Extra! Extra! Read all about it! The papers are abuzz with breastfeeding controversy, costly diseases, and Internet romance. Do you keep up on all the current health news headlines? Take my quiz to test your knowledge. But if you don't know, don't worry. We'll be sure to explain all of the latest happenings to you in the end!Take the Quiz
Chikungunya, which name means "that which bends up," was first discovered in Tanzania in 1952. The virus is spread by infected Asian tiger mosquito, a species that can be found in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand. Unlike the West Nile Virus where nine out of 10 people infected show no symptoms, those who contract the Chikungunya virus experience a fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and muscle and joint pain. Symptoms can last a few weeks, and some have reported pain lasting for months. There is no cure for the virus yet.
Health officials are worried that since this little bugger can be transported through air travel, it could eventually affect every country in the world. Great. One more thing to worry about. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to steer clear of damp areas where mosquitoes thrive, wear long sleeves and pants when outside, and don't forget the bug spray.
Parents increasingly opt out of vaccination because they believe vaccines cause autism. Most of the measles cases this year involve people who were unvaccinated, or unsure if they had been vaccinate. Two-thirds of the infected in the US were not vaccinated because of their parents' religious or philosophical beliefs. Such beliefs trigger an exemption to mandatory vaccination laws.
The rise in measles could be an unhealthy harbinger. When vaccination levels decrease, measles, an aggressively contagious disease, manifests itself before other illnesses. Scientific studies say vaccinations are safe, but many parents feel strongly about their connection to autism. Should these parents be allowed to follow their instincts and make an important parenting decision, or are they putting modern society at risk for a widespread disease thought to be eradicated?
Do you remember getting a tetanus shot as a kid? They were so painful. When explaining why a tetanus shot is important, people always mention stepping on a rusty nail. Apparently rusty nails aren't the only things to worry about. Tetanus is a disease caused by bacteria that live in dust, animal waste, or soil. If you get a cut, burn, splinter, puncture, insect bite, or any other break in your skin, your wound can become infected with these bacteria. When the bacterial spores multiply in your body, they create a poison that affects your muscles and causes uncontrollable spasms. It can even affect your breathing and result in death. Yikes!
As a child, you most likely were vaccinated by the time you were six years old. Every 10 years after that you should get a booster shot. Since I'm sure many of you are walking around barefoot this Summer, I was wondering . . .
A British woman will soon give birth to a baby guaranteed to be free of hereditary breast cancer. Out of 11 embryos, five were free of the breast cancer gene, and two were implanted in the mother.
The father had the gene, and his sister, mother, grandmother, and cousin all had cancer. Now, the breast cancer-causing gene has been purged from the couple's lineage. Of course the baby will be susceptible to environmental cancer-causing factors.
I worry that if genetic selection becomes widespread, we may forfeit diversity, while excluding useful genes from the pool. Of course, it makes sense that a mother chose the healthiest embryo during in vitro fertilization — I just wonder if we really know which embryo is the "healthiest" in the long run.
Is embryo screening a courageous way for parents to spare their children from painful diseases? Should the law address the moral issues accompanied with selective pregnancies? Could we end up making humans more susceptible to disease, if we manipulate the gene pool too much?
Disease caused by worms and parasites, which negatively impact child development and contribute to heart disease, disproportionately infect America's poor.
Dr. Peter Hotez, who works for George Washington University and the Sabin Vaccine Institute, studied nine parasitic diseases affecting 10 million Americans. His research found that the diseases occur predominately in "people of color living in the Mississippi Delta and elsewhere in the American South, in disadvantaged areas, and in the US-Mexico borderlands, as well as in certain immigrant populations and disadvantaged white populations living in Appalachia."
Hotez concludes that like malaria did last century, these diseases could produce a generation of weak unproductive adults, furthering the cycle of poverty. In addition, climate change could lead to a wider spread of diseases like dengue fever, more common to the developing world.
What should the US do to decrease the health gap between rich and the poor? Should health considerations be treated like equality efforts in other areas, like education?
The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that the risk of a global AIDS pandemic among heterosexuals has decreased. Of course this assessment does not apply to Africa.
Dr. Kevin de Cock, the head of the WHO's department of HIV/Aids said:
It is very unlikely there will be a heterosexual epidemic in other countries. Ten years ago a lot of people were saying there would be a generalized epidemic in Asia – China was the big worry with its huge population. That doesn't look likely. But we have to be careful.
Certain areas are still at risk. In Russia, in 2006, 1 percent of the population was infected, the same number as South Africa in 1991, whose infection rate has now risen to 25 percent of the population. Yet, experts doubt that Russia will see the same dramatic rise.
Recent research claims that significant funding is being wasted in Africa on condom distribution, HIV testing, and vaccine research. Instead, some say, money should be spent on male circumcision, reducing the number of sexual partners, and improving health systems. Is it time to reassess the global AIDS initiative? Should we concentrate funds on high-risk locations, or continue a broad education campaign, which appears to be working in many places?
The bird flu (known as H5N1) has been in the news a lot, and recently a case of human-to-human transmission was confirmed in China. A father caught it from his son, and unfortunately the son passed away. The father took antivirals and participated in an H5N1 vaccine trial and luckily has survived.
Flu experts worry that this human-to-human transmission may cause the virus to mutate, sparking a pandemic which could kill millions worldwide. That worries me, too.
So what about you . . .
Medicine is not always, well, the best medicine. Don't get me wrong, I am all for fixing what ails you, even if it takes a pill but medication can be pricey and have unpleasant side effects. The latest issue of the Harvard Health Letter takes a look at seven common conditions and gives insight on how to manage them without taking medication.
Here are some tips that are useful for everyone:
- Arthritis: There’s a good chance that losing weight will make arthritis less painful. Combine weight loss with exercise and you may have less pain and more mobility. Even for those who don’t need to lose weight, exercise that doesn’t put “load” on the joints reduces pain.
- Cholesterol: Your LDL level may drop by 5% or so if you keep foods high in saturated fat off the menu. Additional soluble fiber may reduce LDL levels as well. So can margarines fortified with sterols.
- Cognitive decline: Memory training and other “brain exercises” seem to help healthy older people stay sharp. But physical exercise may benefit the brain more than mental gymnastics.
There are more suggestions including remedies for depression and osteoporosis so read more
Since things are heating up everywhere these days, I thought it might be the time to tell you to cool down a little bit and play smart. Yep, it is time to fill you in on a fairly common STI (sexually transmitted infection - it not a disease since it is curable), Trichomoniasis. Tricky to say maybe, but not tricky to prevent!
STIs are considered 100% preventable if you abstain from sex, but let's be reasonable here, that seems pretty unlikely. However you and your partner can both get tested for STIs before you have sex, so you both know you are in the clear.
Since trichomoniasis, also known as trich, is transmitted through genital contact, using latex or polyurethane condoms can greatly reduce your risk in contracting the infection. On the other hand, being in a mutually monogamous relationship is an awesome way to keep yourself safe.
While this may not be a pretty subject, it is good to know what is out there so you can make good decisions and hopefully avoid having to deal with the organ and tissue damage trich can cause. In women, if left untreated trich can cause the fallopian tubes to become inflamed and can also potentially damage your cervix. If your man needs some convincing to get tested tell him that in men, prolonged infection of trich can potentially damage the bladder as well as the prostate. Hopefully that caught your attention!