Have a Healthy Prostate

By Roseanne Schoen

In acknowledgement of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, here are a few more ways to stay prostate-healthy!

Schedule an Annual Prostate Exam: Annual prostate exams can help catch problems early and can diagnosis and treat preexisting problems such as an enlarged prostate, prostatitis, and prostate cancer.

Maintain Your Ideal Weight: If you need to lose weight do it. Studies showed that men with 43 inch waists or greater were 50% more likely than normal weight men to suffer from prostate enlargement. Eat adequate servings of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Limit your intake of salt and processed foods.

Abstain from Alcohol: Studies have shown that beer raises the body’s prolactin levels (prolactin increases the uptake of testosterone into the prostate and this increased testosterone converts into increased levels of DHT), and that the higher the alcohol intake the more likely a man was to suffer from prostate enlargement. Caffeine and sugar should also be avoided or moderated.

Avoid Drug and Pesticide Exposure: Drugs and pesticides may increase the 5-alpha-reduction of steroids and may put you at a higher risk for cancer.

Keep Cholesterol Down: Free radical damaged cholesterol may play a role in stimulating the prostate cell formation that may cause an enlarged prostate so it is important to keep your cholesterol level within a healthy range.


Ovarian Cancer Awareness in September

By Roseanne Schoen

I was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in January 2005- I was 27 at the time. I had gone in for a follow-up 2 weeks after a second surgery to remove cysts on my ovary. I remember how my doctor sat me down and told me, “I’m sorry, but you have cancer.” I had stage 1c ovarian cancer, meaning that the cancer is in one or both ovaries and is either on the outside of an ovary, grown through the capsule of an ovary, or is in fluid taken from the pelvis. I was in shock.  I didn’t have a family history of ovarian cancer. I was also only 27 and I never thought that, at my age, I would develop this type of cancer. Two weeks later, I had my left ovary and fallopian tube taken out and then had chemotherapy for 4 months- my oncologist wanted to treat me as if I had stage 2 cancer-as if the cancer had spread into the pelvic tissue.

Luckily for me, the doctors caught my cancer early. Early cancers of the ovaries often cause no symptoms. I had initially gone to the doctor with symptoms of abdominal bloating and pain and irregular periods. Other symptoms may include difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and/or urinary symptoms (having to go urgently or often). When ovarian cancer causes symptoms, they tend to be symptoms that are more commonly caused by other things. Most of these symptoms can also be caused by other less serious conditions. These symptoms can be more severe when they are caused by ovarian cancer, but that isn’t always true. What is most important is that they are a change from how a woman usually feels.

By the time ovarian cancer is considered as a possible cause of these symptoms, it usually has already spread beyond the ovaries. Also, some types of ovarian cancer can rapidly spread to the surface of nearby organs. Still, prompt attention to symptoms may improve the odds of early diagnosis and successful treatment. If you have symptoms similar to those of ovarian cancer almost daily for more than a few weeks, and they can’t be explained by other more common conditions, report them to your health care professional — preferably a gynecologist — right away.

I am now at almost nine years of being cancer-free and I feel pretty good. I am a cancer survivor and I am proud to be able to tell my story!


September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month!

By Roseanne Schoen

According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 217,730 men will learn they have prostate cancer and more than 32,050 men will die from the disease this year.
Today, 1 man in 6 will get prostate cancer during his lifetime, but only 1 man in 34 will die of this disease. More than 2 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today. When detected during these earliest stages the 5-year survival rate is close to 100%. In an effort to educate and inform the public, the American Cancer Society recognizes September as National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Here are some tips to prevent prostate cancer:

1.     Keep a healthy weight and exercise regularly.

2.     Eat more fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes, watermelons, pink grapefruits, guava and papaya contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale also are good choices.

3.     Let your doctor know if you have a family history of prostate cancer. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease.

4.     Include more soy in your diet from sources such as tofu, soy nuts or soy flour or powders.

5.     Don’t smoke.

6.     Eat more selenium-rich foods such as wheat germ, tuna, herring and other seafood and shellfish, beef liver, kidney, eggs, sunflower and sesame seeds, cashews, mushrooms, garlic and onions. Selenium reduces risk of prostate cancer.

7.     Get a PSA blood test and digital rectal exam annually, beginning at age 50. Men at high risk, such as African American men or men with a strong family history of prostate cancer should begin testing at age 45.

Myasthenia Month

By Riva Preil

June marks Myasthenia Gravis Awareness Month, the disease that has affected people such as quarterback Brandon Cox, Christopher Robin Milne (son of Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne), and Aristotle Onassis. Myasthenia Gravis (MG) is a chronic, non-progressive neuromuscular autoimmune disease characterized by muscle weakness and fatigue.  On a cellular level, the physiologic dysfunction occurs at the neuromuscular junction. Normally, the neurotransmitter acetylcholine is released from the axon (nerve ending) where it travels to nicotinic receptors located in the muscle cell membrane.  Usually, when the acetylcholine binds to its receptors, muscle fiber contraction occurs.  However, in the case of MG, pathologic antibodies circulate in the blood and interfere with the acetylcholine binding.  This results in muscle weakness, particularly after periods of increased activity which is alleviated with rest.  The muscles most commonly affected are the ocular muscles, the limbs, and possibly even the respiratory system.

Aside from fatigability, the signs and symptoms of MG include ptosis (drooping eyelid due to muscle weakness), strabismus (non-symmetrical alignment of the eyeball), altered facial expression, slurred speech, and impaired chewing, talking and swallowing.  MG is often associated with other autoimmune diseases such as hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus type 1, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus.

MG can easily be confused with other disorders (slurred speech-stroke, weakness and fatigability- multiple sclerosis, facial muscle weakness- Bell’s Palsy).  Therefore, proper diagnosis is important in order to enable proper treatment. Physical examination includes multiple muscle testing, blood test to check for the presence of pathologic antibodies, and EMG (electromyography) to assess the muscle response to repetitive nerve stimulation (which tests muscle fatigability).

The primary treatment for MG is medication. The two types of medications used are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (ex. neostigmine and pyridostigmine) and immunosuppressive drugs (ex. prednisone and cyclosporine).  It may take weeks or even months for medication to take effect. In addition, it is important to bear in mind the decreased endurance, and exercise should be approached with caution and under the guidance of a licensed health care provider familiar with MG.  Finally, inspiratory muscle therapy, such as training with an incentive spirometer, diaphragmatic breathing, and pursed lip breathing techniques can help improve respiratory strength, mobility of the chest wall and ribs, and breathing endurance.