Prostate cancer is perhaps the most common cancer in men. It increases in incidence with age, and if you live long enough, most men will contract prostate cancer. A family history of cancer and obesity are also risk factors. But many times the cancer is so slow growing that it will not kill you. In the age of modern, aggressive medicine, the treatment has often been worse than the disease.
Treating Cancer EARLY is much more successful. The PSA test was one of the first really sensitive blood tests for cancer, and it was once performed routinely, on a yearly basis, usually at the time of your annual physical.
The PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test is VERY sensitive,however. In responding to an elevated PSA, very slow growing tumors would often be treated aggressively, creating more morbidity than the untreated tumor would have caused.
The treatment seemed to be worse than the disease. Many physicians stopped doing the PSA test altogether, relying on symptoms, or detecting an abnormality on RECTAL EXAM to trigger an investigation. Some years ago, a physician friend of mine elected to stop PSA testing, and two years later was discovered to have METASTATIC Prostate cancer. It had already spread to his bones, and he eventually died of that cancer.
This encouraged me to continue with PSA screening, though it is still considered optional. Very recently, a test has been developed which I think tips the scales back toward annual PSA testing. EXOSOMES are little (10-120 nm.) particles that effuse from many cells, especially cancer cells.
They contain a variety of DNA, RNA, proteins and lipids which allow the cells to communicate with one another. Recently, a company, ExoDx, was created to take commercial advantage of Exosomes in the diagnosis of various diseases, by testing body fluids.
Their test, ExoRx Prostate EPI test of urine, has been shown to be helpful in distinguishing AGGRESSIVE prostate cancer from the slower growing kind, when the PSA test is in the “grey zone” between 2 and 10 ng/ml. PSA test results above 10 ng. were always acted on, especially if the numbers were increasing. I would be surprised if the PSA did not reenter the annual testing protocol.
The annual digital rectal exam in men older than 50 years will continue to be done, although it is not very sensitive, and is often not abnormal until the cancer is more advanced. Pain in the prostate area, blood in the urine or semen, and trouble urinating are symptoms worth investigating, but if cancer is detected, it may well be advanced and harder to treat. With abnormal tests,
Risk factors or suspicious symptoms, further testing is often done. Ultrasound or biopsy may be indicated. Sometimes the biopsy is guided by MRI, to increase the likelihood that the cancer, if small, is included in the tissue sample taken. Examining the cells of the biopsy sample will yield a “gleason score” which grades the aggressiveness of the cancer.
This in turn dictates the treatment, which may include different extents of surgical removal, radiation, hormonal or chemotherapy treatment. None of this is pleasant, and you are better off, of course with prevention.
Our old friends, DIET AND EXERCISE are thought to be helpful. Although not proven, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and maintaining a healthy weight are recommended.
Finasteride, one of the drugs in my medicine cabinet is mentioned as a possible aid. I will be discussing this later. I suggest that you press the green box with the magnifying glass, and type the name of the drug to see if i have discussed it. –Dr. C.
COVID 19 is a nasty disease, in case you hadn’t noticed. It is SNEAKY: you can catch it from a person who has no symptoms.
It is UNPREDICTABLE: you may develop no symptoms or Die from it. It can affect any part of your body, including HEART and BRAIN.
And now we hear that it can DRAG ON. The outstanding infographic, “a multi-systems disease, which is intended for PRIMARY CARE PROVIDERS, has a lot to offer patients, who can do a lot to Care for themselves:
- –They can get a THERMOMETER and a PULSE OXIMETER to watch their own temperatures and oxygen saturations
- –They can monitor their own COMORBIDITIES, like Diabetes and HYPERTENSION, which are common with severe Covid. In patients who get very ill .
- –They can watch their GENERAL HEALTH, including SLEEP and DIET (the exercise part is relegated to DOCTORS recommendations).
You should also RESTRICT Alcohol, Caffeine and it goes without saying CIGARETTE SMOKING. Of course PREVENTION, with DISTANCING, MASKING and being Outside, coupled with SLEEP, DIET and EXERCISE is always best.
Our Nervous system is much more than consciousness and free will. Our neural networks automatically go about the job of keeping us alive without entering our awareness- unless it fails to perform.
This is true of our intestinal system, and especially our cardiovascular system. We would not have time for anything else if we had to consciously take each breath, command each heart beat, and for this discussion, open up (dilate) the blood vessels to our brain, and constrict the blood vessels in our legs whenever we stand up.
Our brains demand a constant supply of Oxygen and Glucose in order to perform their complex duties. Between 20% and 40% of the 100 Watts of energy our bodies consume is in our brains.
Whenever we stand up, the force of gravity “wants” to force our blood to our legs and away from our head. Unless that tendency is counteracted, our brains would be deprived of essential factors, and we would all have orthostatic (upright position) hypotension every time we stand up.
Normally, when the blood pressure drops from ANY CAUSE, receptors near the base of the heart and great vessels signal the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system to cause a speeding up of the heart and a dilation of the blood vessels in the brain. This compensates for the drop in blood pressure, which is determined by the blood flow and resistance to that flow.
