By Cherise Tasker
By jchatoff from venice beach, usa (berries Uploaded by hike395) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
A blackberry is a beautiful thing. In its own red-black, tiny, grape-like cluster, one blackberry delivers juice, crunch, and many health benefits. Like its fellow berries, straw, blue, ras and cran, to name a few, the blackberry is delicious and nutritious. While each type of berry is beautiful in its own way–the glorious color, lovely shape and unique taste–all berries provide us with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, electrolytes, dietary fiber, and even a small amount of protein.
Plants produce compounds called phytochemicals. Many phytochemicals are antioxidants. Anitoxidants are molecular substances that in some studies have been shown to protect cells from the negative effect of free radicals. Free radicals arise in the body as a byproduct of normal internal processes such as digestion or due to exposure to external toxins such as cigarette smoke and radiation. Free radicals’ effects on cells may contribute to the aging process and to the development of cancer. Berries are an excellent source of antioxidant phytochemicals.
Phytochemicals with antioxidant effects include vitamins A, C, and E. These vitamins have other beneficial properties as well. Our bodies use vitamin A to produce pigments for the photoreceptor cells for night vision. Vitamin C is utilized in collagen production. As a component of connective tissues, collagen is important for wound healing and maintenance of strong bones. Vitamin C is also used in chemical pathways that synthesize molecules critical to brain function and energy production. Vitamin E plays an important role in maintaining normal platelet and immune cell function.
Carotenoids, the red, yellow, and orange pigments in plants, are also a type of phytochemical with antioxidant and health-supportive properties. Studies have shown that carotenoids may help reduce the incidence of heart attack and cancer. Carotenoid molecules are found in the lens and retina of the eye, making this nutrient important to eye health. Carotenoids’ antioxidant properties may lend some protection against acute macular degeneration. Because of its unique molecular structure, carotenoids absorb light and may also have a vision-protective effect, including the possible prevention of acute macular degeneration (AMD). Carotenoids are converted to vitamin A as well, helping to assure the ability to see in low lighting conditions. Carotenoids give berries their orange and gold color.
Polyphenols are a type of phytochemical that include the flavonoid subgroup. In addition to its antioxidant effects, flavonoids interact with various enzyme systems in the body, resulting in anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anti-allergic activity. Studies have shown that flavonoids may also be cardioprotective. One category of flavonoids, anthocyanins, has been linked to the prevention of memory loss. Anthocyanins give berries their blue, purple, and red color.
The Blackberry. The anthocyanins that give blackberries their rich color also lend this fruit its antioxidant capacity. In addition to their high-fiber content, blackberries also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help decrease cholesterol levels. Studies have been conducted on blackberry wine for its potential health benefits. Although data to date is inconclusive, studies on the health effect of the beautiful berries continue.
The Blueberry. High in vitamin C and anthocyanins, blueberries have a substantial amount of fiber as well. The fiber makes blueberries particularly filling and a good choice for those who are watching their calorie intake. Blueberries are also a good source of manganese, a mineral that helps optimize the conversion of carbohydrates and fat into energy. Blueberries contain the carotenoid lutein, which may help slow the progression of AMD.
The Cranberry. Traditionally, cranberry juice has been promoted as helpful in preventing urinary tract infections (UTIs). The thinking was that the berry juice acidified the urine, making it inhospitable to bacteria growth. More recent studies suggest that chemicals (possibly the anthocyanins) in the cranberries prevent bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tract, thus preventing UTIs. Cranberries also contain salicylic acid, an ingredient in aspirin, and may help prevent blood clots. Proanthocyanidine, a flavonoid found in cranberries, has been found to prevent dental plaque formation.
The Raspberry. Usually a pink-red color, raspberries are also available in white, gold, purple, and black varieties. They are an excellent source of vitamin C and anthocyanins. Raspberries are also high in potassium, an electrolyte important to maintaining a healthy blood pressure.
The Strawberry. Strawberries are high in vitamin C, polyphenols, fiber, potassium, and manganese. Just 8 strawberries provide more vitamin C than an orange. It is commonly noted that strawberries are both heart-shaped and heart-protective. Because they are high in fiber, they may help lower cholesterol levels. Their antioxidant components may offer anti-inflammatory protection and decrease the risks for blood clots.
