five years after treatment.
Treatment for patients with acute leukemias should start as soon as possible – this usually involves induction therapy with chemotherapy, and takes place in a hospital.
When a patient is in remission he will still need consolidation therapy or post induction therapy. This may involve chemotherapy, as well as a bone marrow transplant (allogeneic stem cell transplantation).
If a patient has Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML) his treatment should start as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed. He will be given a drug, probably Gleevec (imatinib mesylate), which blocks the BCR-ABL cancer gene. Gleevec stops the CML from getting worse, but does not cure it. There are other drugs, such as Sprycel (dasatinib) and Tarigna (nilotinb), which also block the BCR-ABL cancer gene. Patients who have not had success with Gleevec are usually given Sprycel and Tarigna. All three drugs are taken orally. A bone marrow transplant is the only current way of curing a patient with CML. The younger the patient is the more likely the transplant will be successful.
Synribo (omacetaxine mepesuccinate) was approved by the FDA, on 26th October 2012, for the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in adult patients who had been treated with at least two drugs, but whose cancer continued to progress. Resistance to medications is common in CML. Synribo is an alkaloid from Cephalotaxus harringtonia which inhibits proteins that trigger the development of cancerous cells. The drug is administered subcutaneously.
Patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) may not receive any treatment for a long time after diagnosis. Those who do will normally be given chemotherapy or monoclonal antibody therapy. Some patients with CLL may benefit from allogeneic stem cell transplantation (bone marrow transplant).
Rabbit antibodies help Leukemia patients – scientists from Virginia Commonwealth University reported in the journal Bone Marrow Transplantation (July 2012 issue) that rabbit antibodies can improve survival and reduce the occurrence of relapses in patients with leukemia and myelodysplasia who are receiving a stem transplant from an unrelated donor.
Leukemia patients’ own T-cells achieve remission for over two years – patients who were infused with their own T-cells after they had been genetically altered to fight cancer tumors stayed in full remission for over 24 months. Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania presented their findings at the American Society of Hematology’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in December 2012. All those who took part in the human study had advanced cancers – ten of them had chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and two children had acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
All leukemia patients, regardless of what type they have or had, will need to be checked regularly by their doctors after the cancer has gone (in remission). They will undergo exams and blood tests. The doctors will occasionally test their bone marrow. As time passes and the patient continues to remain free of leukemia the doctor may decide to lengthen the intervals between tests.
New leukemia immune cell therapy shows promise – New findings on cell therapy to treat leukemia bring more encouraging news of the promise that this experimental area of cancer treatment holds for patients for whom conventional approaches do not work. The research was published in the journal Science Translational Medicine in February 2014.
Recent developments on leukemia treatment from MNT news
‘New drug target for leukemia identified’
A new drug target for treating leukemia has been identified as part of the largest ever genetic analysis of tumor growth in childhood blood cancer.
Leukemia cells can kill each other, study finds
The discovery of a rare human antibody has pointed to a way of getting leukemia cells to kill each other, according to research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A Japanese treatment called “Otonamaki” or “adult wrapping” is a physical therapy method aiming to correct body posture problems and stiffness and it is gaining popularity across the country.
This new way of therapy practice was derived from Ohinamaki, which is wrapping up a baby using a cloth similarly to help with their physical development.
Otonomaki therapy would last around 20 minutes for each session.
“The reason why Otonamaki was invented was because some people were worried about babies struggling or feeling claustrophobic while being wrapped up,” says Orie Matsuo of Kyoko Proportion, one of the several companies that offer Otonamaki to its customers.
“We thought if adults were rolled up like them, they could experience how good it feels.”
Based on the customer’s experience and feedback, it seems that Otonamaki therapy is definitely proving successful.
“It looks cramped but it doesn’t feel tight at all,” said a 40-year-old customer of Kyoko Proportion. “It’s the opposite of that. Afterward, I felt an improvement in my shoulders and back.”
“It felt so good I almost fell asleep. My neck and lower back were relaxed, “said another customer. ”I want my husband to learn [how to do] it.”
