Modern food and cancer

Everything starts with your food- be careful!

Source: Unsplash

Interestingly, my last blog talked about nutrition needed to fight cancer. Today, I want to discuss certain foods or the way certain foods are made, as causes of cancer! Ultimately, anything we ingest does affect our bodies- one way or the other!

A lot of foods or rather “junk food” that we eat nowadays lack the basic nutrients like fiber and vitamins. They may have more appeal but studies have associated these with several diseases including cancer. But our fast lives have given ourselves an excuse of not cooking at home and indulging in bad habits. Corporate pressure, competition and tendency to extract more and more from ourselves: these habits have tired and stressed us so much that we don’t care to prioritize on eating healthy food. After dealing with day to day cat and mouse race, we are so overwhelmed that “we don’t have time to cook”. We would rather bring home some junk food or order food at the convenience of our smart phones and sofa couches.

Statistics have shown that 1 out of 3 Americans eat fast food every day. Fast food has been associated with increased evidence of obesity, cardiovascular conditions and diabetes. Obesity is a big risk factor to develop cancer.

Genetically modified foods

These foods are derived from plants which are genetically modified to withstand weather extremities, to develop resistance to pests and make them stronger to adapt to other adversities. Although there are no conclusive studies, but there are a lot of concerns whether these foods cause cancer or not! But then I also wonder that some drugs too, after decades, are found to cause detrimental effects which are not known in the beginning. Vioxx, for example, a very useful drug for arthritis and pain, was later found to cause stroke. A recent example is sudden recalls of Valsartan, Losartan, Ranitidine because they all have traces of impurity called NDMA, which is a carcinogen. So who knows, a decade later, these genetically modified foods may be found to cause something that hasn’t been found yet! Scary, isn’t it?

I wonder why are plants genetically modified! Isn’t natural way of producing crops enough for the expanding population? Or do we consume more than needed? Or is it the corporate greed to produce foods all around the year even if it may not be the right season to grow a crop?

Processed foods or “junk food”

Source: Unsplash

The more fresh the food is, the healthier it is. It has become too difficult for families to make fresh food every day. So preserved foods have been the norm these days! The various preservatives used can accumulate if these are consumed every day. Nitrates and nitrites, used as preservatives have been found as carcinogens. Additives like colors, flavors and sweeteners might make the food tastier and more attractive. But studies have shown association with mass consumption of these foods and cancer, particularly breast cancer, leukemias and even brain cancer. Besides, over consumption of processed foods may lead to obesity, cardiovascular, diabetes and metabolic disorders which all become risk factors for cancer, particularly obesity.

In order to reduce loss of crops from weeds and increased productivity, crops have been treated with excessive amounts of pesticides. All of these pesticides are nothing but CARCINOGENS! This practice is another example of human greed. Studies have shown that excessive pesticides are not only harmful to humans but also adversely affect the fertility of soil. The good bacteria in the soil needed for organic growth of crops are killed by these pesticides!

Limit consumption of sodas and coffee! Let me save this discussion for another day because I can write pages on this issue…..lol!

Meat

Source: http://www.sutterhealth.org

In general, any food that has more saturated and trans fatty acids is harmful. Red meat (beef, pork and lamb) is an example of such food. Some of the other meat/chicken items that should not be consumed in excess are chicken nuggets, bacon, corned beef, duck. All these have long chain hydrocarbons, more saturated and trans fat which cause cardiovascular problems, diabetes and obesity which is a huge risk factor for cancer. Colon cancer is associated with too much consumption of red meat.

“People who eat 50 grams of processed meat a day have a 1.18 times higher risk of cancer than those who don’t eat meat. Contrast that to smokers, who have a 20 times higher risk of developing cancer than nonsmokers. This is a far greater danger than the 18 percent increased risk for cancer associated with processed meats,” Dr. Toni Brayer (M.D., an internist with the Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation) says. We all agree that smoking is worse than eating meat but the point conveyed here is “people eating processed meats have 18% higher risk than those who don’t eat meat at all”.

Over-cooking is bad

Over cooking not only denatures proteins, vitamins and other useful nutrients, but also produces acrylamide, a carcinogen. Read more at:

https://www.nhs.uk/news/cancer/overcooked-food-and-cancer/:

“A common chemical caused by frying, roasting or grilling can double the risk of cancer in women,” The Daily Telegraph reported today. The story warns that acrylamide, a chemical contained in cooked foods including bread, coffee and breakfast cereals, and meat and potatoes that have been fried, baked, roasted, grilled or barbecued, has been directly linked to the incidence of ovarian and womb cancer.”