Please, enjoy the spring with a bowl of beautiful berries.
Posted by hclibrary on May 16, 2013 in Cancer, Health | 0 comments
Cancer is a word heard far too often in our community.
That is why we are fighting back against this disease with our longtime friend and partner – the American Cancer Society – by encouraging you to consider taking part in one of their biggest research projects to date made possible in partnership with Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT), Howard County Wellness Center, Roger Carter Recreation Center, St. Agnes Hospital and UnitedHealthcare.
During the week of June 9-15, 2013, the Howard County community will have the opportunity to enroll in Cancer Prevention Study (CPS-3), a nationwide effort of the American Cancer Society to help researchers better understand the lifestyle, genetic and environmental factors that may cause or prevent cancer. The study’s goal is to recruit a diverse group of 300,000 Americans across the U.S.
County Executive Ken Ulman is encouraging Howard County residents to set a record and enroll 1,000 participants in CPS-3.
If you are between 30 and 65 years old, are willing to make the commitment to the study, and have never been diagnosed with cancer (with the exception of basal and squamous cell skin cancer), you are eligible to enroll. If you don’t meet the eligibility requirements, your significant participation comes from telling everyone you know about the opportunity to help prevent cancer.
Enrollment takes place June 9-15 at these Howard County locations.
St. Agnes Hospital
900 South Caton Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21229: In Maryland Metabolic Institute (MMI) Conference Room
Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 8:30 am -12:00 pm
6095 Marshalee Drive, Suite 200, Elkridge, MD 21075: In Oriole Park/Ravens Roost Room
Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 10:00 am – 1:30 pm
Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT)
6711 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia, MD 21046: In Sustainability Suite, 1st Floor
Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 10:00 am – 1:30 pm
Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center
10710 Charter Drive, Columbia, MD 21044: In Suite 100, Ellicott Mills Room
Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 4:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Roger Carter Recreation Center
3676 Fels Lane, Ellicott City, MD 21043: In Multipurpose Room
Thursday, June 13, 2013, 4:00 pm – 7:30 pm
If you are interested in enrolling, please follow these simple steps:
1. Visit www.CPS3HowardCounty.org or call 1-888-604-5888 to schedule an enrollment appointment. The appointment should take 20-30 minutes. You will be emailed a confirmation with instructions to complete your first, most comprehensive survey regarding medications you are taking, family history of cancer, etc.
2. At your appointment, you will sign an informed consent form, complete a brief survey, provide a waist circumference measurement, and give a small blood sample.
3. Once enrolled, you will be asked to complete mailed surveys from the American Cancer Society every few years over the next 20-30 years to update lifestyle, medical and behavioral information.
This is our chance to fight back against a disease that takes too much. We sincerely hope you will take part in this historic study and share this message with all those you know who want to join this fight and make cancer history in Howard County.
Learn more at cancer.org/cps3 or visit www.CPS3HowardCounty.org to join today.
Posted by HCGH on Apr 16, 2013 in Cancer, Health | 0 comments
via Johns Hopkins Health Magazine
Despite its reputation as an older person’s disease, colorectal cancer is increasing among young people.
The rise of poor eating and exercise habits permeates the news these days and, as a result, many illnesses traditionally affecting older people are now appearing in the young. One startling example is colorectal cancer; doctors are seeing an increase in cases among people younger than 50, which is the typical age to begin screening.
“Nobody knows for sure why,” says Sandy Fang, M.D., a colorectal surgeon at Johns Hopkins, “but it’s probably a combination of things.” Fang points to many culprits as possible risk factors: a family history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and lifestyle patterns such as low-fiber diet, excessive intake of red meat, obesity and lack of exercise.
Colorectal cancer rates have been declining in older populations, but the disease is on the rise in people ages 18 to 49, with rates having gone up more than 2 percent between 1998 and 2007, according to the National Cancer Institute. Fang says younger people are often misdiagnosed because the symptoms of colorectal cancer—rectal bleeding, abdominal pain and change in bowel habits to name a few—can point to many other disorders, and doctors don’t always consider colorectal cancer because of the patients’ age.
