Buy Cigarettes, get a wide range of Cancers free!

Spin the wheel of cancer and choose:

Throat, oral cavity, larynx, esophagus, lung, liver, pancreas, stomach, kidney, bowel, ovary, bladder, cervix or blood?

Do you really want to play this deadly game?

Smoking is the most common habit across the world with extensive use of both types of tobacco (gutka or khaini) or smoking tobacco like bidi or cigarettes. Tobacco smoke is made up of over 5000 plus chemicals, of which at least 70 are known to be cancer causing. Tobacco is also a risk factor for oral cancer, periodontal disease and congenital defects in children whose mothers smoke during pregnancy. Tobacco use may cause many types of cancer including cancer of the lung, larynx, mouth, esophagus, throat, bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas, colon, rectum and cervix. But smoking tobacco is not the only deadliest way to get cancer. People who even chew tobacco are also at an increased risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus and pancreas. With no safe level of tobacco use, it is imperative for people who use any type of tobacco product to quit.

The chemistry and toxicology of cigarette smoke and its effects are clearly understood now. It is proven that the temperature reaches up to 900 degrees Celsius at each cigarette puff. The high temperature constricts the blood flow to mouth mucosa and increases the bacterial breeding causing yellowing of teeth and calcium deficiency. Calcium deficiency also leads to severe bone loss.

There is no proven way to prevent the harmful effects of tobacco whether you smoke or chew it.  Even smoking mild, ultra-mild or low tar cigarettes with or without filters is nowhere better; rather the risk for getting dangerous diseases remains the same. This risk can be reduced only when tobacco in any form is stopped consuming completely. It is the only definite way you can do best for your health. Smoking is not an easy way to quit because nicotine is highly addictive and one may need self-determination and a strong will to quit.

Speak up India

 

In India, we often have this tendency to not go to a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Forget about even seeing a medical expert, it is actually a stigma to talk about mental health issues for the fear of being branded as “demented” or “insane”. This stigma is now unfortunately becoming deadlier each passing day. It is reported that by 2025, 38.1 million in India will be lost due to this horrendous stigmatisation.

The cases of Robin Williams or the recent death of Chester Bennington, is a prime example of how mental disorders remain hidden from even our closed loved ones. The stigmatisation and the feeling of inherent guilt people feel when they come to realise that they might be suffering from something seriously psychological can make people hide their issues. They keep on having a sense of vacuum in themselves or a sense of fear that no one will be able to understand what they are going through. This isolation makes them feel helpless and exacerbates the disease to the point of no return.

Life is an arduous process for everyone. But for people suffering from a mental disorders or diseases, it is an arduous process that they feel they have to undertake in isolation. Thus, one needs to become aware of the symptoms of common mental disorders that affect most people. This can actually help us recognise these symptoms in our loved ones and offer them the crucial support they need. People suffering from such disorders need to be conveyed that they are not alone in this battle.

Symptoms related to mental disorders can actually just look like normal behavioural pattern changes, but a careful analysis can actually help you recognise a difference between a normal change and a serious issue that need our concern.

Depression is a disease and sadness is an emotion. The symptoms can include a significant weight loss or decrease or increase in appetite, along with sleep disturbances, low energy levels and fatigue. Such a depressed individual might experience feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt. An individual might have a difficulty in concentrating and making informed choices. A pensive sad mood and a pattern of talking about death or idolising it to escape problems is a major symptom. People also tend to mask their depression by being overtly happy over normal situations.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disease that a lot of people do not know about. And when they come to know about this disorder, they just confuse with being punctilious about doing one’s job. But, it is evidently more than just paying attention to detail. It is a compulsion to a certain activity and constantly pondering over that activity. Cases like constant hand washing, walking in a certain path or a pattern and cleaning your room constantly and unable to purge that feeling out is one of the common symptoms. An inability to concentrate over important tasks because of one’s compulsions to a certain task is a sign too. People tend to dismiss OCD as a quirky habit that an individual possesses and something that is a part of his or her personality. But OCD traits should never be confused with personality traits of an individual. Serotonin imbalance is a primary cause of OCD and that is a serious issue for an individual suffering from it. Thus, OCD traits should not be looked over. Any attempt to normalise OCD traits stops the person suffering from it to reach out and get help.