However, some people look at it as a bit too ‘weird’ and ‘creepy’.
One Twitter user tweeted, “This looks so creepy,” while another user said, “This looks like the horror movie ‘Audition’”.
This bizarre-looking physical therapy was invented by the Japanese midwife Nobuko Watanabe, who is also the creator of the top maternity belt – a product that is popularly used in Japan.
Otonomaki mainly targets women and some of them see it as an alternative to the normal practice of massage or physical therapy.
According to Ms. Matsuo, Otonamaki makes the user’s hips, leg and shoulder muscles more flexible.
“By pushing your shoulders and legs together, your body gets straightened and removes the pain of your back, lower back, and hip joint,” she told the news.
“Some of our clients come to treat their pelvis after childbirth, or others to fix bow legs,” she added.
The company first launched the therapeutic practice in 2015, and so far, around 70 people have experienced the therapy offered by them. But this therapy is still not being practiced by most Japanese.
Shimpei Fukumoto, the Director of the Fukumoto Japanese Holistic Clinic said, “I’ve never heard of Otonamaki or tried it myself”.
“I understand what they are trying to do but it’s not traditional physiotherapy.” Dr. Fukumoto added.
‘This treatment is not advisable’
This new method of therapy is being used as an anti-stress technique, and many who have experienced it said it is very effective. However, many people still think this new technique is part of established physical therapy procedure.
“I totally disagree with the treatment method,” said Mr. Visvanathan Ravi, Senior Physiotherapist at Hallmark Physiotherapy. “The way they were wrapped up may lead to muscle strains if not in the short-term, but the long-term.
“If a person stays in the position for 30 minutes, I’m sure there will be spine problems. It’s not advisable to do this treatment.”
Old blood may have a powerful effect, damaging organs and contributing to ageing. Now a compound has been developed that seems to protect against this, preventing mice’s brains from ageing.
The effects of blood on ageing were first discovered in experiments that stitched young and old mice together so that they shared circulating blood. Older mice seem to benefit from such an arrangement, developing healthier organs and becoming protected from age-related disease. But young mice aged prematurely.
Such experiments suggest that, while young blood can be restorative, there is something in old blood that is actively harmful. Now Hanadie Yousef at Stanford University in California seems to have identified a protein that is causing some of the damage, and has developed a way to block it.
Yousef has found that the amount of a protein called VCAM1 in the blood increases with age. In people over the age of 65, the levels of this protein are 30 per cent higher than in under-25s.
To test the effect of VCAM1, Yousef injected young mice with blood plasma taken from older mice. Sure enough, they showed signs of ageing: more inflammation in the brain, and fewer new brain cells being generated, which happens in a process called neurogenesis.
Blood plasma from old people had the same effect on mice. When she injected plasma from people in their late 60s into the bodies of 3-month-old mice – about 20 years in human terms – the mice’s brains showed signs of ageing.
These effects were prevented when Yousef injected a compound that blocks VCAM1. When the mice were given this antibody before or at the same time as old blood, they were protected from its harmful effects.
“When we age, we all have decreased cognitive function, decreased neurogenesis, and more inflammation in the brain,” says Yousef, who presented her findings at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego in November last year. “If we can figure out the mechanisms and reverse that, then we could promote healthy ageing. That’s what I truly believe will come out of this research eventually.”
“It’s a sound study and it has a lot of potential,” says Jonathan Godbout at Ohio State University in Columbus. He says he’d like to see more data, but is cautiously optimistic that the work could lead to a treatment that could protect ageing brains.
Some teams have begun giving plasma from young donors to older people, to see if it can improve their health, or even reduce the effect of Alzheimer’s disease. But for the best chances of success, we’ll also need to neutralise the damaging effects of old blood, says Yousef.
Miles Herkenham at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, says he is impressed with Yousef’s findings. It’s very surprising that a single protein seems to have such a huge effect, he says, but the results need to be replicated by another lab. “I like the idea, but I wouldn’t want to rush into human trials yet,” he says.