When the disease is diagnosed it is usually advanced, because the younger person hasn’t sought care quickly or because symptoms might not have been recognized or acknowledged. Thus, the treatments are more extensive and costly.
Fang urges people who have signs of colorectal cancer, regardless of their age, to be proactive with their care. When she sees symptoms in people who have a family history of the disease, Fang says she tends to do colonoscopies sooner rather than later.
Minimizing Your Risk Johns Hopkins recommends that most men and women get their first colonoscopy screening for colorectal cancer at age 50. There are, however, certain factors that can place younger people at higher risk and necessitate earlier screening:
- Rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, diarrhea, changes in bowel movements, or anemia. Talk to your doctor about when to start screenings.
- A family history of colorectal cancer. Start screening 10 years before the diagnosis of the youngest affected family member.
- Lynch syndrome. If you are at risk for this hereditary cancer of the digestive tract, start colonoscopies at age 21 and continue every one to three years.
- Familial adenomatous polyposis. This disease is characterized by benign growths that will likely develop into cancer. Get a colonoscopy every one to two years, starting as early as the teen years.
Posted by hclibrary on Feb 25, 2013 in Cancer, Health, Safety | 0 comments
By Cherise Tasker
Check out the new Heath IT Cancer Resources Guide. The site takes an innovative approach to cataloging informative medical websites and apps. Many excellent websites offer wellness and health resources, but this site goes a step further by dividing the resources within a patient-supportive framework. The 76 digital tools are divided in five categories as follows: Decision Making, Education, Information and Treatment management, Social Support, and Lifestyle Management.
The eHealth Initiative is a unique nonprofit collaboration between nonprofit and commercial healthcare organizations; community and academic centers; and medical, clinical, and information technology professionals. The diverse influences and perspectives allow the organization to advocate for health information technology that meets the needs of patients, providers, payers, and quality monitors. For example, innovative technology will help care providers communicate electronically through health information exchanges (HIEs). Patients will have access to more efficient, state-of-the-art healthcare that is not limited by the patient’s area of residence. These cooperatives are being built specifically with healthcare in mind and with the privacy considerations unique to patient care. For example, many of Maryland’s hospitals and long-term care facilities are already members of CRISP (Chesapeake Regional Information System for Our Patients), an HIE dedicated to data sharing for improved patient care. As HIEs evolve, patients will more easily be able to move between care providers who will all be able to access critical medical documentation in a secure electronic environment.
Not only are health technology experts taking on the challenge of interconnectivity within states, they are addressing the national challenge as well. Regional Health Information Exchanges (RHIOs) would connect hospitals in different states and between HIEs. The RHIO networks would allow community providers to share data with local hospitals and academic centers. Patients needing specialty care in other locations or patients experiencing health issues while traveling could be cared for more quickly and expertly when care providers have access to medical problem lists, prescription records, prior laboratory results, and existing diagnostic studies such as EKGs. The information would be available through secure, private portals accessible only after patient consent and staff access verification.
Each of us can go digital with our own health information. Creating an online personal health record (PHR) collects medical data in an automated environment that one can access from anywhere there is a computer with Internet. A PHR is a convenient way to keep track of one’s medications, for example. In case of a medical emergency, a trusted friend or family member could access the information and provide it to healthcare providers. Free online PHR programs are available on websites such as WebMD. Several of Maryland’s hospitals have PHR programs as part of their online tools for their patients. Howard County General Hospital has information on its website about creating a PHR, including a link to a free program created by the American Health Information Management Association.
Posted by hclibrary on Feb 4, 2013 in Cancer | 0 comments
Yep, according to the International Union Against Cancer, cancer is is still not a focus of global health agendas and urgent action is needed to raise awareness about cancer and develop practical strategies to address the disease or millions of people will continue to die. Yes, millions! The World Health Organization confirms that cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide and makes up about 13% of all around deaths. So why a day devoted to it?
The World Cancer Day Organization states that the day gives us a “chance to raise our collective voices in the name of improving general knowledge around cancer and dismissing misconceptions about the disease.” In fact, this year World Cancer Day will focus on Target 5 of the World Cancer Declaration: “Dispel damaging myths and misconceptions about cancer, under the tagline ‘Cancer – Did you know?’”
