Blog Posts by EmpowHER

  • Is Marijuana the Cancer Cure We’ve Waited For?

    By Lynette Summerill

    Researchers at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco have discovered cannabidiol (CBD), a compound derived from marijuana, may stop many kinds of aggressive cancers from spreading. If the therapeutic compound works in humans as expected, the discovery could eventually make cancer curable.

    Two research teams led by molecular biologists Dr. Pierre Desprez, lead investigator, and Dr. Sean McAllister have been studying the effects of CBD, a non-toxic and non-psychoactive chemical compound found in the cannabis plant, on elevated levels of Id1 genes and proteins.

    The Id1 gene regulates the normal development and death cycle of epithelial cells in healthy people. In people with cancer, something goes haywire with the molecular mechanisms that regulate this complex system and cells encoded with the Id1 gene begin to proliferate uncontrolled.

    Dr. Desprez found high Id gene and protein levels are associated with aggressive cancers that are progressing

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  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Helping Unite Those Who Live with Rare Leukemia

    By Andrew Schorr

    In a remarkable demonstration of progress in cancer treatment, people around the United States who are living with a previously fatal form of leukemia will join together this month to focus on enhancing the quality of their lives in the decades ahead. Patients and families impacted by chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) will participate in a six-hour online virtual patient summit focused on "Living Well with CML."

    The event will open and close with presentations from two leading CML patient advocates: Greg Stephens, the executive director of the National CML Society, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the NBA's all-time leading scorer, actor, author, ambassador and patient advocate who was diagnosed with CML in 2008.

    When he made his diagnosis public, Abdul-Jabbar told ABC News that "I heard the world 'leukemia,' and I thought this was definitely a death sentence." He added that his prognosis was good, and said, "If I can do this as I'm told to do it, I can manage this."

    He now

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  • Living Well with Multiple Myeloma: One Woman’s Journey

    By Andrew Schorr

    When Cheryl Boyce experienced constant fatigue she saw her doctor, who suggested a blood test. The results were surprising. They led to a diagnosis of multiple myeloma, a type of cancer that begins in the bone marrow and affects the plasma cells.

    She was just 49 years old at the time. Most people with myeloma are diagnosed after age 65 and the disease is rare in people younger than age 35.

    Interestingly, Boyce was working for the State of Ohio in the health field when she found out she was a patient too. Now 61, she is doing well and has become a well-known patient advocate.

    Among her activities is serving on the board of directors of Multiple Myeloma Opportunities for Research and Education (MMORE), a national organization founded by the parents of a woman diagnosed with multiple myeloma at age 22, who is also doing well.

    In the not-so-distant past, the survival rate for multiple myeloma was not good. Today research has resulted in a host of new drugs, drugs

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  • Patients and Families Cope with Cancer: Michele Reiss, PhD Interviewed

    By Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch

    In the United States an estimated 241,740 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Men who are African-American, have a family history of the cancer, or are over age 60 are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. In men over the age of 75, it is the leading cause of death due to cancer, noted MedlinePlus.

    Receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer can be difficult for the patient as well as his family. Michele A. Reiss, Ph.D., a psychotherapist, medical educator and author of the book Lessons in Loss and Living, works with individuals and their family members who are coping with serious illnesses.

    She talked to EmpowHER about issues with prostate cancer, coping for patients and their families, and self-care tips for loved ones.

    EmpowHER: What are misconceptions individuals have when they are faced with a diagnosis of prostate cancer? How do you help them work through those?

    Dr. Reiss:

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  • Johnson & Johnson Blazes Trail for Product Safety

    By Jody Smith

    Johnson & Johnson has announced a plan to take harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde from products in 2015 by the end of the year, according to the New York Times. This will affect their Aveeno, Clean & Clear, Desitin, RoC, Lubriderm and Neutrogena brands.

    Johnson & Johnson is the first large company to make this move.

    This is not their first step in this direction, but it's even bigger than their earlier announcement that they will be taking some chemicals out of their baby products by 2013.

    Vice president for product stewardship and toxicology for consumer health brands Susan Nettesheim said that Johnson & Johnson wants to be involved in the public's concerns about avoiding products that may be hazardous to their health.

    Nettesheim indicated that this is an enormous undertaking, requiring considerable research, substituting better alternatives to the questionable ingredients.