Target the old
A drug that protects people from the effects of old blood would be preferable to plasma injections, says Yousef. Should transfusions from young donors turn out to be effective, it would be difficult to scale this up as a treatment for all. Drugs that block harmful proteins in our own blood would be cheaper, safer and more accessible.
“At the end of the day, nobody wants blood transfusions,” says Yousef. “We want rejuvenating proteins and antibodies to help people age in a healthy manner.” She is patenting her compound, and hopes to develop a treatment to protect people from the effects of ageing.
The fact that Yousef’s antibody protects the mouse brain is particularly promising, because most drugs aren’t able to get into the brain – they fail to pass through the protective cell barrier that separates the brain from the body’s bloodstream.
Yousef’s drug doesn’t need to pass this barrier, because the protein it targets is present in the cells of the barrier itself.
Read more: Blood from human teens rejuvenates body and brains of old mice
MONSTER TUMOUR Antique dealer, 57, has surgery to remove 63kg tumour from his stomach – which started as an ingrowing hair
57, has surgery to remove 63kg tumour from his stomach – which started as an ingrowing hair
Roger Logan has now walked for the first time in years
BY JOHN SHAMMAS
AN ANTIQUES dealer has had a massive 140-pound tumour removed – which all started as ingrowing hair.
Roger Logan, of Gulfport, Mississippi, began piling on weight 12 years ago but doctors told him it was “just fat”.
The tumour had grown so large it even had its own blood supply
Mr Logan was no longer able to be physically active, and was mostly confined to an armchair
The 57-year-old was eventually told by his doctor that it was a tumour, which began as ingrown hair.
Doctor Vipul Dev revealed that it had grown so large it even had its own blood supply.
Mr Logan was no longer able to be physically active, and had to give up managing his shop.
Eventually he was left stuck in an armchair at home, which was big enough to support the tumour.
After his wife Kitty found a surgeon who said they could remove the growth, he was told he only had a 50% chance of surviving the operation.
The surgery, which took place in California, was a success however, and on Thursday he managed to walk by himself for the first time in years.
The 57-year-old was told he only had a 50/50 chance of surviving the procedure
Mr Logon with family members as he recovers from the major surgery
Speaking to the Bakersfield Californian, he said: “I never want to see that armchair again.
“My feet are together.
“They haven’t been together in years.”
There are a lot of ways to describe excessive gas: burping, belching, flatulence, and bloating. While what you call it might not seem to matter, being able to identify where gas starts – and where it ends – can help you treat painful or embarrassing symptoms.
For example, burping and belching usually refer to gas that escapes from the mouth, while flatulence, or farting, is intestinal gas that escapes from the rectum. Bloating is used to describe the sensation of excess stomach gas that has not yet been released.
Some gas after eating – and releasing it through belching or flatulence – is normal. According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, most people produce as many as one to four pints of gas a day, which they pass, on average, about 14 times a day.
However, if you’re experiencing painful gas and the embarrassment of chronic and foul smelling flatulence, you can start to play detective and try to eliminate the cause.
Step 1: Avoid Foods Known to Cause Gas
One way to manage flatulence and belching is to eat fewer of the well-known gassy foods. Common culprits include: certain fruits, like apples and pears; vegetables including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and onions; whole grains such as bran; and dairy products like milk, cheese, and ice cream. These items contain fiber, sugars, and starches that don’t digest or absorb easily, eventually causing intestinal gas.
Foods containing sorbitol, a naturally occurring sugar found in fruit, are on some people’s gassy-foods list. Others are bothered by carbonated soft drinks and fruit drinks. If you discover that these foods are causing you excess gas, eliminate them from your diet or eat them in small portions. When it comes to foods to avoid, the key is to be like the Greeks, says Stephen Bickston, MD, professor of internal medicine and director of the inflammatory bowel disease program at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Center in Richmond. “Everything in moderation.”
Keep in mind that almost any food or combination of foods can cause gas. “Certain foods don’t get along together in certain people,” says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with Harrison Medical Center in Poulsbo, Washington. “Some people find they are gassy if they eat fruits with proteins, or if they eat starches and proteins together. It’s personal and requires a little experimentation to find out what the culprits are.” Dr. Novey suggests keeping a food diary and noting when you feel gassy. “If you find you’re gassy after eating a certain food, eliminate it from your diet and see if it helps,” he says.
