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Thursday, 19 January 2012

Home Remedies for Acne

Beauty is a dream of all girls. There are a lot of people, of all ages, that find themselves suffering from acne. This can be a very discouraging thing for people, especially when they have always believed that acne is something that always affects teenagers and never the adults. The fact of the matter is that some adults will never “grow out of” acne. Their acne problems might change, becoming more or less severe. This is not something to get too worked up over, as it is a natural thing that a lot of people have to deal with. Luckily for you, there are treatments that you can take advantage of that will be able to give you all of the help that you need. There are treatments that come from the doctors, from the local drug stores and then t here are the natural remedies for acne that you can put together all on your own from home.

Almost 85 percent of people have acne at some point in their life, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. If you've tried everything the doctor has ordered -- but nothing has worked -- why not try some acne clearing remedies right in your own home?!

Here are 11 Home Remedies to Get Rid of Acne.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera gel has been used for centuries to heal burns, damaged skin, and for digestive and intestinal problems. It has proven to accelerate healing because it is filled with aloe polysaccharides which are the naturally occurring active components that promote absorption, digestive health, immune qualities, anti-inflammatory, and overall health benefits.

Simply breaking an aloe vera leaf and applying a watery gel to the affected areas will help heal the the damage caused by your acne and lesson any redness or swelling. Aloe taken internally (by capsule) is also effective in treating acne.

Sandalwood Paste
Sandalwood is a popular skin care natural remedy used in India. The antimicrobial properties of sandalwood, is what gives it its skin healing power. Application of sandalwood paste will leave your face glowing, and clear. Aside from protecting the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun, this powder also leaves the skin clean, germ-free and moisturized.

Bonus: Sandalwood's healing powers also include the ability to calm the nervous system -- alleviating stress and anxiety.


Unlike lemons and vinegar, cucumbers don't dry your face, quite the opposite, it moisturizes your skin and supplies it with vitamins. Use a cucumber mask twice a week and see definite improvements to your skin condition. This mask will also serve as an effective acne prevention cream.

Rose Water

Rose water is a well-known skin tonic, made from rose petals, and has been used as a toner and facial cleanser. It is comprised of hundreds of components which help stimulate blood circulation in blood vessels underlying the skin, thereby reducing scars, sunburns, thread veins, aging skin and other skin conditions. For best results use rose water to take off your make-up in the evenings.

Bonus: A rose water bath will help get rid of allergic rashes and skin inflammations.


Strawberries are a natural source of salicylic acid, which is one of the most common ingredients used in acne treatment products. Strawberries also contain antioxidants and various vitamins which will help to repair acne scars. The strawberry can be applied directly onto the infected area or you can make a face mask using strawberries mashed with cream. Leave on for about 20 minutes before washing off with water.


Garlic is believed to cure acne because its antibacterial or antiseptic properties kill those bacteria which are responsible for acne. Anti-inflammatory properties of this herb also stop the inflammatory process of acne, reducing redness.

Egg Whites

Eggs are not just a breakfast food! Egg whites are chock-full of vitamins that can be beneficial for clearing acne by helping to reduce your oily skin and tighten your pores. Apply an egg white and watch the eggs draw oil and dirt from your skin over night!

Potato Juice

The juice from raw potatoes helps to cure skin blemishes and clear acne scars due to their high concentration of potassium, chlorine, sulfur and phosphorous. Be sure to use only raw potatoes as they only contain live organic atoms.

Rubbing raw potato slices on affected acne areas is also an effective method of treatment.

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil has great value in helping the skin heal itself, stimulating cell growth, reducing inflammation, preventing scarring and balancing the production of oil. Lavender oil also cuts down on localized pain and has therapeutic effects on the skin.

Lemons and Oranges

Lemon and orange peels contain citric acid which inhibits the growth of the bacteria, therefore exacerbating acne. Orange peels can be applied to the acne area either by rubbing as a peel or by crushing the peel with water and mixing with gram flour and using as a face scrub. Lemon juice contains vitamin C which acts as an astringent that help to dry pimples. Also, by drinking lemon juice, you will gently flush the toxins out of your body which will help reduce the acne.


An oatmeal skin mask will help remove excess oils and dirt from your skin, working to reduce redness and inflammation caused by acne.