Moral of the story

  • Practice moderation- consuming too much of anything is harmful. Drinking too much water is also harmful….yes it’s true. We must set a limit for everything in and around us!
  • Avoid genetically modified foods. Read the labels for “Non GMO”. If possible, buy organic foods. Yes they are expensive but not as expensive as compared to acquiring dreadful diseases.
  • Avoid over-cooking
  • Avoid red meat and chicken nuggets
  • Wash fruits and vegetables gently with water to remove pesticides and dirt. Do not eat anything before washing.
  • Do not rely on junk food on a regular basis. Home made food is always fresh and healthier!

Feel free to leave comments or suggestions. Subscribe for consultations at:

https://pharmacist4u.info/contact/

Cancer and Nutrition

Source: Unsplash

Cancer- a word that can not only change a patient’s life but can also be devastating on the family. Cancer and it’s treatment can be overwhelming for patients and their families. According to http://www.cancer.gov, Cancer and it’s treatments can alter taste, smell, appetite and the ability to eat enough food or absorb the nutrients.

Without proper nutrition, the ability of a patient to fight cancer can substantially weaken. It’s like sending a malnourished soldier to a war. Even if this soldier has sofisticated weapons, he can’t operate them if he is not nourished well. Proper nutrition provides the immunity required for immuno-compromised cancer patients to fight cancer.

Malnutrition can cause the patient to be weak, tired, and unable to fight infection or finish cancer treatment. Malnutrition may be made worse if the cancer grows or spreads. Eating the right amount of protein and calories is important for healing, fighting infection, and having enough energy.

This video belongs to a foundation called “Cuddles foundation” from India. Had I not seen a program about them on TV a couple days ago, I would have probably not written this blog today. What an amazing job they do! They help children with the nourishment needed to fight cancer and also support families who cannot afford food in the course of running out of money for treatments.

Family support and love- much needed nutrition

Source: Unspash

Support from family can bring all the positivity in a patient. This positivity can really make a huge difference. The willingness to live longer makes patient’s chemos work. And then proper nutrition supports the treatment. In general, vegetables and fruits provide antioxidants and phytochemicals. Consumption of certain vegetables and fruits is linked to reduced risk of cancer. Some beans and nuts are also useful to prevent certain types of cancers including colorectal cancer. Flaxseed, olive oil and garlic are some other good nutrients to consider. Processed meat and overcooked food are not good. And let’s not forget dehydration which is caused by all oral chemo drugs like Capecitabine, Abiraterone, Everolimus and a lot of other drugs. So hydration is a key consideration for these patients besides other nutrients.

NORI (National Oncolcogy Research Institute) has detailed some important facts about methionine, Vitamin K, ketogenic diet, Selenium and other nutrients. “There are two core elements of the NORI protocol which are a methionine restricted diet and the creation of oxidative stress. A methionine restricted diet is intended to slow cancer progression and weaken cancer cells. Oxidative stress is a powerful mechanism to trigger apoptosis selectively in cancer cells. This idea is contrary to the belief that antioxidants are beneficial for cancer treatment. Current studies show that antioxidants help the survival of cancer cells.”

Read more at: https://nutritionaloncology.net/nori-protocol?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIh5qX4YOV5gIVS9bACh2-aQNYEAAYAiAAEgKr8_D_BwE

To summarize: consult a nutritionist and have a good nutrition plan to help fight cancer. Above all, a healthy support, good nutrition, some aerobic exercise and a positive mind can cure all the cancers of life! A negative mindset is self-destructive anyways and doesn’t need any cancer to kill oneself. Feel free to submit your queries and questions and we will do our best to provide you the answers.

https://pharmacist4u.info/contact/

Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!

What a festival is Thanksgiving! If we think about our lives, how we got here and how we will get where we want, there are so many people we owe “Thank you”!

I want to take this opportunity to thank my family, friends, professors, mentors , peers, subordinates and of course, my blog-followers. Without these people, I wouldn’t be what I am today. I find myself so fortunate to be blessed to have these people in and around my life. And of course, thanks to that Almighty, that conferred the humbleness to me to follow the wisdom of these great people.

Gratitude and health

Source: ggsc.berkeley.edu

There is an excellent study published by Harvard University about correlation of gratitude and good health. How being thankful or grateful leads to better health?