Cooking may help break down some of the offending ingredients, Bickston says. “But the style of cooking can also decrease healthy chemicals found in vegetables. Boiling seems to break down chlorophyll and other desirable ingredients.” Look for recipes that call for steaming as that seems to be a better cooking method for gassy foods.
RELATED: Seriously Bloated: Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore
Step 2: Try These Ways to Minimize Gas
Here are six steps you can take to cut down on painful gas:
1 Drink before meals. If you drink liquids with your meals, you lose stomach acids and can’t break down food as well, Novey says. Try drinking about 30 minutes before a meal to help your stomach digest better.
2 Eat and drink slowly. When you eat or drink fast, you can swallow a lot of air, which can cause gas, says Bickston. The simple solution? Slow down when you eat. If you have dentures, check with your dentist to be sure they fit properly so you’re not gasping air while eating.
3 Take over-the-counter digestive aids. Digestive enzymes are available as over-the-counter supplements. “I recommend going to the health-food store and getting a digestive enzyme,” says Novey. “You can take one or two. You will know very rapidly – within a few weeks if it makes a difference.” However, antacids won’t do much for excessive gas, says Bickston. Another over-the-counter digestive aid, Beano, contains an enzyme that can allow the body to digest the sugar in beans and many vegetables. Add five drops of the liquid form or swallow one Beano tablet per half-cup serving of food before eating. Heating degrades the enzyme in Beano, so adding it to foods while cooking reduces its effectiveness. Beano will not help if excessive gas is caused by fiber or lactose.
4 Try activated charcoal. Activated charcoal has been known to reduce and treat excess gas and bloating. Unlike the charcoal you find in your grill or fireplace, activated charcoal undergoes a special treatment that makes it safe for human consumption. Once you take activated charcoal (via liquid or pill), it attaches to fluid in your gut, reducing gas and bloating and creating firmer stools.
5 Don’t fill up on air. Habits like smoking, chewing gum, and drinking through a straw may cause your stomach to fill with air, leading to gas.
6 Avoid artificial sweeteners. Sorbitol and related sugar alcohols used in many sugar-free versions of foods can also aggravate gas. “Sorbitol is the first ingredient in every brand of sugar-free gum I’ve found at local grocery stores,” says Bickston. “One to two sticks is akin to eating a prune.” However, the sugar substitutes that are found at a typical coffee stand or in popular soft drinks are not the kind that cause gas. The various packet sweeteners – yellow (sucralose), pink (saccharine), and blue (aspartame) – are not associated with gas or laxative effects.
When Gas Is a Symptom of Something Else
If your excessive gas is persistent or severe, consult your doctor – it could be a sign of a more serious digestive condition, such as:
Lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, the sugar found in milk and milk products. “I test with a milk challenge,” says Bickston. “The patient drinks a pint or two of milk – it can be any percent fat. What follows tells the patients whether they should limit their milk intake.” If avoiding milk reduces your symptoms you may be lactose intolerant.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). “Patients who meet the diagnostic checklist for irritable bowel syndrome suffer more pain at the lower levels of abdominal cavity,” he says.
Colon cancer. “Excess gas is rarely the presenting symptom for patients with colon cancer,” Bickston notes. “But it does trigger my reflex to remind patients to get screened for colorectal cancer.”
Upper gastrointestinal disorders. Occasional belching is normal, but frequent belching may be a sign of an upper gastrointestinal disorder. These include peptic ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or gastroparesis, also called delayed gastric emptying.
Also, warns Bickston, if you have had abdominal surgery, a hernia, or significant weight loss or weight gain, never dismiss your gas-like symptoms as normal. Get them checked out.
As annoying as it might be, some gas is a natural by-product of the body’s digestive system. But if your gas is excessive, painful, or chronic, talk to your doctor about possible causes and remedies.