How to? Mix together oatmeal with a little water and honey to form a sticky paste that can be applied to the face as a mask and left on for about 20 minutes. Wash off with water.

AIDS Tests


AIDS tests, short for acquired immunodeficiency syndrome tests, cover a number of different procedures used in the diagnosis and treatment of HIV patients. These tests are sometimes called AIDS serology tests. Serology is the branch of immunology that deals with the contents and characteristics of blood serum. Serum is the clear light yellow part of blood that remains liquid when blood cells form a clot. AIDS serology evaluates the presence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in blood serum and its effects on each patient's immune system.


AIDS serology serves several different purposes. Some AIDS tests are used to diagnose patients or confirm a diagnosis; others are used to measure the progression of the disease or the effectiveness of specific treatment regimens. Some AIDS tests can also be used to screen blood donations for safe use in transfusions.

In order to understand the different purposes of the blood tests used with AIDS patients, it is helpful to understand how HIV infection affects human blood and the immune system. HIV is a retrovirus that enters the blood stream of a new host in the following ways:

  •     by sexual contact
  •     by contact with infected body fluids (such as blood and urine)
  •     by transmission during pregnancy,or
  •     through transfusion of infected blood products

A retrovirus is a virus that contains a unique enzyme called reverse transcriptase that allows it to replicate within new host cells. The virus binds to a protein called CD4, which is found on the surface of certain subtypes of white blood cells, including helper T cells, macrophages, and monocytes. Once HIV enters the cell, it can replicate and kill the cell in ways that are still not completely understood. In addition to killing some lymphocytes directly, the AIDS virus disrupts the functioning of the remaining CD4 cells. CD4 cells ordinarily produce a substance called interleukin-2 (IL-2), which stimulates other cells (T cells and B cells) in the human immune system to respond to infections. Without the IL-2, T cells do not reproduce as they normally would in response to the HIV virus, and B cells are not stimulated to respond to the infection.

In some states such as New York, a signed consent form is needed in order to administer an AIDS test. As with all blood tests, healthcare professionals should always wear latex gloves and to avoid being pricked by the needle used in drawing blood for the tests. Also, it may be difficult to get blood from a habitual intravenous drug user due to collapsed veins.

Diagnostic tests

Diagnostic blood tests for AIDS are usually given to persons in high-risk populations who may have been exposed to HIV or who have the early symptoms of AIDS. Most persons infected with HIV will develop a detectable level of antibody within three months of infection. The condition of testing positive for HIV antibody in the blood is called seroconversion, and persons who have become HIV-positive are called seroconverters.

It is possible to diagnose HIV infection by isolating the virus itself from a blood sample or by demonstrating the presence of HIV antigen in the blood. Viral culture, however, is expensive, not widely available, and slow—it takes 28 days to complete the viral culture test. More common are blood tests that work by detecting the presence of antibodies to the HIV virus. These tests are inexpensive, widely available, and accurate in detecting 99.9% of AIDS infections when used in combination to screen patients and confirm diagnoses.

ENZYME-LINKED IMMUNOSORBENT ASSAY (ELISA). This type of blood test is used to screen blood for transfusions as well as diagnose patients. An ELISA test for HIV works by attaching HIV antigens to a plastic well or beads. A sample of the patient's blood serum is added, and excess proteins are removed. A second antibody coupled to an enzyme is added, followed by addition of a substance that will cause the enzyme to react by forming a color. An instrument called a spectrophotometer can measure the color. The name of the test is derived from the use of the enzyme that is coupled or linked to the second antibody.

The latest generation of ELISA tests are 99.5% sensitive to HIV. Occasionally, the ELISA test will be positive for a patient without symptoms of AIDS from a lowrisk group. Because this result is likely to be a false-positive, the ELISA must be repeated on the same sample of the patient's blood. If the second ELISA is positive, the result should be confirmed by the Western blot test.

WESTERN BLOT (IMMUNOBLOT). The Western blot or immunoblot test is used as a reference procedure to confirm the diagnosis of AIDS. In Western blot testing, HIV antigen is purified by electrophoresis (large protein molecules are suspended in a gel and separated from one another by running an electric current through the gel). The HIV antigens are attached by blotting to a nylon or nitrocellulose filter. The patient's serum is reacted against the filter, followed by treatment with developing chemicals that allow HIV antibody to show up as a colored patch or blot. A commercially produced Western blot test for HIV-1 is now available. It consists of a prefabricated strip that is incubated with a sample of the patient's blood serum and the developing chemicals. About nine different HIV-1 proteins can be detected in the blots.

