Is The Flu Over Yet?

Once January hits, and especially when we get to the warmer months like April, we start to celebrate the end of flu season. People start washing their hands a little less obsessively, forgetting about vaccinations, and throwing caution to the wind as we turn our thoughts to happier things like Easter and the impending summer! At least, most of us do. For those of us in New Mexico, however, things are a bit different. That’s right, this past week New Mexican officials issued a statement begging residents not to get too comfortable too fast. Contrary to popular belief, in New Mexico flu season is still far from over.

This year’s flu was especially nasty, almost doubling hospitalization rates in the state and leading to 28 deaths in Dona Ana County alone. Although it looks like the influenza A virus is pretty much done doing damage, influenza B is still a big threat to New Mexican residents.

It may be a little late to get vaccinations at this point, but it’s not too late to continue exercising other precautionary tactics like proper and frequent hand-washing, etc. We’re almost out of the woods, but if everyone can help out by keeping flu on the brain and continuing to try to prevent the spread for just a little bit longer, then soon enough we can start celebrating the end!

Why You Should Drop That Candy Bar the Next Time You're Craving It

What gives you cancer? Every day the answer changes. Not wearing sunscreen used to be a surefire way to increase your risk of cancer, then within years there were claims that wearing sunscreen was actually what put you at risk for developing cancer. Studies come out every week, each one with different results. What you should eat, what you shouldn’t eat…it’s impossible to know. Cancer is a difficult disease, and it’s one that is still largely a mystery to doctors today, even after years of study. There are a lot of mixed opinions, conflicting studies, and differing viewpoints. All we can do is keep up with the latest news and hope that it helps.

One of the most recent cancer studies was conducted by the University College of London, and it identifies processed sugar as one of the driving forces behind the growth and spread of cancer tumors. The study, which was based around the concept that tumors consume more glucose than normal, healthy tissues do in order to sustain their growth, could have some pretty interesting ramifications for the future of cancer screening.

For the study, scientists sensitized an MRI scanner to look specifically for glucose in the body. They noticed that cancer tumors light up very brightly when screened for this way, mostly because they contain high amounts of sugar. The technique is called “glucose chemical exchange saturation transfer”, and it was proven to be incredibly effective during the study.

Researchers are pretty excited about it. Dr. Simon Walker-Samuel, the lead researcher of the study from the UCL Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging, said that “The method uses an injection of normal sugar and could offer a cheap, safe alternative to existing methods for detecting tumors, which require the injection of radioactive material”.

While the results of the study may show exciting new possibilities for the way we conduct cancer screening, they also issue a word of warning to citizens about monitoring their sugar intake. “What we’re beginning to learn,” said Dr. Lewis Cantley, head of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard University, “is that insulin can cause adverse effects in various tissues, and a particular concern is cancer. If you happen to have a tumor that has insulin receptors on it, then it will get stimulated to take up the glucose that’s in the bloodstream. So rather than going to the fat or to the muscle, the glucose now goes into the tumor, and the tumor uses it to grow.”

The study highlights the importance of maintaining a balanced, healthy diet, reducing sugar intake to help minimize the risk of cancer. Does it work? We don’t know for sure. But it’s an interesting idea, and it never hurts to eat healthy! To read the full article, you can click here.

Results Are In? Phone Them, Please

You come in for a CT, an MRI, or some other medical procedure. You wear the gown, you do your time in the tube, then you get dressed and go home wondering “I wonder what they found”. For some, the question doesn’t remain unanswered for long. For others, especially those waiting for more critical responses, that answer could take weeks. I remember the day my friend’s mom went in for her biopsy. They’d discovered a mass in her breast during a previous MRI scan, and decided to do a biopsy to see if it was cancerous. I remember them telling her it would be two weeks before everything would be tested and her doctor had an open time available to sit down and read her the results.

I remember wondering how she’d manage to wait that long, and thinking that for someone who’s about to find out whether or not they have cancer, two weeks must feel like a lifetime to wait.

According to studies from UC San Francisco’s Dr. Maria Wei and colleagues, I wasn’t too far off. Traditionally the standard has been to deliver biopsy results in person, because doctors felt like it was a more personal way to deliver difficult news. What this meant, though, was that patients had to wait long after the results were in to actually schedule an appointment and receive the news.

Wei and her colleagues have surveyed patients at melanoma clinics around the country about whether or not they preferred the traditional way of delivering test results, and they found that now more than ever, patients want to know the news as soon as they possibly can.