Chronic stress puts your health at risk
Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body. Take steps to control your stress.
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Your body is hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect you against threats from predators and other aggressors. Such threats are rare today, but that doesn’t mean that life is free of stress.
On the contrary, you undoubtedly face multiple demands each day, such as shouldering a huge workload, making ends meet and taking care of your family. Your body treats these so-called minor hassles as threats. As a result you may feel as if you’re constantly under assault. But you can fight back. You don’t have to let stress control your life.
Understanding the natural stress response
When you encounter a perceived threat — a large dog barks at you during your morning walk, for instance — your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.
Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain’s use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.
Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.
When the natural stress response goes haywire
The body’s stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.
But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on.
The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:
Memory and concentration impairment
That’s why it’s so important to learn healthy ways to cope with the stressors in your life.
Why you react to life stressors the way you do
Your reaction to a potentially stressful event is different from anyone else’s. How you react to stressors in your life is affected by such factors as:
Genetics. The genes that control the stress response keep most people on a fairly even keel, only occasionally priming the body for fight or flight. Overactive or underactive stress responses may stem from slight differences in these genes.
Life experiences. Strong stress reactions sometimes can be traced to traumatic events. People who were neglected or abused as children tend to be particularly vulnerable to stress. The same is true of people who have experienced violent crime, airplane crash survivors, military personnel, police officers and firefighters.
You may have some friends who seem laid-back about almost everything and others who react strongly at the slightest stress. Most reactions to life stressors fall somewhere between those extremes.
Learning to react to stress in a healthy way
Stressful events are a fact of life. And you may not be able to change your current situation. But you can take steps to manage the impact these events have on you.
You can learn to identify what stresses you and how to take care of yourself physically and emotionally in the face of stressful situations.
Stress management strategies include:
Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep
Practicing relaxation techniques such as trying yoga, practicing deep breathing, getting a massage or learning to meditate
Taking time for hobbies, such as reading a book or listening to music
Fostering healthy friendships
Having a sense of humor
Volunteering in your community
Seeking professional counseling when needed
The payoff for learning to manage stress is peace of mind and — perhaps — a longer, healthier life.
Hemorrhoids are swollen veins in the lowest part of your rectum and anus. Sometimes the walls of these blood vessels stretch so thin that the veins bulge and get irritated, especially when you poop.
Swollen hemorrhoids are also called piles.
Hemorrhoids are one of the most common causes of rectal bleeding. They’re rarely dangerous and usually clear up in a couple of weeks. But you should see your doctor to make sure it’s not a more serious condition. He can also remove hemorrhoids that won’t go away or are very painful.
Internal and External Hemorrhoids
Internal hemorrhoids are far enough inside the rectum that you can’t usually see or feel them. They don’t generally hurt because you have few pain-sensing nerves there. Bleeding may be the only sign of them.
External hemorrhoids are under the skin around the anus, where there are many more pain-sensing nerves, so they tend to hurt as well as bleed.
Sometimes hemorrhoids prolapse, or get bigger and bulge outside the anal sphincter. Then you may be able to see them as moist bumps that are pinker than the surrounding area. And they’re more likely to hurt, often when you poop.
Hemorrhoids Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Prolapsed hemorrhoids usually go back inside on their own. Even if they don’t, they can often be gently pushed back into place.
A blood clot can form in an external hemorrhoid, turning it purple or blue. This is called a thrombosis. It can hurt and itch a lot and could bleed. When the clot dissolves, you may still have a bit of skin left over, which could get irritated.
What Causes Them?
Some people may be more likely to get hemorrhoids if other family members, like their parents, had them.
A buildup of pressure in your lower rectum can affect blood flow and make the veins there swell. That may happen from extra weight, when you’re obese or pregnant. Or it could come from:
Pushing during bowel movements
Straining when you do something that’s physically hard, like lifting something heavy
People who stand or sit for long stretches of time are at greater risk, too.
You may get them when you have constipation or diarrhea that doesn’t clear up. Coughing, sneezing, and vomiting could make them worse.
How to Prevent Them
Eat fiber. A good way to get it is from plant foods — vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes.