When used in combination with ELISA testing, Western blot testing is 99.9% specific. It can, however, yield false negatives in patients with very early HIV infection and in those infected by HIV-2. In some patients the Western blot yields indeterminate results.

IMMUNOFLUORESCENCE ASSAY (IFA). This method is sometimes used to confirm ELISA results instead of Western blotting. An IFA test detects the presence of HIV antibody in a sample of the patient's serum by mixing HIV antigen with a fluorescent chemical, adding the blood sample, and observing the reaction under a microscope with ultraviolet light.

POLYMERASE CHAIN REACTION (PCR). This test is used to evaluate the very small number of AIDS patients with false-negative ELISA and Western blot tests. These patients are sometimes called antibody-negative asymptomatic (without symptoms) carriers, because they do not have any symptoms of AIDS and there is no detectable quantity of antibody in the blood serum. Antibody-negative asymptomatic carriers may be responsible for the very low ongoing risk of HIV infection transmitted by blood transfusions. It is estimated that the risk is between 1 in 10,000 and 1 in 100,000 units of transfused blood.

The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test can measure the presence of viral nucleic acids in the patient's blood even when there is no detectable antibody to HIV. This test works by amplifying the presence of HIV nucleic acids in a blood sample. Numerous copies of a gene are made by separating the two strands of DNA containing the gene segment, marking its location, using DNA polymerase to make a copy, and then continuously replicating the copies. It is questionable whether PCR will replace Western blotting as the method of confirming AIDS diagnoses. Although PCR can detect the low number of persons (1%) with HIV infections that have not yet generated an antibody response to the virus, the overwhelming majority of infected persons will be detected by ELISA screening within one to three months of infection. In addition, PCR testing is based on present knowledge of the genetic sequences in HIV. Since the virus is continually generating new variants, PCR testing could yield a false negative in patients with these new variants.

In 1999, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an HIV home testing kit. The kit contains multiple components, including material for specimen collection, a mailing envelope to send the specimen to a laboratory for analysis, and provides preand post-test counseling. It uses a finger prick process for blood collection. The results are obtained by the purchaser through a toll free telephone number using a personal identification number (PIN). Post test counseling is provided over the telephone by a licensed counselor. The only kit approved by the FDA as of 2001 was the Home Access test system.

Prognostic tests

Blood tests to evaluate patients already diagnosed with HIV infection are as important as the diagnostic tests. Because AIDS has a long latency period, some persons may be infected with the virus for 10 years or longer before they develop symptoms of AIDS. These patients are sometimes called antibody-positive asymptomatic carriers. Prognostic tests also help drug researchers evaluate the usefulness of new medications in treating AIDS.

BLOOD CELL COUNTS. Doctors can measure the number or proportion of certain types of cells in an AIDS patient's blood to see whether and how rapidly the disease is progressing, or whether certain treatments are helping the patient. These cell count tests include:

    Complete blood count (CBC). A CBC is a routine analysis performed on a sample of blood taken from the patient's vein with a needle and vacuum tube. The measurements taken in a CBC include a white blood cell count (WBC), a red blood cell count (RBC), the red cell distribution width, the hematocrit (ratio of the volume of the red blood cells to the blood volume), and the amount of hemoglobin (the blood protein that carries oxygen). Although CBCs are used on more than just AIDS patients, they can help the doctor determine if an AIDS patient has an advanced form of the disease. Specific AIDS-related signs in a CBC include a low hematocrit, a sharp decrease in the number of blood platelets, and a low level of a certain type of white blood cell called neutrophils.

    Absolute CD4+ lymphocytes. A lymphocyte is a type of white blood cell that is important in the formation of an immune response. Because HIV targets CD4+ lymphocytes, their number in the patient's blood can be used to track the course of the infection. This blood cell count is considered the most accurate indicator for the presence of an opportunistic infection in an AIDS patient. The absolute CD4+ lymphocyte count is obtained by multiplying the patient's white blood cell count (WBC) by the percentage of lymphocytes among the white blood cells, and multiplying the result by the percentage of lymphocytes bearing the CD4+ marker. An absolute count below 200-300 CD+4 lymphocytes in 1 cubic millimeter (mm3) of blood indicates that the patient is vulnerable to some opportunistic infections.