    Johnson & Johnson will be finding and testing new suppliers in the quest for safe

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  • Are Chicken Pox Parties the New Vaccine?

    By Maria Smith

    One of the worst times for parents is when they have to take their kids into the doctor's office knowing they must get shots. Parents worry about the pain of the needle (and their child's reaction to that pain), but also about what is in the vaccine shot and how their child will react to it.

    After a now-debunked 1998 paper by a British scientist claiming vaccinations caused autism, many parents fear any vaccination and have opted out of them for their child. Instead, they search for "natural" ways for their child to gain a resistance to common childhood diseases. They have their child ingest specific vitamins and minerals that are supposed to raise the child's immunity levels.

    Some parents throughout the United States have organized "chicken pox parties" to introduce the virus to their child in a "controlled" setting. Some have even gone to the extremes of buying chicken pox-tainted items like lollipops to pass the disease on to their children.

    Many parents

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  • Young Genius Makes Breast Cancer Diagnosis Less Painful

    By Lynette Summerill

    The global statistics for breast cancer are staggering: 1 in 8 women worldwide will be diagnosed at some point during their lifetime. As with all cancers, early detection is key.

    Women who are diagnosed early have a 95 percent chance of living at least five years after diagnosis and it's estimated early breast cancer diagnosis could save 400,000 lives globally each year, according to the World Health Organization.

    Fine needle aspiration (FNA) is currently the least invasive technique to biopsy breast lumps, or masses. During the procedure - about as painful as a blood test - a doctor retrieves enough cell tissue through a tiny needle for a microscopic analysis.

    FNAs are less painful, less expensive to do, result in less complications for patients, and make results available more quickly than the current traditional core or open biopsies.

    But here's the problem. FNAs are currently less reliable in conclusively diagnosing breast cancer than more invasive and

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  • Coming Full Circle: Taking Care of Your Abusive Parent in Old Age

    By Susan Cody

    The New York Times Magazine online had a really interesting article written by psychiatrist Mark E. Agronin, M.D. who works with elderly residents, some of whom reside in nursing homes.

    The elderly arrive, presumably to finish out their lives being cared for physically, medically, emotionally and socially by a qualified staff of caregivers.

    Agronin provided insight in his article about the difficulties of dealing with the adult children of elderly parents they claim were abusive.

    He's not doubting their stories. Child abuse is known to be rampant in this country. He talks about the changes seen once these parents become old and frail and the adult children are now strong and capable.

    Gone is the frightening monster who hit, beat, sexually abused, or psychologically harmed their children. Now that abuser, be it the father or mother, is old, frail, weak and sometimes powerless.

    The power has come down from parent to adult child. Some grown children simply walk

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  • Diana Nyad's Fourth Try Cut Short, Still Quite an Accomplishment

    By Jody Smith

    It would have made a great birthday present. Diana Nyad's goal was to become the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida, across the Straits of Florida, without the use of a shark cage.

    Climbing out of the water on the Florida shore would have made a wonderful gift for her sixty-third birthday, which falls on Wednesday, August 22. But this was not to be.

    Nyad has tried for the fourth time to swim from Cuba to Florida. For the fourth time she has had to be pulled from the water.

    Steven Munatones, editor in chief of the Daily News of Open Water Swimming, and official observer of the swim, said that with the challenges of the Gulf Stream and the weather, the swim had become too dangerous.

    From Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida is a distance of 103 miles. After swimming for 60 hours, Nyad had covered about half the distance on her way to Florida, and was within 50 miles of reaching her goal.

    According to members of Nyad's support crews, jellyfish had stung her at

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  • Using Electronic Apps as Prescriptions for Health

    By Dr. Daemon Jones

    I truly enjoy seeing patients and helping them create practical ways to create health in their lives. It is one of my greatest pleasures. I am interested in ways to use technology as a tool to share information with my patients as well.

    Before I went to naturopathic medical school, I was a computer consultant for several years. Having a background in using technology to solve problems is helpful in providing people with tools they can use in their everyday life to answer and track health-related issues.

    It is clear that smartphones, iPads, tablets and other electronic devices have fascinated people and become part of our daily lives.

    There are people that can't live (or at least would not be happy) without their devices and the accompanying applications (apps) they use.

    On a weekly basis I have friends and patients that tell me about how they use apps to simplify their lives or make their lives more fun. I am always investigating apps my patients can use to

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