Drink water. It will help you avoid hard stools and constipation, so you strain less during bowel movements. Fruits and vegetables, which have fiber, also have water in them.
Hemorrhoids Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment
Exercise. Physical activity, like walking a half-hour every day, is another way to keep your blood and your bowels moving.
Don’t wait to go. Use the toilet as soon as you feel the urge.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD on September 06, 2016
Why does it occur
What Casues Acne
Acne occurs when glands (called sebaceous glands) in the follicles of the skin become overactive. These glands produce sebum, an oily substance that helps to stop the skin drying out. Someone with acne produces too much sebum, which forms a plug with dead skin cells and blocks the follicle.
If the blocked follicle is close to the skin surface, it balloons outwards and forms a whitehead. If the plug it the top of the follicle – opening on to the skin surface, it can be seen as a blackhead.
Bacteria that live on the skin – and which are usually completely harmless – can then infect the plugged follicles. This can cause the surrounding skin to become red and sore, and produce pus, leading to spots, nodules and cysts.
Areas of skin with the most follicles are the face, upper back and chest, which explains why acne tends to occur in these regions.
Why do some people have acne but not others?
The exact cause of acne is not known, but it is probably associated with several related factors:
Teenagers are particularly prone to acne because levels of hormones (known as androgens) increase at puberty. These hormones cause an increase in the size of the sebaceous glands and the amount of oil they produce.
Hormonal changes occurring in pregnancy, or on starting or stopping birth control pills (the Pill) can also cause acne.
Acne can also run in families. If one or both or your parents had acne, or a brother or sister, this can increase your chances of developing the condition.
Certain medicines, including androgen hormones, and lithium, can cause acne.
Why does acne sometimes get worse?
Several factors can cause acne to get worse:
Changing levels of hormones in teenage girls and women, usually two to seven days before their period starts.
Oil from skin products, such as moisturisers and make-up, or grease in the workplace (such as a kitchen with fryers).
Irritants in the environment, such as air pollution or humid conditions
Squeezing or picking blackheads, whiteheads or spots
Scrubbing the skin
Everyone wants an acne-free face. But not everyone is willing to do the things that are necessary to keep your face free from dirt, oil, and inflammation. At the end of the day, however, an acne-free face is completely achievable. Read on for some helpful hints about how to keep your face free from acne.
Eat omega-3 fatty acids. There’s fat, and then there’s healthy fat. Healthy fats, like omega-3s, help fight inflammation and promote healthy cells. Omega-3s are damaged by oxygen, meaning if you eat foods that are rich in omega-3s, try to eat them raw. In a pinch, baked or broiled is better than boiling or fried. Foods rich in omega-3s include:
Importance of Caring for Your Eyes
BY JACOB MABILLE | EYE DISORDERS
Eye is one of the most sensitive organs in our body that needs extreme care to prevent any problems or abnormalities. Problems in vision arise due to a variety of factors. One of the most common reasons is the age. Vision problems are more common once we grow older and older. Hence, preventive measures should be taken right from the young age to maintain healthy eyes. In case any symptoms of problems are recognized, they need to be treated immediately.
The most common eye problems that are diagnosed during old age are:
• Blind spots – Areas in the field of our vision where we are not able to see anything.
• Blurred vision – People experience problems in seeing the sharpness of objects and also viewing small details.
• Glaucoma – Poor vision in the dark, difficulties in peripheral vision. If ignored can result in sudden or gradual blindness.
• Nearsightedness – Inability to see objects that are nearby. Commonly diagnosed for people who are in their mid 40s.
• Cataract – Cloudiness above the eye lens which is indicated by the presence of halos around lights. People become very sensitive to glare. Poor vision both during the day and also the night.
• Macular degeneration – Blurred, distorted and poor central vision causing blindness in people who are above 60 years of age.
• Floaters – There’s a possibility of detach of retina. People experience drifting of certain particles in the eye.
• Diabetic retinopathy – It can result in blindness due to bleeding in the eye retina.
