Monthly Archives: August 2016

Let’s Learn About Gum Disease

Swollen, bleeding gums can impact your overall health. If you think you’ve got gingivitis and have been ducking the dentist, make that phone call before it leads to tooth loss.

If your gums are red and swollen or bleed frequently, you may have gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. This chronic inflammation begins when bacteria irritate and invade your gums. Left untreated, gum disease can ultimately cause tooth loss and other health problems as well.

Gum Disease: Who’s at Risk

Older adults, tobacco users, and people who earn a lower income are at higher risk of having gum disease. Nearly 9 percent of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have periodontal disease, and 5 percent of those have moderate or severe cases.

Fortunately, better oral hygiene and regular dental care have resulted in lower rates of gum disease over the last 35 years, but there’s still room for improvement.

Gum Disease: To What Degree

There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the less severe form, and though it often causes red, swollen gums, there is typically minimal pain or discomfort. Gingivitis is usually the result of poor oral hygiene since bacteria thrive on food particles lodged in between teeth after meals. The good news is that gingivitis can often be reversed by professional dental treatment and good dental care at home.

If untreated, however, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. This occurs when bacteria invades tissue below the gum line, leading to chronic swelling and inflammation. Severe inflammation can cause the teeth to become loose and eventually fall out. Pockets of infection may develop as well, further compromising healthy gum and dental tissue.

There are a number of different types of periodontitis, including:

Aggressive periodontitis. This involves rapid gum and tooth destruction and tends to run in families.
Chronic periodontitis. The most common type, chronic periodontitis gradually causes gum instability, eventual tooth loss, and infection.
Necrotizing periodontal disease. In this severe form of gum disease, the gums, supporting ligaments in the mouth, and the upper part of your jawbone are destroyed. This type of gum disease is more likely in people who have underlying conditions such as profound malnutrition and immune system disorders, including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection.

Gum Disease: The Dangers Beyond Your Mouth

Taking good care of your teeth may be even more important than protecting a beautiful smile. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, gum inflammation has been liked to serious inflammatory conditions such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. One large study recently showed that the risk of developing cancer was increased by a small, but notable, degree among men with periodontal disease, even in those who were non-smokers.

Gum Disease: When to Get Treatment

Anytime you notice an area of your gums that is sore or swollen and doesn’t get better within two weeks, see your dentist. You may need to see a gum specialist, or periodontist, if:

You’re at high risk for gingivitis or periodontitis, which your dentist can help you determine. Factors contributing to your risk of gum disease include your age, your overall health, your smoking history, and whether or not family members have gum disease.
You have diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, osteoporosis, or are considering becoming pregnant.
A family member has gingivitis or periodontitis.

Gum Disease: Think Prevention

Even if you don’t have a family history of gum disease or other risk factors, you should take concrete steps to help prevent gingivitis and periodontitis:

Brush and floss daily.
Have your teeth cleaned by a dental professional at least twice a year.
If you have persistent problems with your gums — including bleeding, redness, swelling, loose teeth, a change in your ability to chew, or a change in how your dentures fit — ask your dentist to refer you to a gum specialist.
Additionally, be certain to make your dentist aware of all of your medications (including vitamins and herbal supplements) as well as any changes in your general health.

While protecting your smile is obviously important for its own sake, keep in mind that good oral hygiene may also help protect and enhance your overall health.

Some Informations About Red Meat

If you eat a lot of fatty and processed red meat, you may be setting the stage for a variety of medical conditions, including obesity, heart disease, even cancer. Here’s the 411 on what to avoid and what to eat in moderation.

Red Meat: The Health Risks

Fatty red meat is high in saturated fats, which tend to raise the “bad” cholesterol in the blood, otherwise known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Elevated levels of LDL cholesterol increase your risk for coronary heart disease.

Fatty cuts of beef, ground beef (especially if less than 85 percent lean), lamb, pork, sausage, hot dogs, and bacon are all culprits. Deli meats, too, can contain high levels of fat. In addition to being linked to an increased risk of heart disease, eating large amounts of fatty red meat increases your overall calorie intake, possibly leading to excess weight and obesity.

Red Meat: Cancer Research

A recent study from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) found that if your diet includes a lot of red meat and processed meat (like salami, bacon, or deli meats), rather than non-processed white meat (skinless chicken and turkey), you may have a shortened life span because of the link to heart disease and cancer. The study specifically noted that people who ate the most red meat increased their risk of death by more than 30 percent compared to those who ate the least. This included death from heart disease and cancer.