“The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways gratitude encompasses all of these meanings. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals — whether to other people, nature, or a higher power.”

“Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote lol about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.”

Read more:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier

The article clearly illustrates the work of some researchers who established through their studies that people expressing gratitude are very positive in life and thus healthier. Sometimes I feel like science is just a testimony to common sense. Saying thank you is something that we were all taught by our parents, grand parents, teachers and our gurus. By expressing gratitude, one is not only making other feel great but also making oneself look generous and greater. There is no bigger reward than a plain “Thank you”.

Be thankful, happy and healthy

So my dear friends, if you feel like you have never got anything from anyone, I am afraid to say that you are wrong. Life is a journey and the success to reach its destination depends on a lot of factors including people. So it is so impossible to lead a successful life without people or their interventions. Bottom line: We all owe a Thank you to someone if not everyone. On this auspicious holiday, let’s thank everyone that we think are a vital part of our lives. Let’s leave our egos aside and bow to those people who changed our lives and made us positive. Let’s at least thank to that Almighty for keeping us healthy and happy!

Have a great weekend friends! And Thank you for reading and following “Over the Counter” blogs. Please feel free to subscribe for FREE for any advice on any health related issues at:

https://pharmacist4u.info/contact/

Counseling points for Diabetes management

People with diabetes need a lot of discipline in terms of diet, exercise and adherence to their medications. Not having a good balance of any one of these can complicate the disease and may lead to severe consequences. So as a healthcare provider and a certified diabetes education, I present the following tips helpful for caregivers:

  • Type 1 Diabetics must test blood sugar at least 3 times per day in addition to testing before meals for insulin dosage determination as directed by your physician. First reading must be fasting (right after you wake up), the other 2 or 3 readings (postprandial) must be taken 2 hours after breakfast, lunch and/or dinner.
  • Continuous glucose monitoring or CGM is recommended in most cases of diabetes 1, especially kids. This set of devices measure sugar throughout the day and can alert the patient or parents if blood glucose goes beyond the set range. Most insurances cover them and most patients get copay assistance from manufacturers. Talk to your doctor for a prescription. Ask your pharmacist about copays. Dexcom for example, is growing popularity simply because of its ease of use and once daily calibration requirement.
  • Type 2 Diabetics must test blood at least 1-2 times per day. Fasting and one post-prandial.
  • People on insulin pump or severe cases of juvenile diabetes must test more frequently as directed by your doctor. These are ideal cases for CGM.
  • Keep a log of your blood sugar readings. Use “Daily blood glucose monitoring” function in Glucocious app to email your results to yourself or your doctor.
  • Know your A1C value. It is important to test A1C every 3, 6 or 12 months depending on the severity of the condition.
  • Always carry Glucagon Kit with you, especially school going kids or juveniles.
  • Keep glucose tablets or other form of immediate sugar in your pocket as a rescue in case you feel dizziness, palpitations, sweating, headache or have other symptoms of hypoglycemia.
  • You should eat smaller meals but can eat more frequently. Make sure your meals are consistent every day.
  • Please record any discrepancies in your diet or physical activity in the blood sugar log.For example: If you ate a Pizza today, write it down on the log sheet. Or if you ate an ice cream after dinner, document it. It is important to note these irregularities so your doctor can relate the significantly different glucose readings to these diet changes.
  • Scientific studies have proven that brisk walking is one of the top most calorie burning exercise besides sprinting. Brisk walking for 15-20 minues per day will help you control your diabetes on a long run.
    Please note that people with heart disease, respiratory disease, chest pain and shortness of breath must be cautious while exercising. Do not continue if symptoms present.
  • Measure ketones in urine. Do not exercise if ketones are high. Learn more about Ketoacidosis in Glucocious app or any good diabetes literature.
  • It is very important to be adherent to your medications daily on time. Missing a single dose can shoot up the blood sugar and may even become life-threatening.
  • It may be harder to control your blood sugar during times of stress, illness or infection. Make a note of abnormal readings in your log about your illness so your doctor can understand the reason.
  • Ask your doctor if you are or going to be pregnant or breastfeeding. Benefits/risks need to be evaluated with your doctor. Avoid alcohol in diabetes.
  • It is very important to consult a cardiologist, nephrologist, podiatrist, ophthalmologist and a nutritionist to prevent any complications from diabetes. Ulcers in feet or other extremities have led to amputations. Damages in retina have led to blindness. Kidney failure is also a big concern for uncontrolled blood sugar.
  • Prevent conditions like FLU, Pneumonia, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Whooping cough, Shingles, etc by getting these vaccines from your pharmacist or doctors. All of these vaccines are covered by your insurances in countries like US. These vaccines are considered as part wellness visits. I hope there could be similar awareness in India where providers are not very proactive in immunization.
  • Learn proper injection techniques from your pharmacist. Check CONSULT A PHARMACIST section in Glucocious app.