• Optic neuritis – Optical nerve becomes inflamed due to some type of infection or disease like multiple sclerosis.
• Detached retina – Sense of blockage in vision, floater particles or light flashes in the field of your vision.
• Temporal arteritis – This is caused due to the inflammation of arteries that supply blood to the optic nerve.
• Migraines – This causes severe headaches. Some people visualize zigzag patterns or halos.
Other factors causing visual problems could be any injury to the eye, an accident that has caused serious impact on the visual capabilities, serious eye infections, diseases that result in affecting the eye and vision like diabetes.
There are various specialists in eye care. Some of the most important types are listed below:
• Optician. He can prescribe eye glasses but may not be an expert to diagnose problems in vision.
• Optometrist. Examines the eye, performs certain tests and diagnoses based on the examinations. He may be able to even treat any diseases related to the eye.
• Ophthalmologist. Physician who is an eye specialist and can both diagnose vision problems and treat the same.
Some of the simple lifestyle tips can help to enhance the eye care:
Avoid smoking completely
Limit consumption of alcohol
Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes in extreme glares
Control the level of antihistamines and blood pressure pills
Keep the cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar under control
Consume nutritious food items rich in vitamin A. Some raw vegetables are very rich sources of vitamin A that helps in eye care
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is surprisingly the most widely used dietary condiment in the world today. It’s actually part of the plant family that includes turmeric and cardamom, which may explain why the health benefits of ginger are so extraordinary.
The Chinese and Indians have used ginger tonics to treat ailments for over 4,700 years, and it was a priceless commodity during the Roman Empire trade around the coming of Christ because of its medicinal properties.
So, what makes ginger so good for us?
In one word: Gingerol.
Of the 115 different chemical components found in ginger root, the therapeutic benefits come from gingerols, the oily resin from the root that acts as a highly potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. These bioactive ingredients, especially -gingerol, have been thoroughly evaluated clinically, and the research backs up why you should use ginger on a regular basis.
Top 10 Ginger Health Benefits
Here are the top ginger health benefits proven by medical studies:
1. Stroke and Heart Disease
Two of the biggest killers on the planet may be kept at bay with regular ginger use, especially when eaten with other key superfoods. Garlic, ginger and onions all have an anti-blood-clotting ability, yet when they’re eaten together they’re a powerful mainstay against heart attacks and stroke!
2. Indigestion and Nausea
Whether we’re talking about curing a simple tummy ache or severe morning sickness, ginger has been used for thousands of years as an effective digestive aid and natural remedy for nausea. Recently, Taiwanese researchers discovered that three capsules (1.2 grams total) of ginger can actually help the stomach release its contents into the small intestines in people with dyspepsia — a condition in which 40 percent of patients suffer from abnormally delayed gastric emptying.
This is one reason why ginger helps people who are bloated, constipated and have other gastrointestinal disorders. It relaxes the smooth muscle in your gut lining and helps food move along throughout the system.
Key takeaway: Eating whole ginger, drinking fresh ginger juice and inhaling diffused ginger essential oil are all highly effective ways to curb stomach disorders.
Proper food transport (and nutrient absorption) from the mouth out through your colon is the mainstay to health. If food gets stuck somewhere in between, it can ferment, rot or (even worse) cause obstruction, which is a life-threatening emergency.
Improper digestion can also cause improper assimilation of the nutrients in your food. Either way, both cause malabsorption, and your body suffers from nutrient deficiencies. This is why ginger is so important. Like we’ve seen above, it helps promote regular digestion and metabolism of your food and is largely responsible for promoting a strong immune system.
4. Compromised Immunity and Respiratory Function
Ayurvedic medicine has praised ginger’s ability to boost the immune system before recorded history. It believes that because ginger is so effective at warming the body, it can help break down the accumulation of toxins in your organs. It’s also known to cleanse the lymphatic system, our body’s sewage system.
Dr. Oz says, “By opening up these lymphatic channels and keeping things clean, ginger prevents the accumulation of the toxins that make you susceptible to infections, especially in the respiratory system.” Combining ginger oil and eucalyptus oil is an effective remedy to boost immunity and improve breathing.