Bipolar disorder, is one of the disorders in which extreme moods swings or a depressive manic episode happens over a period of time. Abnormal bursts or extremely low spouts of energy, interchangeably and for no reason justifiable by the person suffering from it, can be a sign of a serious issue.

Schizophrenia and the psychotic spectrum of disorders is one of the mental disorders in which a person has hallucinations, delusions and unwarranted suspicions towards their close family members and sometimes also disorganised speech and thinking. Diagnosis of schizophrenia also does not mean that a person can never be his or her normal self. Proper medication, counseling and support of loved ones can actually bring a reform in person’s diagnosis.

The curtain that continues to cover our society’s silence over mental illnesses and disorders, needs to uplifted. An understanding that mental illnesses is akin to a physical illness and can be treated needs to inculcated at the grassroot levels . But a pertinent understanding of the fact that mental illness is not just a “phase” that one get out of easily is necessary. A comprehensive and an empathetic understanding over the seriousness of mental disorders by the society as a whole can make it easier for a person to get diagnosis and get treated at the earliest.

 

Wash your hands off all ills this Diwali

Brightly lit up roads, guilt-free dessert eating, and a festive vibe all around! What’s not to love about Diwali? The most awaited festival is just around the corner but along with it also comes the stress of cleaning your house to make it Diwali ready. But just a clean house wouldn’t help you get that auspicious and a healthy start to your new year. A pledge to be more careful about your health and inculcating a strong hygiene practice in your kids can actually help you keep yourself and your loved ones safe. But even as adults, we often tend to miss out or ignore the habitual practice of washing one’s hands before eating.

We tend to think that washing hands as adults is inconsequential, but your hands are a birth ground for germs to flourish. It can create an environment for innumerable diseases to spread around you and your loved ones. There are an estimated 1,500 bacteria per square centimetre of skin on your hand.

Washing hands is the best way to prevent bacteria related illnesses and other infectious diseases. As 80% of communicable diseases are transferred by touch, a regular habit of handwashing as a rule can help create a safe environment for you and your loved ones. Introduce a habit of washing hands as mandatory especially before or after these activities:

  • Before eating and cooking

  • After using the bathroom

  • After cleaning around the house

  • After touching animals, including family pets

  • Before and after attending to sick children or other family members.

  • After blowing one's nose, coughing, or sneezing

  • After being outside (playing, gardening, walking the dog, etc.)

  • After smoking

Also, remember to:

  • Cover cuts with bandages and wear gloves for added protection (cuts are very vulnerable to infections).

  • Artificial nails and chipped nail polish have been associated with an increase in the number of bacteria on the fingernails. Be sure to clean the nails properly.

  • Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose or mouth.

  • Assume that contact with any human body fluids is infectious.

  • Liquid soap in disposable containers is best. If using a bar of soap, be sure to set it on a rack that allows water to drain or use small bars that can be changed frequently.

Most bacteria on our hands are on the fingertips and under the nails. It actually doubles in number after using the restroom. Thus, it is especially advisable to wash your hands after using restroom for 20 seconds.

You must not underestimate the power of hand washing! The few seconds you spend at the sink could save you trips to the doctor's clinic.

Why psychological aid is also important for breast cancer

The psychological distress that anyone faces during cancer is insurmountable. And with breast cancer, it becomes even more problematic. First, the element of fear, pre-diagnosis comes into play which causes fear and anxiety into the minds of young women. Post diagnosis, it becomes almost impossible to have an equilibrium and clear thought process. The myths revolving around breast cancer perpetuates stigma and shame causing women to jump into an even deeper pit of the depression well.

It is estimated that mortality rates were as much as 26 times higher in patients with depressive tendencies and 39 times higher in patients who has been diagnosed with major depression issues. This lead us to the conclusion that depression can actually lead to lessening the chances of survival for women who have breast cancer. And it is not just the women who get depressive tendencies but their spouses too. Male spouses, whose partners were diagnosed with breast cancer, were nearly 40 percent more likely to be hospitalised for severe depression. It can also cause create psychological problems for the children too.