    CD4+ lymphocyte percentage. Some doctors think that this is a more accurate test than the absolute count because the percentage does not depend on a manual calculation of the number of types of different white blood cells. A white blood cell count that is broken down into categories in this way is called a WBC differential.

It is important for doctors treating AIDS patients to measure the lymphocyte count on a regular basis. Experts consulted by the United States Public Health Service recommend the following frequency of serum testing based on the patient's CD4+ level:

    CD4+ count more than 600 cells/mm3: Every six months.
    CD4+ count between 200-600 cells/mm3: Every three months.
    CD4+ count less than 200 cells/mm3: Every three months.

When the CD4+ count falls below 200 cells/mm3, the doctor will put the patient on a medication regimen to protect him or her against opportunistic infections.

HIV VIRAL LOAD TESTS. Another type of blood test for monitoring AIDS patients is the viral load test. It supplements the CD4+ count, which can tell the doctor the extent of the patient's loss of immune function, but not the speed of HIV replication in the body. The viral load test is based on PCR techniques and can measure the number of copies of HIV nucleic acids. Successive test results for a given patient's viral load are calculated on a base 10 logarithmic scale.

BETA 2 -MICROGLOBULIN (β2 M). Beta2-microglobulin is a protein found on the surface of all human cells with a nucleus. It is released into the blood when a cell dies. Although rising blood levels of β2M are found in patients with cancer and other serious diseases, a rising β2M blood level can be used to measure the progression of AIDS.

P24 ANTIGEN CAPTURE ASSAY. Found in the viral core of HIV, p24 is a protein that can be measured by the ELISA technique. Doctors can use p24 assays to measure the antiviral activity of the patient's medications. In addition, the p24 assay is sometimes useful in detecting HIV infection before seroconversion. However, p24 is consistently present in only 25% of persons infected with HIV.

GENOTYPIC DRUG RESISTANCE TEST. Genotypic testing can help determine whether specific gene mutations, common in people with HIV, are causing drug resistance and drug failure. The test looks for specific genetic mutations of within the virus that are known to cause resistance to certain drugs used in HIV treatment. For example the drug 3TC, also known as lamivudine (Epivir), is not effective against strains of HIV that have a mutation at a particular position on the reverse transcriptase protein—amino acid 184—known as M184V (M V, methionine to valine). So if the genotypic resistance test shows a mutation at position M184V, it is likely that person is resistant to 3TC and not likely to respond to 3TC treatment. Genotypic tests are only effective if the person is already taking antiviral medication and if the viral load is greater than 1,000 copies per milliliter (mL) of blood. The cost of the test, usually between $300 and $500, is usually now covered by many insurance plans.

PHENOTYPIC DRUG RESISTANCE TESTING. Phenotypic testing directly measures the sensitivity of a patient's HIV to particular drugs and drug combinations. To do this, it measures the concentration of a drug required to inhibit viral replication in the test tube. This is the same method used by researchers to determine whether a drug might be effective against HIV before using it in human clinical trials. Phenotypic testing is a more direct measurement of resistance than genotypic testing. Also, unlike genotypic testing, phenotypic testing does not require a high viral load but it is recommended that persons already be taking antiretroviral drugs. The cost is between $700 and $900 and is now covered by many insurance plans.

AIDS serology in children

Children born to HIV-infected mothers may acquire the infection through the mother's placenta or during the birth process. Public health experts recommend the testing and monitoring of all children born to mothers with HIV. Diagnostic testing in children older than 18 months is similar to adult testing, with ELISA screening confirmed by Western blot. Younger infants can be diagnosed by direct culture of the HIV virus, PCR testing, and p24 antigen testing. These techniques allow a pediatrician to identify 50% of infected children at or near birth, and 95% of cases in infants three to six months of age.


Preparation and aftercare are important parts of AIDS diagnostic testing. Doctors are now advised to take the patient's emotional, social, economic, and other circumstances into account and to provide counseling before and after testing. Patients are generally better able to cope with the results if the doctor has spent some time with them before the blood test explaining the basic facts about HIV infection and testing. Many doctors now offer this type of informational counseling before performing the tests.