5. Bacterial Infections
The Journal of Microbiology and Antimicrobials published a study in 2011 that tested just how effective ginger is in enhancing immune function. Comparing the ability of ginger to kill Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes with conventional antibiotics, Nigerian researchers discovered that the natural solution won every time!
The drugs — chloramphenicol, ampicillin and tetracycline — just couldn’t stand up to the antibacterial prowess of the ginger extract. This is important because these two bacteria are extremely common in hospitals and oftentimes cause complications to an already immune-compromised patient.
Key takeaway: If you ever need to go to the hospital for surgery or to visit a friend, make sure you bring some ginger essential oil with you and add a couple drops to your water. You’re less likely to get a dangerous staph infection, and it can help speed the healing process! Other healing remedies that are effective against infections include oregano oil, clove oil and melaleuca oil.
6. Fungal Infections
One of the trickier issues to control because they’re increasingly resistant to conventional medicine, fungal infections don’t stand a chance against ginger. Of the 29 plant species evaluated in a Carleton University study, ginger won the prize for having the extract most effective at killing fungus.
Key takeaway: For a powerful antifungal punch, mix several drops of pure ginger essential oil with tea tree oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil, and apply up to three times a day.
7. Ulcers and GERD
Since the 1980s, researchers have known that ginger can cure stomach ulcers. More recently, Indian scientists have been able to more closely quantify this medicinal effect. In a study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, they discovered the ginger was six to eight times more potent than Prevacid, the drug of choice to treat GERD!
Ginger is known for its anti-pain property. Very similar to how capsaicin works to relieve pain, gingerol acts on vanilloid receptors, which are located on sensory nerve endings. Similar to the initial intense burning feel you get when you consume spicy pepper, ginger’s burn only lasts but a second, and researchers discovered that it “affects the pain pathways directly but also relieves the inflammation, which in itself causes pain.”
Working with mice without immune systems, University of Minnesota scientists discovered that three weekly feedings of -gingerol delayed the growth of colorectal cancer cells. University of Michigan researchers confirmed these results with ovarian cancer. In fact, they found that “Ginger treatment of cultured ovarian cancer cells induced profound growth inhibition in all cell lines tested.”
Key takeaway: The executive director of the Herbal Medicine Research and Education Centre, Basil Roufogalis, advised that, “The most likely way to administer ginger as a painkiller would be in the form of a tea taken several times a day, but more work needs to be done on the amount of ginger powder needed per dose to take effect, and the time required between doses.” For most people, taking 1,000 milligrams of powdered ginger root is effective — or two drops two times daily of ginger essential oil.
Gingerols are widely known to naturally improve diabetes and enhance insulin sensitivity. Building off this knowledge, a 2006 study out of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry discovered that they could also suppress sorbitol accumulation in human blood cells and sugar-fed rats. Simply put, ginger not only helps prevent and reverse diabetes itself — it protects against and improves diabetic complications like diabetic retinopathy!
Best Ways to Use Ginger
There are many forms and ways you can use ginger to benefit for your health. The most common forms of ginger include:
Raw Ginger — You can put raw sliced ginger (the size of your thumb) in a smoothie every morning or use it in making homemade vegetable juice.
Ginger Essential Oil — The most potent form of ginger is ginger essential oil because it contains the highest levels of gingerol. This is the No. 1 way ginger can be used as medicine. It can be taken internally to treat health conditions or rubbed topically with a carrier oil on an area of pain. Typically, two to three drops of essential oil is the recommended therapeutic dose.
Ginger Tea — This liquid form of ginger is commonly used to relieve nausea, settle the stomach and relax the body. Have one cup two to three times daily to reduce inflammation. Also, adding a bit of raw honey and lemon to the tea makes it taste great!
Ginger Powder — Using ground ginger powder for cooking is an excellent way to take advantage of this super spice. I use it in making Chicken Curry, homemade pumpkin pie and a ginger berry smoothie for breakfast. Also, it can be taken in supplement form as a capsule with the recommended dose of 1,000 milligrams daily.