Thus, there is a persistent need for women to seek psychological help along with medical help to combat their cancer. Support groups of women with the same stages of cancer and group therapy sessions are the best way to combat depression along with mental health issues.

Psychologists may ask you to deal with one’s negative emotions, they help in focusing on solution and problem solving techniques rather than just simple problems. In addition to just helping your mental well being, psychologists can also help in decreasing the nausea and vomiting and teach women relaxation and meditative exercises.

Cancer needs to be treated with the help of people around you and a positive approach, as hard as it can be. It is upto the people around the person diagnosed with breast cancer to make them feel that there is still HOPE.

Sources: 

  1. All the statistics and facts have been checked from American Psychological Association website.
  2. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/living-as-a-breast-cancer-survivor/emotions-and-breast-cancer.html

Myths regarding Breast Cancer that NEED to be shattered!

Breast cancer ranks as the most prevalent cancer amongst Indian women. Yet, Indian women are still unaware of it with the mortality rate due to this disease increasing day by day. 1 And since prevention is better than cure, it is time to understand that breast cancer can happen to anyone; irrespective of what you do and whether you have a family history of breast cancer or not.

The best way to get aware about breast cancer is to have a self-test every month to check for any lumps or swelling to skin changes. For women above 40, it is best to get a mammogram test done annually for identifying a type of breast cancer that may have no obvious symptoms at  all.

The actual process of diagnosis can take weeks and involve many different kinds of tests but it is better to be safe than sorry. Nonetheless, if you do feel any lumps or swelling to skin, that DOES NOT necessarily mean that you have cancer.

Which brings us to the 5 MAJOR myths of Breast Cancer that one need to bust about breast cancer:

1) Myth: Having dairy product causes breast cancer.

The Truth:

Several myths persist about the correlation between dairy intake and the increased risk of breast cancer.  Over many decades, studies have shown that dairy consumption does not increase the risk of breast cancer.  For more information about these studies, please visit:

https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/31/1/78/655928/Meat-and-dairy-food-consumption-and-breast-cancer.

2) Myth: Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer.

The Truth:

Only a persistent lump in your breast or noticeable changes in breast tissue may be suggestive of breast cancer. Such signs should never be ignored. Finding a lump in breast is very common and mostly they are benign, but still it’s important to get it checked. 

3) Myth: Men do not get breast cancer.

The Truth:

While the percentage of men getting breast cancer is still small, men should also self check themselves while they are in shower. Men carry a higher mortality rate and are less likely to assume a lump is a breast cancer and thus it is pertinent that we bust this myth. 

4) Myth: A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread.

The Truth:

According to the National Cancer Institute, “The benefits of mammography, however, nearly always outweigh the potential harm from the radiation exposure. Mammograms require very small doses of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation exposure is extremely low.”So get an annual mammogram test when you cross the age of 40.

5) Myth: Deodorants cause breast cancer.

The Truth:

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are still not aware of any conclusive evidence that can link the growth of cancer cells to the usage of deodorants.

Sources:

  1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ajco.12661/full
  2. International Journal of Epidemiology:
    https://academic.oup.com/ije/article/31/1/78/655928/Meat-and-dairy-food-consumption-and-breast-cancer
  3. All the data has been checked from www.nationalbreastcancer.org and www.cancer.org

Why busting stress is important for a healthy heart!

The heart wants what it wants. Or to be more precise, the heart wants what you want to give it. Unnecessary stress is the one of the reasons of heart attacks and it actually accentuates the other factors associated with heart diseases. Smoking, physical inactivity and overeating can lead to high blood pressure and cholesterol which can eventually lead to heart attack. But these things increase when a person is stressed or his or her anxiety levels are above par.