Is diabetes an Inflammatory condition?

Source: Getty images

Diabetes is such a widespread disease and is talked about so much everyday and everywhere. And still, I see patients on a daily basis who don’t take it seriously. Diabetes should be dealt with a lot of discipline . I am not gonna describe what diabetes is, what the symptoms are, keto acidosis, etc, etc. All of this info is available in a lot of published literature, books or online. What I want to talk about, is Diabetes type 2 and Inflammation! Yes, diabetes type 2 is also an inflammatory disease.

Diabetes type 2 is a condition where insulin resistance develops because of inflammatory conditions. This inflammation is in turn linked to obesity. According to a study, metabolic disorders range from a spectrum of undernourished to overnourished conditions. Undernourished people get susceptible to infections due to low immunity. Whereas over nourishment can lead to obesity which in turn can lead to inflammatory response, insulin resistance, diabetes, atherosclerosis and many more. Other factors like sedentary life style and mental stress can also lead to obesity.

People with chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, hepatitis C or other conditions may have more susceptibility towards developing diabetes type 2. These conditions combined with obesity and stress can all stimulate cytokines, macrophages and other inflammatory mediators which can inhibit Insulin sensitivity of insulin receptors. Cancer is another condition which is linked to development of diabetes type 2.

More on inflammation: https://pharmacist4u.info/what-is-inflammation/

Your diabetes coach- Glucocious app

Glucocious is an app that highlights the importance of moderating inflammation. Use of supplements like Omega-3, foods rich in omega-3 like “mung beans” and other anti-inflammatory supplements is detailed in this app. The app mentions some anti-oxidants that also play an important role in controlling inflammation. The app also provides handy consultation from a homeopath for managing diabetes and other chronic conditions. Glucocious helps you keep track of your numbers with the blood pressure- blood sugar log tracker.

Overall, striking a good balance in nutrition, regular physical exercise, education on diabetes, knowing your numbers, use of anti-inflammatory supplements and regular check up with your doctor are some of the good habits that will prevent obesity, stress and inflammation. Controlling inflammation will prevent diabetes type 2 and a lot of other inflammatory conditions.

Mental disorders- a wake up call!

It’s okay to talk about it- please don’t gossip!

Source: Mental disorder- Wikipedia

Back in the days, a person mumbling to himself or herself or depressed or schizophrenic or even having bed-wetting (nocturnal enuresis) problem used to become a subject of gossip or sympathy. And that person had to deal with embarrassment on a day to day life. Several other psychiatric problems like anxiety, bipolar disorder, GAD etc were never taken seriously. This is back in the days when there wasn’t enough research, diagnostic tools or awareness. What’s shameful is the fact that it’s still a STIGMA in certain societies! That makes me wonder about the uneducated behavior of the otherwise educated societies.

A personal s..t…t…tory!

Source: huffpost.com

Are you serious? I am so happy to see this that there is a day called “International Stuttering Awareness Day”. I wish people were aware when I was in high school and in my speech on Mother’s Day, I went berserk with my speech: “All mothers are g…o…o…o..o…d mothers”. And my friends who were also competitors broke out into thunderous laugh. I saw them blow out their laughs and I almost had tears in my eyes but I had to finish the speech. Later I found 2 friends in freshman year of college who were also stutterers and for the first time, I felt better that there are people like me. I am eager to get their reactions after they read this blog.

A piece from psychcentral.com: “The idea that stuttering is a brain disorder in the same category as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is very controversial,” says Gerald Maguire, M.D., assistant clinical professor and director of residency training in the department of psychiatry at the University of California at Irvine. , a stutterer. In fact, there has been a push to recategorize stuttering as something other than psychiatric. “Some feel it attaches a stigma to a disorder that’s already very misunderstood by most,” Maguire said.

Some stats….

1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year

1 in 5 Indians May suffer from depression in their lifetime. Due to the stigma associated with mental illness, a lack of awareness, and limited access to professional help, only 10-12% of these sufferers will seek help. (Source: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/04/5-charts-that-reveal-how-india-sees-mental-health/)


1 in 25 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year

1 out of 8 emergency department visits are due to mental illness or substance abuse

Suicidal rates are 4 times in Lesbian, gays and bisexual individuals.


Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34

Read more on: https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers

These are some mind-blowing stats and facts. Please take mental disorders seriously before they become ominous and threatening.

Ripple effect

As mentioned in the article from National Alliance on Mental Illness, people with mental disorders can have:

  • Increased risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disorders
  • Substance abuse disorder
  • Higher rate of unemployment
  • High school students dropping out
  • Suicide in youths

Celebrities vow to reduce stigma

Source: zedge.net

It’s so cool when Virat Kohli backed up Glenn Maxwell’s decision to take a break from his job on grounds of mental health issues. What Glenn did is remarkable….Kohli says. That he didn’t hide from the world and why should he! Glen wants to take care of his health issue and then come back stronger! Read this link:

https://www.indiatoday.in/sports/cricket/story/virat-kohli-mental-health-glenn-maxwell-break-2014-england-tour-1618452-2019-11-13

A top Bollywood actress, Deepika Padukone runs a foundation called “The Live Love Laugh Foundation” that aims to create awareness of mental illness and reduce the stigma associated with it, with a particular focus on stress, anxiety and depression.

To summarize….

Mental disorders are on the rise. Why do you think the suicidal tendencies keep going up since 2001? Is it due to the pressure created by corporates to perform more and more? Is it due to schools demanding more and more from students? Is is due to the peer pressure of societies? Or is it the due to loneliness or self-centered culture that prohibits people to interact with people?

A few questions to answer to get solutions to improve our mental status. Are we mentally fit to live in this world with ever growing expectations? How can we prevent tragedies where mentally unstable people take on arms and claim lives? Can we take steps to spread awareness so people with mental disorders can come forward to get help? Modern research and studies have proven that counseling helps. Medications may be added to supplement counseling to help treat the mental disorders.

Please show vigilance, empathy and support to cure mental illnesses.

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/November-2019/Things-Not-to-Say-to-a-Parent-of-a-Child-with-Ment

What’s your screen time!

Demon of the 21st century- A self inflicted pain

Source: healthhub.sg

Let’s not talk about decades when we used to play outdoors the whole day and there were only 2 TV channels to watch. We looked forward to every Saturday to watch SpiderMan and Star Trek on Sunday. Just a few years ago, before the invention of smart phones, parents used to play “Little Einstein” or “Sesame Street” or “Mickey’s Clubhouse” for their little children and would love watching themselves too. Parents and children both watched the TV together and laughed together. During this TV hour, they interacted with each other, discussed and had a great family time. Then there were these board games that kept the entire family engaged in playing and exercising their intelligence. And then of course, the famous bedtime stories from story books! Fast forward a few years and today, looks like a different and weird world!

Today, parents and children are both found submerged in this mania! Cell phones and tablets have become the norm of keeping children quiet in restaurants, public places or even social events. In fact, adults too are found deeply dived into their social media pages updating about their current statuses….lol! I mean who cares, what dish you ate today, what place you visited today or what clothes you wore! What a show off! What a breach of your own privacy! Why don’t we instead have that social interaction amongst ourselves and teach kids how to enjoy life without depending on these gadgets.

Do our kids use gadgets as Phones or multi-media?

Nowadays, every parent wants to gift their 5th graders a flashy smart phone for their protection in case of emergencies. But, why do we let kids play games for hours? Why do they have phones next to them at home? Why so many text messages? Why should teenagers have social media accounts? They don’t have time to finish their homework and assignments but……! Do you ever monitor their screen times? Don’t be shocked because we are the ones who taught them all this and giving them the access to these dangerous toys in their vulnerable ages.

Why do we let these electronic devices enslave us? We spent hours poking on “likes” without reading the posts, giving “thumbs” and even copy-paste birthday and anniversary wishes but we do not have time to call a friend in months. And the millions of games that we all get addicted to…wow! Where is the time to call our family and friends? Look at this picture….hahaha!