It’s agonizing sitting around and waiting for something that could be potentially life changing, and patients are starting to admit that rather than sitting down with a doctor, they’d prefer to be informed of their test results over the phone as soon as the information is made available to their doctor.

It’s an interesting idea, and one that many centers are hoping to embrace. Dr. Jennifer Stein, a dermatologist at NYU School of Medicine, noted that “As generations change and as technology changes, we may be more moving in that direction. Asking a patient how they want to receive information can be really illuminating.”

Sharing is Caring

This year we’ve been really focusing on trying to figure out what our patients and providers want from us. We created this blog as a point of contact, a way of reaching out and connecting with each of you.

We’ve used it to share information about our center, our staff, and the medical procedures that we do here. We’ve done spotlights, we’ve done survival stories, and we’ve done some really random stuff as well.

Our goal has always been to use this blog as a way to provide you guys with information, be a source of entertainment or enjoyment during a long and boring day, and share what you feel you need to hear/see. It’s a blog for the people, from the people.

So we’re asking for suggestions from all of you out there! What’s something you want to see more of? What’s something that you get excited reading about, or even sharing with your friends? What types of content do you look forward to reading on our blog?

We’d love if you could take the take to share with us. Leave us a comment, send us a personal message, or if you’re in the office don’t hesitate to speak with one of our workers! Any suggestions that you have would be greatly appreciated. The more we know about what you guys want to see, the more we can share it with you!

Saving the World One Cheap, Blingy Bra at A Time

October is a beautiful month, and between the fall changes and the trick or treating and the pumpkin carving, it can be easy to forget to focus on what we think is one of the most important parts of October: bringing awareness to and taking a stand against breast cancer, an ugly disease that seems to rear its head more and more often every year. Usually during this time of the year, you start getting flooded with bra decorating contests. It was a very original idea when it was first created, but it’s become a staple of October since then, with millions of different organizations each offering their own contest every year. The concept is a simple one: decorate a bra and donate the money towards funding for breast cancer research. Unfortunately, oversaturation has become a bit of an issue.

Every year we’re finding that less and less people are participating, and we believe it’s because people have gotten tired of seeing the same thing year after year. That’s very sad to us. So we wanted to take a little bit of time to remind you why things like the bra decorating contest are actually important.

1) They do in fact raise awareness, and without awareness a solution can never be found. People have to know about the problem if we expect them to help be a part of solving it.

2) It’s a light-hearted way to talk about a heavy issue. It’s not easy to talk about cancer. It’s an ugly disease that has stolen loved ones from so many people, and it’s hard to find a way to bring attention to the issue without bringing up painful memories. Doing that in a light-hearted way makes it easier for people to get involved.

3) Bra decorating contests have raised millions of dollars for breast cancer research over the years. It doesn’t always feel like getting all arts-and-craftsy with a cheap Walmart bra is really accomplishing anything, but in reality these bra decorating contests (as silly as they might seem) are actually huge contributors to breast cancer research funding. Our contest may only end up raising $100, but if one million organizations each raise $100, that’s $100,000,000.

It may be too late to enter our contest, since decorated bras are already up for voting, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to get involved. We encourage you to take part in the voting process on our Facebook page, and if you feel inspired then you can just donate to the cause as well!

You don’t have to decorate a bra to show that you care about breast cancer. Just be involved. Help raise awareness. Educate yourself and help educate others. And if you do enjoy decorating bras, then that’s great too! Either way, it’s the people like you who can help companies make strides towards finding a cure for this horrible disease.

High Heels Might Not Be So Bad for Your Knees After All

People have said for years that high heels are bad for your joints, yet stylish women everywhere still enjoy stepping into these shoes for work and for play. It turns out these women may actually be doing their knees a favor, according to a new article. Researchers found that running shoes increases strain on hip, knee, and ankle joints and causes 38% more ankle twisting than being barefoot.

How does this relate to high heels, you wonder?

The strain running shoes caused on these joints is worse than the strain walking in high heels causes, according to the study’s lead researcher D. Casey Kerrigan of JKM Technologies LLC.

Unfortunately, that does not mean that medical experts are now recommending trading in sneakers for stilettos.

Instead, the suggestion from this study is to aim for barefoot running.

Obviously, running without shoes poses its own health risks, so the fairly new trend of “barefoot” running may be the best option. These “barefoot” shoes are designed to allow the arch is to absorb the shock stemming from hitting the pavement, just as they would when running barefoot. However, this trend is not without its own risks.

The good news is that research is still being performed and hopefully will result in better shoe design and technology that will allow runners to stay fit, while preserving their joints.

Here's a video to learn barefoot running.