If the test results indicate that the patient is HIV-positive, he or she will need counseling, information, referral for treatment, and support. Doctors can either counsel the patient themselves or invite an experienced HIV counselor to discuss the results of the blood tests with the patient. They will also assess the patient's emotional and psychological status, including the possibility of violent behavior and the availability of a support network.

The risks of AIDS testing are primarily related to disclosure of the patient's HIV status rather than to any physical risks connected with blood testing. Some patients are better prepared to cope with a positive diagnosis than others, depending on their age, sex, health, resources, belief system, and similar factors.

Normal results

Normal results for ELISA, Western blot, IFA, and PCR testing are negative for HIV antibody.

Normal results for blood cell counts:

    WBC differential: Total lymphocytes 24-44% of the white blood cells.
    Hematocrit: 40-54% in men; 37-47% in women.
    T cell lymphocytes: 644-2200/mm3, 60-88% of all lymphocytes.
    B cell lymphocytes: 82-392/mm3, 3-20% of all lymphocytes.
    CD4+ lymphocytes: 500-1200/mm3, 34-67% of all lymphocytes.

Abnormal results

The following results in AIDS tests indicate progression of the disease:

    Percentage of CD4+ lymphocytes: less than 20% of all lymphocytes.
    CD4+ lymphocyte count: less than 200 cells/mm3.
    Viral load test: Levels more than 5000 copies/mL.
    -2-microglobulin: Levels more than 3.5 mg/dL.
    P24 antigen: Measurable amounts in blood serum.


Avrameas, Stratis, and Therese Ternynck. "Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)." In Encyclopedia of Immunology. Vol. 1. Ed. Ivan M. Roitt and Peter J. Delves. London: Academic Press, 1992.

Bennett, Rebecca, and Erin, Charles A. (Editors). HIV and AIDS Testing, Screening, and Confidentiality: Ethics, Law, and Social Policy. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Early HIV Infection Guideline Panel. Evaluation and Management of Early HIV Infection. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, 1994.

Huber, Jeffrey T. Dictionary of AIDS-Related Terminology. New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers, Inc., 1993.

"Infectious Diseases: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)." In Neonatology: Management, Procedures, On-Call Problems, Diseases and Drugs. Ed. Tricia Lacy Gomella et al. Norwalk, CT: Appleton & Lange, 1994.

Katz, Mitchell H., and Harry Hollander. "HIV Infection." In Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment. Ed. Lawrence M. Tierney et al. Stamford, CT: Appleton & Lange, 1998.

McClure, Myra. "Human Immunodeficiency Viruses." In Encyclopedia of Immunology. Vol. 2. Ed. by Ivan M. Roitt and Peter J. Delves. London: Academic Press, 1992.

McFarland, Elizabeth J. "Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Infections: Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)." In Current Pediatric Diagnosis & Treatment. Ed. William W. Hay et al. Stamford, CT: Appleton & Lange, 1997.

So, Peter, and Livette Johnson. "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)." In Conn's Current Therapy. Ed. Robert E. Rakel. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders Company, 1997.

Springhouse Publishing. Handbook of Diagnostic Tests. Springhouse, PA: Springhouse Publishing Co., 1999.

Towbin, Harry. "Western Blotting." In Encyclopedia of Immunology. Vol. 3. Ed. Ivan M. Roitt and Peter J. Delves. London: Academic Press, 1992.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Which Vitamins Do You Really Need?

Vitamins and minerals are essential to any diet, and research suggests they may help prevent cancer and heart disease, not to mention other health problems. But reality check: Many studies have been conducted on vitamin-containing food, but not necessarily supplements.

In fact, if you eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fortified food, you're probably getting all you need. But supplements do offer an easy, just-in-case form of health insurance.

Do you need them? Here's a quick guide to beneficial nutrients and what they can do for you.


Found in carrots, sweet potatoes, and green peppers, among other foods, this antioxidant is converted in the body to vitamin A and is important for healthy vision, a functioning immune system, and good skin. But the evidence isn't really there to recommend it for staving off cancer. In fact, a 2004 study found that supplements may actually raise the risk of lung cancer in smokers.

Bottom line: Skip the supplements if you're a smoker, and try to get your beta-carotene from fruits and veggies, whether you smoke or not.


Our bodies need calcium—mostly found in dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese—to maintain healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis.