Another study highlighted the link between a high consumption of red and processed meat and colon cancer. High consumption of beef, lamb, or pork was described as 3 or more ounces a day for men and 2 or more ounces for women; high consumption of hot dogs, bacon, ham, sausage, or cold cuts was considered to be 1 ounce eaten five to six days a week for men, and two to three days a week for women. In this study, people who ate the most processed meat had a 50-percent greater risk of colon cancer and a 20-percent greater risk of rectal cancer as compared to those who ate the least.

Red Meat: Choosing Lean Meat

Protein, found in meat, is an important part of a healthy diet, along with carbohydrates and the right kinds of fat. The body uses protein as its building blocks for your muscles, bones, cartilage, blood, and skin. As long as it’s not your only source of protein, lean meat is the better way to enjoy red meat. Look for cuts that have no visible fat (these often include the word “loin”) or with less marbling; opt for ground beef that’s at least 90 percent lean.

In addition to lean meat cuts, other smart protein sources include:

Fatty fish, such as salmon, trout, and herring. These are high in a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids (one of the good fats) called omega-3 fatty acids. Eating these fish may reduce your risk of death from heart disease.
Seeds and nuts, like walnuts and flax. These are particularly good sources of essential fatty acids. Others, such as sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, and almonds, are also good sources of vitamin E. They are all, however, very calorie-dense, so limit your portions.
Red Meat: A Better Way to Cook

To further reduce the amount of fat in cooked lean meat, opt to broil, bake, roast, or simmer, rather than fry. Then, drain and discard any fat released during cooking. Be aware that the NCI recommends avoiding overcooking meats, especially blackening or charring meats, because of evidence that there may be increased risk of some cancers from eating meat prepared this way.

Red Meat: Going Vegetarian

Some people who want to improve their nutritional intake adopt a vegetarian diet numerous studies have shown that vegetarians have a lower risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some cancers.

Most vegetarian diets include little, if any, animal products. However, many plant proteins can provide enough nutrients for a healthy diet. But the sources of protein must be varied to include all the necessary nutrients. One of the biggest risks of eating a strict vegetarian diet is developing an iron deficiency. Iron is typically found in red meat and eggs, but those can be properly substituted with beans, spinach, iron-enriched products, dried fruits, and brewer’s yeast.

Whether you choose to follow a vegetarian diet or simply make wiser lean-meat choices, you’re sure to improve your overall health, lower your weight, and reduce your risk for various diseases.

Reasons Why Checkups Are Vital

Remember that old saying about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure? It more than applies to the regular doctor’s visit.

When you were little, your parents probably made sure you had an annual checkup with your doctor. But as you’ve grown older, you may have gotten out of this habit.

Health professionals stress that these regular exams are important to help identify risk factors and problems before they become serious. If diseases are caught early, treatments are usually much more effective. Ultimately, having a regular doctor’s visit will help you live a long and healthy life.

Doctor’s Visit: The Prevention Checkup

Depending on your age, sex, and family medical history, a checkup with your doctor may include:

Blood, urine, vision, and hearing tests to evaluate your overall health
Assessments of your blood pressure, cholesterol level, and weight
A discussion about your diet and exercise habits and any tobacco, drug, and alcohol use
Immunizations and booster shots
Screenings to assess your risk of developing certain diseases, including diabetes (if you already have high blood pressure or high cholesterol) and cancer
Depending on your age and sexual lifestyle, testing for STDs and possibly HIV
Starting at age 50, or younger if you have a family history, a screening test for colorectal cancer
A discussion about depression and stress to evaluate your mental health

Doctor’s Visit: Concerns for Men

For men, in addition to checking weight, high blood pressure, and other basics, your doctor’s visit may specifically include:

Starting at age 50, or younger if you have a family history, a rectal exam to check for abnormal bumps in the prostate and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test to screen for prostate cancer
Between the ages of 65 and 75 if you have ever smoked cigarettes, an abdominal exam to check for an enlargement in your aorta; an abdominal aortic aneurysm, a weakness in the lining of the aorta (a large blood vessel in your chest and abdomen), can develop with age and become a life-threatening problem.