According to a research published in The lancet1 and published in major newspapers like The Telegraph2, the brain’s amygdala (an area of the brain that deals with stress) signals to the bone marrow to produce extra white blood cells when one is stressed. This results in arteries to become inflamed and inflammation of the heart is one of the sole reasons for heart attacks, angina and strokes. People who were more stressed had much more activity involved in the amygdala. In another small study, the researchers again found that due to increased bone marrow activity and arterial inflammation caused due to stress, people were getting prone to heart related disease.

Emily Reeve, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, in fact mentions how the brain’s management of stress will help cardiologists understand the combination of heart diseases with other psychological stresses.

Effective ways to reduce stress can be through various exercises. Yoga styles like Ashtanga and Bikram can offer cardiovascular benefits, as your heart rate is elevated throughout the class. Circuit training exercises can help in stretching the arteries and improves the elasticity for better cardiovascular fitness. High intensive exercises like weight lifting and lane swimming can help in increasing our cardiovascular aptitude. But even a 30-minute job in the park and a proper diet can help you keep your heart fit.

For a stress-free lifestyle, an 8-hour sleep and drinking adequate water is essential but indulging in a hobby or a craft and being open about how you feel can help you have a burden less lifestyle and is actually a great way to keep your heart healthy.

 Sources:

  1. http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)31714-7/fulltext
  2. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/01/11/scientists-finally-discover-stress-causes-heart-attacks-strokes/
  3. http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/heart-health/the-6-best-exercises-for-heart-health/3/

Alzheimer’s: How creative mediums can help

Often number of times, we associate Alzheimer’s with just the element of senility. And even with old age, it is just considered as a natural process or as a part of growing old.

It is not.

Alzheimer’s causes problems with memory, thinking and behaviour. But it is much more than that. In the early stage, dementia symptoms may be minimal, but as the disease causes more damage to the brain and the symptoms worsen over a time period, it becomes too late to control the disease in its later stages.

Stages:

  • The first stage, sparse signs of forgetfulness as well in thinking and planning start to show. Generally, this is NOT the phase where people get diagnosed.

  • In the second stage, individuals may experience changes in personality and behaviour and now have trouble recognizing friends and family members. They also have an acute problem in understanding speech and even speaking and one is more prone to get lost on a street. This the phase where people where are diagnosed.

  • In the third stage, individuals lose the ability to communicate completely. They are unable to discern or identify the objects around them as well as loved ones and family members.

    Art as a Medium of Communication:

          

The epidemic that is Alzheimer’s continues to increase and span across the globe. It is estimated that by the year 2020, approximately 70% of the world’s population aged 60 and above will be living in developing countries, with 14.2% in India.

What we as individuals can do is understand that Alzheimer’s, though incurable as of now, can happen to anyone irrespective of their age, and can be managed through a proper understanding of the disease by the loved ones of the diagnosed. For communication process when the diagnosed person loses the ability to communicate, mediums of art can be used for the patients to communicate. The American artist, William Utermohlen started drawing self-portraits when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Prodded by his nurse, she wanted him to communicate through art and as his disease deteriorated, one can see how what he was trying to communicate.

In the later stages, he felt that he was trapped in a black box. Judy Holstein, a drama therapist with almost two decades of experience working with Alzheimer’s and other patients in Chicago also spoke of how art—a painting, drawing, or piece of music—can be used as a stimulus to work with patients’ memories.

Since the verbal part of the brain is more affected than the visual and the creative part, it makes sense to communicate through art.

As researchers continue to search for ways to better treat Alzheimer’s and other progressive dementias, there is a definite need to spread awareness and education regarding this illness in India. Treatment of other co-existing diseases and following proper advice from a doctor which can help in managing the behavioural changes associated with Alzheimer, is an absolute must.

The relationship between brain activity and creativity is still little understood, and yet with the ever-changing scientific discoveries year after year, it might just help in managing Alzheimer’s diseases. In the short-term, as a therapeutic activity, art and music can help people suffering from this disease to not just be in complete frustration on how to communicate with their loved ones.

Sources & Info:
 
For more information on how to manage AD, please visit:
 
#1. World Health Organization. Fact Sheet No 135. Geneva: World Health Organization; 1998. Population Ageing – A Public Health Challenge.