Bottom line: Supplements aren't a bad idea if you hate dairy (and can eat only so much kale and canned sardines), but you may want to skip them if you're prone to kidney stones or are a female over 70. A 2010 report linked supplements to heart-attack risk in older postmenopausal women. If you decide to go with supplements, don't take more than 500 milligrams at a time, and pair them with vitamin D to improve calcium absorption.

Folic acid

Folic acid, which prevents neural tube defects such as spina bifida in babies, is found in fortified breakfast cereal, dark green vegetables, legumes, citrus fruit juice, bread, and pasta.

Bottom line: Getting 400 micrograms a day of this B vitamin, and 600 if you are pregnant or lactating, is a no-brainer. That amount should come from food, supplements, or both, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The jury's still out as to whether folate combats cancer, heart disease, or mental illness.


You may not love the foods highest in iron (liver and other organ meats), but the mineral is critical for the proper functioning of red blood cells and, therefore, the prevention of anemia.

Bottom line: Try to get iron from dietary sources, which also include lean meats, seafood, nuts, and green, leafy vegetables. However, you may need a supplement if you're anemic, or your doctor might prescribe them before surgery, says Jessica Anderson, a registered dietitian with the Coastal Bend Health Education Center, at the Texas A&M Health Science Center, in Corpus Christi. Women, especially those who are pregnant or menstruating, might also benefit.


There is limited evidence that multivitamins may help prevent breast cancer, and an NIH panel in 2006 wasn't convinced that popping the pills was worth it. Neither is the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which said the only benefit could be to reduce cancer risk in people with poor nutrition. And a large 2009 study failed to find any beneficial effects of the vitamins for cancer or deaths among postmenopausal women.

Bottom line: Multivitamins aren't a bad idea if "you're on the go," Anderson says. "But don't expect major lifesaving benefits."


Potassium can lower blood pressure, even out irregular heart rhythms, and counteract the effects of too much sodium. It's found in bananas, raisins, leafy greens, oranges, and milk.

Bottom line: Consider a supplement if you're taking potassium-depleting diuretics for a heart condition, or if you're African American, a group that's at higher risk for hypertension and heart disease. Keep in mind that too much potassium can be harmful to older people and people with kidney disease.


The body needs only small amounts of this antioxidant, found in meats, seafood, eggs, and bread. A study found that taking 200 micrograms daily reduced the risk of prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers, but other studies have been "complete flops," Anderson says. That includes a 2011 analysis.

Bottom line: Don't count on selenium to lower your chances of getting or dying from cancer. It's likely you're getting enough from food sources, anyway.

Vitamin E

This much-touted cure-all, found in citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, and green peppers, just doesn't make the grade when it comes to common-cold prevention. One study did suggest that taking vitamin C regularly might reduce the length of a cold by a day.

Bottom line: Try to get enough vitamin C through your diet. It's fine to take a supplement, especially if you're a smoker or nonsmoker who is often exposed to secondhand smoke. But there seems to be little point in upping your intake to combat sniffling and coughing.

 Vitamin D
 Vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium, is necessary for bone health. It's mostly accessible through sun exposure, not food. Too little vitamin D can contribute to osteoporosis and rickets in children. Some evidence suggests that the vitamin may reduce the risk of type 1 and 2 diabetes and multiple sclerosis, but the jury's still out on these benefits.

Bottom line: Even though very little sun is needed to get your quota of vitamin D, and some foods are fortified with it, deficiencies aren't unusual. Supplements might be a good idea, especially if you don't have much sun exposure, are over 50, or have dark skin.

Vitamin E

Once upon a time, researchers thought this antioxidant could protect the heart, but a large trial published in 2005 found that 600 international units (IUs) every other day neither prevented cancer nor lowered the risk of heart attack or stroke in middle-aged and older women. (More recently, a 2008 study found no benefit of 400 IUs every other day in middle-aged and older men.)