Source: https://images.app.goo.gl/yMdJ5WF7hAPcFP9CA

‘Smartphone Blindness,’ And Other Health Hazards Of Our Favorite Gadgets

Alice G. Walton, Senior Contributor, Healthcare

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2016/06/24/smartphone-blindness-and-other-health-hazards-of-our-favorite-gadgets/

Serious health and behavioral hazards:

1) Depression- due to Lack of social activity

2) Eye strain, Headache, Fatigue and Stress- due to Overworking of cranial and optic nerves

3) Poor sleep patterns- due to Abusing gadgets for long hours

4) Muscle stiffness and in-coordination- due to Sitting in one position for hours

4) Car accidents- due to Texting while driving

5) Obesity, Diabetes and Cardiovascular- due to physical inactivity, sofa-ridden life style and irregular eating

6) Other researched developmental and psycho-neurological disorders like awkwardness in public, shyness to talk, incompatibility issues with others, inability to focus in school, fear of exams, fear of dealing with challenges, etc

While I personally love the technology and the convenience they offer, they should not be abused. Even the makers of these gadgets didn’t intend to cause health hazards and alarming developmental issues in children and adults. I urge my audience to practice resistance to these machines, lead their kids by example so they can live a better life and independent of any gadget.

And for God’s sake, don’t take your million selfies while walking down the hallways…😂

Epidemics of Preventable diseases???

Get immunized or hospitalized, your choice!

Source: Indiatoday.in

So! It took the great Big B to campaign against Polio and now India is literally Polio free. But that’s just one disease. What about children still being hospitalized for FLU, pneumonia, tetanus, diphtheria, meningitis? What about adults and elderly who cough up to death? Who to blame? People or doctors!

People are admitted to hospitals for FLU, pneumonia, shingles, diphtheria, meningitis! They refuse to get the vaccine and then agree to spend hundreds of thousands in hospitals. Even after this, there is no guarantee of survival depending on how severe the condition and the complications! In most cases, people are responsible for this adamant behavior but in some cases, people aren’t even educated by their healthcare providers. They don’t know that one shot can prevent the suffering, hospitalization and even death.

An article published by NIH states that Pneumococcal disease is like a burden and it’s prevention is urgent. There is a lot of cost and stress associated with pneumonia. And if not controlled, can infect the patient’s family members.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6503715/

Almost everyone (including me) got chicken pox in their childhoods. Guess what! They are all susceptible to get Shingles, a painful condition which affects eyes, face or even other parts of the body. Most of these diseases cause enormous pain, trauma, hospitalizations and even deaths. Not only patients are affected, but since they are contagious, family members can get sick too! It’s so important to get adults vaccinated with Tdap in households where a baby is going to be born because infants do not get this vaccine till 2 months after birth.

Initiative from healthcare providers

Source: https://m.timesofindia.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/the-importance-of-flu-vaccination-and-associated-myths/articleshow/70316540.cms

In India, education and awareness are a big opportunity. This is where primary care or family doctors must play a vital role. In India, the concept of annual check up almost doesn’t exist. So there is nothing like wellness visit where doctors can offer them the vaccines. Patients visit the doctors only when they get sick….period! And that’s why a mass campaigning about primary care and immunization is a must in India. Meanwhile, the doctors or healthcare providers must take it to themselves to educate every sick patient that comes to see them.

India and the world

Source: times of India.com

Unlike people in countries like US, people of India are not aware of vaccines to prevent several diseases. Rural or urban, the ideology of prevention is not as prevalent as in other countries. As a matter of fact, India is behind Bangladesh or China in this aspect. So it’s not about being Western or Eastern, it’s all about prioritizing. As we all saw, when India prioritized eradicating Polio, they were successful. They need to figure out how to educate masses on immunizations.There are countries that create so much awareness and educate the masses about preventing something like HPV infections which are so dreadful in growing adolescents. There is so much research going on to create vaccines for conditions like HIV, cancer and even diabetes! So there is a lot of opportunity for India to cope up with developed nations in this aspect. India, being an emerging global leader, must develop strategy towards Prevention of communicable diseases.

In US, access to vaccines has dramatically improved since the retail pharmacy giants like Walgreens got themselves in the business of Immunization. FLU shots are offered as early as August till end of FLU season and other vaccines are offered all year around. So, millions of people are vaccinated everyday with one or the other vaccine. There are a lot of government clinics where people can get their shots for free.

Myths and Barriers….hmm

Source: rati-fi.com

Many myths and barriers around immunizations:

1) Vaccines don’t work- Trying to defy science

2) Vaccines are not safe- Rumors

3) Vaccines cause bowel disease – https://www.ibms.org/resources/news/vaccine-preventable-diseases-on-the-rise/- This claim was debunked by the scientific community

4) Vaccines cause Autism- Vaccine Autism Scandal from decades ago

5) Vaccines can actually make someone sick- How? On the contrary, vaccines activate your immune system to store immunity and use it when needed.

