The BIG Health Tip of the Year – It Can Possibly Save Your Life

My patients often tell me that looking after one’s health is complex. With symptoms, risks, diagnoses and treatments to think about, it is often difficult to keep track of the information that directly affects your well-being. Fortunately, not all health advice needs to be complicated. Often, one change in lifestyle can have big benefits to the way you feel and to your quality of life. By far, the most important and simple advice for improving your health today is quit smoking.

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 45 million Americans smoke. That translates to 24% of men and 18% of women. It stands to reason that virtually every smoker in this country is aware that smoking is bad for health. Warnings are printed on cigarette cartons and campaigns to help people quit are up and running. My concern as a physician, however, is that smokers are not always aware of the specific negative effects of smoking. Let’s take a look at these ill effects, which research has proven many times over.

Smoking and Cancer

Overall, tobacco use is responsible for 1 in 5 deaths in the United States. One of the chief causes of smoking-related deaths is lung cancer. This form of cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for both men and women. Lung cancer death is linked to smoking a majority of the time-90% of lung cancer deaths in men and 80% in women are the result of smoking.

Lung cancer is highly preventable, but if people continue smoking the outlook is not good. In the past year, 215,000 new cases of lung cancer were diagnosed and 162,000 deaths due to the disease were reported (In most cases, people who died were diagnosed in previous years).

Cigarette smoke is a carcinogen, or a cancer-causing agent. Putting this toxic substance into the body is a major cause of not only lung, but throat, bladder, mouth, larynx (voice box) and esophageal cancers. It is linked to cancer of the pancreas, cervix, kidneys and stomach, as well as some types of leukemia. Overall, smoking accounts for 30% of all cancer deaths.

Smoking and Heart Disease

Cigarette smokers are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop coronary heart disease than non-smokers. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. If everyone quit smoking today, I think this sobering statistic could change. Smoking reduces circulation by narrowing blood vessels and arteries, leading to peripheral vascular disease. Smoking also doubles a person’s risk for stroke.

Reproductive and Other Effects

Most people know that pregnant women should not smoke. It is linked to risk for premature delivery and infant death. Many women, however, are not aware that smoking may also impact the ability to conceive. Evidence shows that women who smoke have more difficulty getting pregnant. They also may shorten their reproductive years, as smoking can lead to early menopause. If a smoker does become pregnant, her baby is at greater risk for stillbirth and low birth weight.

The problems with smoking for women do not end with pregnancy. One great concern for women as they age is osteoporosis and low bone density. Postmenopausal women who smoke have a greater risk for hip fracture than those who never smoked.

Healthy Answers To Help You Quit Smoking!

It is not easy to quit smoking. Most people know they should quit and have often tried many times to do so. Here is my best advice: keep trying! There are many methods, from nicotine gum to group meetings that offer support to would-be quitters. Talk to your doctor about quitting and research these methods on your own. I hope that learning about the negative effects of smoking will drive you to action today.

There are plenty of changes you can make right now get started on your journey to becoming cigarette-free. The American Heart Association has put together an excellent list of tips that I share with my own patients:

-Keep busy doing things that make it hard to smoke, like working in the yard, washing dishes and being more active.
-Fight the urge by going to places where smoking isn’t allowed and staying around people who don’t smoke.
-Avoid situations that tempt you to smoke, like drinking coffee or alcohol.
-Find a substitute to reach for instead of a cigarette. Try a hard candy.
-Don’t give up if you smoke a cigarette. Just resolve not to do it again.
-Remind yourself that you’re likely to feel better if you stop smoking.
-Tell family members and friends that you need to quit smoking and need their support. If your husband, wife, son or daughter smokes, ask them to quit with you.

Make 2009 the year you kick the smoking habit for good. Here’s to your health!

Top Health Tips For Women Made In 2013

A shocking study from this year has also revealed that the cost of birth control in Florida varied considerably. In less wealthy areas, it was found that the cost of prescription contraceptives were more expensive compared to the same product in wealthier zip code areas. The research has raised concern for those in need of the drugs but are struggling financially.

In March of this year, the United Nations shared research that states that by 2015, approximately 233 million women will still be unable to access modern forms of contraception. With contraception being such an essential tool in preventing unwanted pregnancies, it allows women to decide on their desired family size. Contraception is also key in reducing the number of women dying in both pregnancy and childbirth especially as it’s a very cost effective method of intervention.

An American study has also found that women could in fact slash their chances of having a heart attack by up to 32% by simply eating 3 servings of either strawberries or blueberries each week. It’s thought that this could be due to the effect of the flavonoids contained within the fruits which prevents a build-up of plaque in the arteries, which is great news for wine drinkers as its thought the same result is achieved.

2013 has also revealed the results of a lengthy study carried out during 1996-2008 that was trying to establish whether or not there is a link between depression in women and the consumption of inflammation-spurring foods. The study excluded any women already suffering from the condition. The results showed that women who regularly ate foods such as pasta and red meat, were in fact more prone to developing depression.

Across the pond, comprehensive research has been done by the Environmental Protection Agency to assess the current levels of mercury in women’s blood. As women are now more aware of the health risks associated with consuming high levels of mercury, its thought that women are now thinking more carefully about the types of fish they eat. Mercury has been linked to both kidney and neurological problems.

At the latest annual meeting for the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, new information was announced claiming a possible link between a lack of sleep and a woman’s ability to conceive. It suggests that women who work irregular shifts could be put at a higher risk of not conceiving whilst those who work during the night increase their chances of mis-carrying. The reason behind this thinking is that interrupted sleep could be affecting their internal clock, so in order to maximise fertility, a woman should aim to get between 7-8 hours’ sleep each night.

There’s been some good news though for cancer survivors, as a recent study has shown that two-thirds of women who have survived cancer before the age of 21 were able to successfully go on to have a child. The statistics were taken after 3,500 18-39 year old sexually-active women were looked at, which revealed these promising results.

This year, preliminary findings into a baby’s brain development has suggested that getting the normal 20 minutes of moderate exercise 3 times a week could help. Researchers are still to make definitive findings but it’s thought that regular exercise helps to boost a baby’s all round development.

New findings by researchers at Duke’s University has suggested that women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in its early stages could have a better chance of survival if they opt for a lumpectomy and radiation instead of a mastectomy. In recent times many women have been opting for mastectomies for psychological reasons instead of medical, however, more research still needs to be done.

The US Preventative Services Task force changed its guidelines several years ago surrounding the age at which women should receive routine mammograms. Despite the organisation deciding this, women between the ages of 40-49 are still going for the test with numbers slightly increasing. The results are a good indication that women are taking their health seriously.

This year the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology revealed the results of its study into post-pubescent women’s increased chances of developing food allergies, asthma and rhinitis. They believe women are more likely than men to develop certain conditions as a result of both genetics and sex hormones.

The final big health story for women this year involves a bra, or rather why you shouldn’t wear one. Although almost all women wear a one on a daily, research suggests they may not be beneficial. By not wearing a bra, a woman doesn’t develop her body’s natural tissue which supports the breasts. So not wearing a bra is not only more comfortable, but also better for you too!