Bottom line: Forget the supplements and get your vitamin E from food (oils like safflower, peanuts, eggs, fortified cereals, fruits, and green, leafy vegetables). Bear in mind that cooking and storing foods with vitamin E can reduce the amount you're getting.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Pancreatic cancer symptoms

In its early stages, pancreatic cancer does not typically have many obvious symptoms. Often symptoms that are present are subtle and may not be noticed. For this reason, most pancreatic cancers are diagnosed at a late stage. Symptoms of pancreatic cancer include

Unexplained weight loss

Abdominal pain (often described as a dull, gnawing ache that spreads to the back, which may becomes worse if the patient eats)


Weight loss and weakness

Nausea and loss of appetite

Back pain

Itching of the skin


Fever and shivering

Processed meat 'linked to pancreatic cancer'

Can bacon increase the risk of cancer?

A link between eating processed meat, such as bacon or sausages, and pancreatic cancer has been suggested by researchers in Sweden.

They said eating an extra 50g of processed meat, approximately one sausage, every day would increase a person's risk by 19%.

But the chance of developing the rare cancer remains low.

The World Cancer Research Fund suggested the link may be down to obesity.

Eating red and processed meat has already been linked to bowel cancer. As a result the UK government recommended in 2011 that people eat no more than 70g a day.

Prof Susanna Larsson, who conducted the study at the Karolinska Institute, told the BBC that links to other cancers were "quite controversial".

She added: "It is known that eating meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer, it's not so much known about other cancers."

The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, analysed data from 11 trials and 6,643 patients with pancreatic cancer.

Increased risk

It found that eating processed meat increased the risk of pancreatic cancer. The risk increased by 19% for every 50g someone added to their daily diet. Having an extra 100g would increase the risk by 38%.

Prof Larsson said: "Pancreatic cancer has poor survival rates. So as well as diagnosing it early, it's important to understand what can increase the risk of this disease."

She recommended that people eat less red meat.

Cancer Research UK said the risk of developing pancreatic cancer in a lifetime was "comparatively small" - one in 77 for men and one in 79 for women.

Sara Hiom, the charity's information director, said: "The jury is still out as to whether meat is a definite risk factor for pancreatic cancer and more large studies are needed to confirm this, but this new analysis suggests processed meat may be playing a role."

However, she pointed out that smoking was a much greater risk factor.

The World Cancer Research Fund has advised people to completely avoid processed meat.

Dr Rachel Thompson, the fund's deputy head of science, said: "We will be re-examining the factors behind pancreatic cancer later this year as part of our Continuous Update Project, which should tell us more about the relationship between cancer of the pancreas and processed meat.

"There is strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of pancreatic cancer and this study may be an early indication of another factor behind the disease.

"Regardless of this latest research, we have already established a strong link between eating red and processed meat and your chances of developing bowel cancer, which is why WCRF recommends limiting intake of red meat to 500g cooked weight a week and avoid processed meat altogether."

By James Gallagher Health reporter, BBC News

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Causage and bacon can give you cancer

There’s nothing like sausage and bacon for breakfast, but can they give you cancer?

Researchers now say that eating a single serving of processed meat every day could increase your risk of pancreatic cancer. The risk is small, but cutting down on your processed meats is still probably not a bad idea.

Based the findings from seven different studies, Swedish researchers found that the risk of pancreatic cancer was 19 percent greater among people who ate roughly 4 ounces of processed meat per day. That’s equivalent to about one link of sausage or four pieces of bacon per day. The study was published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Pancreatic cancer affects roughly one in 65 men and women, according to the National Cancer Institute, but due to the fact that it’s usually progressed to an advanced stage by the time it’s detected, the five-year rate of survival is just 5.5 percent.

Processed meats have also previously been tied to colon and bladder cancer, and due to the fact that they’re often high in salt and fat, they can increase the risk of other health problems as well.

The cancer risk, though, is likely due to nitrites, chemical preservatives broken down in the stomach and carried to the pancreas through the bloodstream. If you’re hooked on processed meat, you could at least look for products that don’t have nitrites.

The American Meat Institute Foundation maintains that processed meats are “a healthy part of a balanced diet” and that nutrition decisions should be based on the total body of evidence, as opposed to single studies.

“Too often, epidemiological findings are reported as ‘cased closed’ findings, as if a researcher has discovered the definitive cause of a disease or illness,” AMIF president James Hodges said in a statement.

“All of these studies struggle to disentangle other lifestyle and dietary habits from meat and processed meat and admit that they can’t do it well enough to use their conclusions to accurately recommend people change their dietary habits. What the total evidence has shown, and what common sense suggests, is that a balanced diet and a healthy body weight are the keys to good health.”

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