6) Religious barriers- No comments!

Because of all these myths and barriers, a lot a anti-vaxxers started propagandizing against vaccines. Hence, there has been a significant rise in preventable diseases lately. The WHO has reported that the number of measles cases reported in the first three months of 2019 has quadrupled in comparison to cases reported at the same time in 2018, with the Ukraine, India and Madagascar being the worst affected.

So, to sum up, do not be a anti-vaxxer. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist and get your shots today!

“The ideal thing would be to have a 100 percent effective AIDS vaccine. And to have broad usage of that vaccine. That would literally break the epidemic.”- Bill Gates

Health care, Seriously!!!

“A bitter pill to swallow”

Source: the statesman.com

I am a vital part of the healthcare system of America and we often blame the system for so many things and rightly so! Talking about the Medicare coverage gap, deductibles and coinsurances, restrictions of choices of doctors, access of primary care and the inflated costs of medical care as well as medications- am I right?May be missed a few other things! But when I experienced the healthcare in the world’s biggest democracy, I was so shocked and frustrated! Yes I am talking about Indian healthcare system. Today’s blog will discuss only about lack of empathy by some doctors and not cover the entire healthcare system.

Till a couple decades ago we used to hear in the news about kidneys being robbed. But in today’s age , for me to hear that needles are being reused on several patients in highly reputed hospitals is quite shocking.

An elderly woman,who is a patient of COPD, diabetes and Congestive heart failure got contracted with influenza. She went to a doctor who also confirmed FLU on basis on signs and symptoms but he decided not to prescribe her anything. Two days later , she was rushed to ER. Her FLU got worse, complicated her COPD and her Oxygen saturation got so low that she was breathless. Don’t ask me what happened in the hospital (that’s another story for another day) but the woman is fine now!

A Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Patient:

http://sphweb.bumc.bu.edu/otlt/MPH-Modules/PH/RespiratoryHealth/RespiratoryHealth5.html

For me, as a healthcare provider or as a pharmacist, it’s so vital that COPD patients must have an inhaler of corticosteroid/bronchodilator and an inhaler of short acting bronchodilator. But I guess, some doctors on India do not think so! I have researched the medical standards and protocols of Indian medical care and they too run parallel with the protocols in US. So what are these doctors doing? Shame on their medical practice! And what about the doctor who didn’t prescribe Tamiflu in the first place, waited for the patient to get critical and be hospitalized and then eventually administer Tamiflu for Influenza! Is this intentional or ignorance? If intentional, then I am not shy of calling it greed or corruption.

Duplicate medications from different manufacturers:

Source: Squawkfox.com

So this is another chapter of the “chapter doctors”. One will write Nodosis and other will write Sobisis- both are different brands for sodium bicarbonate. The funny part is that the first doctor referred the second one and yet both prescribe their own brands knowing that the patient already has the other one! This is a white collar loot! They get cuts from Pharma and pharmacies for prescribing their brands besides getting the referral cuts from the original doctor (that used to be a staggering 40%!). Imagine how can poor and low middle class people tackle these! A recent example that came to my attention was Septa Q 10(Co Q 10). It costs Rs 5000 odd for 50 pills whereas there are so many other generics of this supplement ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 1000 for 60 capsules. Even in US, which is thought of being the most expensive country for medicines, it costs about $15 for a bottle of 60 capsules which is equivalent to be about Rs 1000 in Indian currency. Doctors need to be empathetic with patients’ socioeconomic statuses. Please stop being self centered, arrogant and careless.

India- a country known for medical tourism! A lot to do with a great leader in place!

http://www.eturbonews.com

India, known for all of its good reputation, is a known global medical tourism spot for various reasons. India has produced world renowned doctors, researchers, procedures and treatments. I am proud to see so many Indian doctors doing so well in US and other countries. They have a strong work ethic and very pragmatic in their approach which I think makes them great Practitioners. Above all, the cost of treatments, surgeries and procedures is so affordable for people in western world that they often are willing to opt to go to Indian hospitals. Indian 5-star hospitals are so inexpensive as compared to a regular hospital in western world especially to people who have no health insurance.