So what should one do on World Cancer Day? Since this year is all about dispelling myths, communication is key. Here are some suggestions from the World Cancer Day Organization:
- Get the word out using Twitter / Facebook pages (global hashtags and key messages to share via social platforms are provided in the advocacy toolkit).
- Use the “Cancer Myths vs Facts” Facebook application. This application will be launched for World Cancer Day 2013 – be sure to use it and share it widely to spread the truth about cancer on this day.
- Use the World Cancer Day poster which has been designed specifically for the 2013 campaign. You can use it digitally or as a printed document to promote the day and the theme.
- Place the World Cancer Day logo on your website, link to www.worldcancerday.org, and upload an article about the day onto your site.
- Share the Declaration with the public, and encourage them to sign-up on World Cancer Day.
- Add to the World Cancer Day online map of events and activities.
- Translate: Help bring the messages and tools of the World Cancer Day campaign to a wider audience. It would be useful to have additional translations for the posters and fact sheets. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in helping.
- Adapt the World Cancer Day poster, by adding your organization’s logo before you disseminate it. Design files are available upon request.
- Help disseminate or display the four World Cancer Day Fact sheets and the World Cancer Day Evidence sheets, and Cancer infographics.
- Help by organizing fund-raising activities and/or sub-level campaigns using World Cancer Day messaging.
- Call on government to ensure that cancer interventions, across the entire continuum of care from prevention to early detection, treatment and palliation, are adequately addressed in the Global Action Plan. For more information and supporting documents, the UICC Advocacy toolkit may come in handy.
Onions are gross. That may seem unfair, but a small group of Well & Wisers from HCLS were having a discussion one day, and, as it will when you work in a library and discuss almost everything, onions came up. And the consensus was, whether because of taste, texture, or both, onions are not a a crowd favorite. Now there was defense of this poor, maligned bulb. Some declared that onions are a necessity for mirepoix, others admitted that caramelizing made onions more palatable, and one person proclaimed that onions are beneficial to circulation. What? Wait a minute. You don’t make a claim like that in a library without citing your sources. So, we decided to take a closer look at the onion.
The LiveStrong Foundation seems to confirm the circulation claim. Red and yellow onions, as well as zucchini and grapes, contain quercetin, a bioflavonoid that has a wide array of properties, including the ability to strengthen and extend the capillaries and improve circulation.
But that’s not all the onion has going for it (sorry, onion haters). According to the George Mateljan Foundation for the World’s Healthiest Foods (WHF): onions are also high in polyphenol, and “for colorectal, laryngeal, and ovarian cancer, between 1-7 servings of onion has been shown to provide risk reduction. But for decreased risk of oral and esophageal cancer, you’ll need to consume one onion serving per day (approximately 1/2 cup).” WHF also indicates that onions may provide cardiovascular benefits by lowering blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and improving cell membrane function in red blood cells; help support bone and connective tissue, especially in menopausal and post-menopausal women; provide anti-inflammatory benefits; possibly help balance blood sugar; and help prevent bacterial infection.
Onions are part of allium vegetables, but haven’t gotten nearly the attention of that rock star garlic. There’s even some research evidence suggesting that one should include at least one serving of an allium vegetable—such as onions—in your diet every day.
But that’s not all, onion naysayers; onions have been a staple among home remedies for a long time. Organic Facts suggests that onions can provide relief for problems such as the asthma, respiratory problems, angina, cough, and even the common cold. They also indicate that onions can be used to prevent tooth decay and oral infections, may aid in thinning of the blood, and can improve anaemic conditions. Organic Facts even has recipes for treatments, all containing onions, that are said to relieve earaches, treat urinary tract infections, produce glowing skin, repel insects, and boost sex drive (typed with raised eyebrows).
So the onion creep factor may be something we just have to get over. There’s too much good stuff going on in those layers. You can certainly learn more about them through books such as Onions, Onions, Onions by Rosemay Moon. And they’re little wonders that you can easily grow, as detailed in Grow Your Own Vegetables Carol Klein. But if you just can’t get over the yuck factor, maybe you can get some of their benefits though other allium vegetables, so you may want to check out Garlic and Other Alliums: The Lore and the Science.