Doctor’s Visit: Concerns for Women

For women, in addition to checking weight, high blood pressure, and other basics, your doctor’s visit may specifically include:

A test for cervical cancer, called a Pap smear, every one to three years
A clinical breast exam to check for any unusual lumps or bumps in your breasts
Starting at age 40 (or younger if you have a strong family history for breast cancer), a breast cancer screening with a mammogram every one to two years
Starting at age 65, a referral for a bone density test to screen for osteoporosis, the disease that causes brittle, fragile bones and typically affects older women; women with more than one risk factor for osteoporosis may start earlier
Doctor’s Visit: Preparation

It’s important for you to play an active role to get the most out of your doctor’s visit. Before your exam, review and update your family health history, be prepared to ask if you’re due for any general screenings or vaccinations, and come up with a list of questions if you have particular health concerns.

During your actual doctor’s visit, don’t be shy about getting your questions answered. Also, if your doctor gives you advice about specific health issues, don’t hesitate to take notes. Time is often limited during these exams, but by coming prepared you’re sure to get the most out of your checkup.

Some Ways to Cut Your Cancer Risk

You probably already know the top cancer cause — smoking. But you may not be as familiar with all of the other six

Because of medical advances and new treatment options, many forms of cancer have become manageable chronic illnesses, like diabetes.

And other discoveries have shown that it’s possible to cut your cancer risk. From diet and lifestyle changes to avoiding toxic chemicals and too much sun exposure, simple changes can make a big difference.

Cancer Risk No. 1: Tobacco

Tobacco kills. Smoking can damage almost every organ in your body and is a known cause of at least 15 different types of cancer.

The risks for cancer aren’t limited to cigarettes. Cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and the smokelesss tobacco called snuff are all linked to cancer.

Want another reason to quit? Secondhand smoke is a cancer cause, too. Tens of thousands of people — including children — have diseases ranging from asthma and pneumonia to sudden infant death syndrome and even ear infections as a result of secondhand smoke.

Cancer Risk No. 2: Obesity

Being overweight or obese is a known cancer cause. In fact, excess weight is linked to an increased risk for developing more than a dozen types of cancer, including breast and pancreatic cancers. The American Cancer Society stresses the need to keep your weight in check by, first, eating right:

Eat a diet limited in processed and red meats and including five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Eat whole grains instead of processed grains.
Limit your alcohol intake to one drink per day for women or two for men.

Cancer Risk No. 3: No Exercise

Diet alone usually isn’t enough to maintain a healthy body and cut your cancer risk. So, pick an activity that suits your level of fitness and get moving.

Adults should be physically active for at least 30 minutes on five or more days a week.
Children should engage in physical play for at least 60 minutes five days per week.

Cancer Risk No. 4: Sun Exposure

About one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States and most are sun related. Melanoma, the most serious skin cancer, can be fatal. You can lower your risk for skin cancer by limiting the time that you spend in the sun, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Take these additional steps:

Seek out shade, especially during the middle of the day.
Use sunscreen and wear protective clothing, specifically the kind you can’t see through when held up to a light.
Wear a hat and protect your eyes with sunglasses that have 99 percent UV absorption.
Follow these rules even on cloudy days.
Avoid sun lamps and tanning beds because they can cause the same type of skin damage as the sun.

Cancer Risk No. 5: Infection

Infections from viruses, bacteria, and parasites are a known cancer risk in up to 20 percent of all cancers. Several of those viruses are sexually transmitted, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

You can reduce your risk for getting these types of viruses by using condoms during sex. Women can reduce their risk of cancer from HPV by getting a vaccine. In fact, the American Cancer Society now recommends the HPV vaccine for girls who are nine and older.

Cancer Risk No. 6: Chemical Exposure

A variety of substances found in common products are known to be a cancer cause. Two of particular interest:

Asbestos, a fibrous substance, is found in many older buildings where it was used as insulation and as a fire-retardant; inhaling it can cause cancer. So be sure to have your home checked for asbestos before beginning any sort of renovation. Carpenters and other skilled workers who deal with remodeling older homes should investigate proper safety precautions before working in buildings that contain asbestos.
Tetrachloroethylene is a solvent used in dry cleaning. While wearing dry-cleaned clothes isn’t considered dangerous, those who work in a dry cleaning business should change clothes after work, wash work clothes regularly, and keep their food out of the work area.

Cancer Risk No. 7: Consumer Products

Antiperspirants, talcum powder, hair dye, aspartame, and some cosmetics have all been reported as possible cancer causes, often incorrectly. The truth is that there is no conclusive evidence that any of these products cause cancer. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to monitor various studies and issues periodic updates.