Source: http://www.indiatoday.in

Today, India has got such a great leader who has brought such dramatic changes in a matter of few years. Today, corruption is being brought under control. Remember it’s a country of 1.3 billion people, so you cannot eradicate corruption right away. It will take another decade of Modi administration to have a good control on corruption but I can definitely feel that it’s a lot better than what it used to be in 6 decades of independent India. Mr Modi has been instrumental in optimizing Indian healthcare in several ways. Poor people have got most incentives. They can get their treatments for free! This is a dream come true because for a country to be a successful entity, the poor people must be given the first consideration.

So, coming back to our discussion of our so-called doctors, it’s so important that why realize their role in this modern India and forget their traditional ways of practicing medicine. India cannot tolerate a black sheep or gamble at stake it’s reputation of being a global medical tourist spot, because of such careless and arrogant doctors. Do not make us ashamed but make us feel proud! This is coming straight from the heart of an NRI (non-resident Indian). “Vande Materam and I will continue swallowing these bitter pills till I get some sweet ones.”

http://www.pinterest.com

Happy Diwali to all my Indian brothers and sisters!

Drug operated society: Humans or guineapigs!

‘Performance-enhancing drugs have become the key to bulging biceps and on-screen six-packs, as the pressure for stars to shape up fast leads actors (but not “Man of Steel’s” Henry Cavill, who bulked up naturally) to opt for a “shortcut.”’

Source: https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/hollywood-steroid-use-a-list-609091

Decades ago, when people faced some psychological problems, performance issues or other minor health concerns, they sorted them out through non-pharmacological methods. By practicing self-control, discipline in food, drinks and physical activities, refraining from indulgence in bad habits, a lot of socio-psychological, obesity and performance issues were cured or controlled! What about this age? People are educated and hence there is a lot of awareness of medical conditions and treatments. That’s supposed to be good but are we trending in the right direction!

CNS Stimulants (ADD/ ADHD drugs’ abuse)

Source: American addiction center

This is a big problem! Students are seeking CNS stimulants like Amphetamines to stay awake to help them study for longer hours during exams and help them concentrate. Some students even take caffeine tablets which are sold over the counter in pharmacies for that purpose. These drugs are supposed to cure serious Attention deficit problems in patients affected by this condition. So why do these students abuse them? Do the prescribers educate them about the potential side effects before prescribing them? Do doctors counsel them about practicing good habits needed for studying or concentrating? If these students can manage their time well, then do they need to stay awake during nights?

I don’t want to sound too “old school” but I guess, parents are too modern to find time for their kids these days! I remember, back in those days, I used to wake up early in the mornings to study for exams. My mother used to wake me up, make me breakfast and tea while I was brushing my teeth, saw me getting breakfast and then made sure I started studying. This was the care and attention in those days about a few decades ago! I didn’t know what ADD or ADHD meant!

Source: Adderall addiction support

Anorexiants’ abuse

This is the world where everyone wants to show off their outer beauty, isn’t it! Most women and men want to cut down their waists and get that perfect shape….lol! Sorry for the lol but again, I mean, why would they not have control on what they eat, how they eat and do physical activity and rather choose short cuts of taking pills! These anorexiant pills are also CNS stimulants like Amphetamines. These pills can make you starve and malnourished. But I guess, the competition for outer beauty has overtaken wisdom or constitutional approach!

Source: indiatimes.com

Anabolic steroids’ abuse (Machomania!)

Yes! I call it machomania! These men wanna be like Rambo or Terminator…..hilarious! They pursue this dream to an extent that they even start taking something that completely shocked me when I first saw it…..Anastrazole! Anastrazole is an anti-estrogen drug used to be treat breast cancer in women. It was mind- boggling when I first saw a cocktail or testosterone and Anastrazole. I first thought that it’s a serious mistake, so I called doctor’s office to clarify it. I was told that he is prescribed the two to enhance his testosterone and gave me a diagnosis of hypogonadism.

I couldn’t understand the logic here and I kept wondering why this person is trying to boost testosterone production with Anastrazole when the person looks perfectly normal. I could see that his muscles were tearing off his clothes so how is he hypogonadic! Then I saw more prescriptions coming and this trend continued from a few doctors’s offices. It doesn’t take too much for such trends to gain popularity but thanks to our pharmacists who create that check point and try to control this macho-mania! This treatment can literally kill men in a few years. Performance enhancement short cuts can cut short your life.

To summarize, pills are not necessarily the solution for everything. Taking pills without considering long-term harmful effects can be detrimental. Ask your grandparents for some “old school” methods to overcome some of the psychological issues which we think are psychiatric. After all: “man made drugs so use them humanely”.