The sympathetic nervous system is a reaction to STRESS, to a “flight or fight” decision. In the short term, it is beneficial, or adaptive. You may know the feeling, heart racing, cold hands (due to constriction of blood vessels), breathing rate increases, and sweating.
The asthmatic feels this from a shot of adrenalin, which delivers the sympathetic reaction to the whole body through the blood stream. The musculature of the bronchial tubes are relaxed, improving breathing, and improving the asthma.
What is adaptive in the short haul may be deleterious if it continues, felt as Anxiety if it lasts too long.
ORTHOSTATIC (postural) HYPOTENSION may be made worse by a variety of other influences, such as an abnormally slow heart, rate, dehydration, blood loss, certain medications and standing still too long.
Since the brain needs both Oxygen and Glucose, High altitude or a
low blood sugar will also facilitate faintness. If you have a tendency toward lightheadedness when you stand up, be careful lest you fall and injure yourself.
If you are unable to cope with these spells, a checkup with your Doctor may be in order; perhaps you have an underlying problem, such as with your heart, which is the next subject of discussion.
We ARE our brains. Reduce the function of any other organ, and we may be sick, but reduce the function of the brain, and WE have changed.
PROGRESSIVE LOSS of brain function is called DEMENTIA. A sudden, temporary (if the cause can be found) is called Delirium. A variety of bad things can cause dementia, such as infections (AIDS), toxins (lead, mercury), chemicals (alcohol), traumatic (CTE from football), diet deficiencies (B12, folic acid), Endocrine deficiencies (thyroid),Psychiatric problems (depression), drugs, and Vascular problems.
The Preceding article on dementia discussed APATHY, as opposed to the somewhat similar DEPRESSION, as a warning sign for SVD, or small blood-vessel disease. SVD is the most common VASCULAR cause of Dementia.
The most common overall cause of Dementia, especially in old age, is ALZHEIMER’S disease (AD). “Senior Moments” are so common as to be a cliche. But this problem is not limited to old age. My 3-year-old Grandson came crying to me that he lost his favorite toy. “Where was it when you last saw it”?, I asked. “It was in my hand” he answered.
He had laid it somewhere, unthinkingly. You can’t remember something unless you ENCODE it. You must be paying attention to, be “mindful” of an action if you are to remember that action.. You will not remember where you put your glasses if you wander around in “default mode”, daydreaming, preoccupied. Everybody occasionally forgets a name, or item which hangs on “the end of my tongue”.
These things, especially “short term memory” do DETERIORATE AS WE GET OLDER. It is common to wonder if we, or a loved one. are getting Alzheimer’s disease, as our mental powers wane.It is often difficult to distinguish the normal forgetfulness of age from DEMENTIA, including Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) It might be a source of REASSURANCE to realize that if you are worried about getting AD YOURSELF, you almost certainly don’t have it; It takes a lot of mental functioning to contemplate that possibility.
Most often, you will be wondering about the possibility in a loved one having AD. There are 2 ideas that I ran across in my reading that might help you do a little evaluation Yourself.
BCGuidelines.ca has a 21 item questionnaire that you can score yourself. 4 points or less is considered normal, so common is forgetfulness. 5-14 points suggests mild cognitive impairment. 15 or more points suggests Dementia, of which AD is the most common type.
The test I really liked was the “Clock Test”. In this test, you draw a large circle. You then ask your loved one to draw a clock, with all the numbers and hands that will indicate 10 minutes after 11. If it is drawn correctly, you can with reasonable certainty EXCLUDE Dementia.
If incorrect, further tests are warranted. I consulted with a Neurologist regarding a friend of mine who has marked memory loss, but is very sweet, is physically capable, takes care of herself personally, doesn’t wander around, has no apparent anxiety, depression or other psychological problems.
I asked if it was reasonable to just watch without any medical intervention. The neurologist said that she should have a blood test, a metabolic panel, TSH (thyroid), LFTs, folic acid and B12 tests, and a CT to rule out NPH (normal pressure hydrocephalus). It is rare to find anything treatable, but a shame to neglect it if present.
If you do see a doctor about a Spouse or Parent with possible dementia, you might request that they discuss the possibilities with you, but ask them not to write the diagnosis of “Alzheimer’s “ in the chart. Private Assisted Living Homes CHARGE A LOT MORE for that Diagnosis– locked facilities, more personnel and the like. BDNF- brain derived neurotrophic factor- can fend off Dementia.
That is the good news. The bad news is that it takes effort and discipline to increase your level od BDNF.; I’m sure medical science is hot on the trail of a pill. But until then, our old friends, Sleep, Diet and Exercise ride to the rescue. Sleep, both N3 and REM stages, increases BDNF. Dietary polyphenols and butyrate increase BDNF. exercise of all kinds will do it.
The BDNF gene codes for the BDNF protein, which promotes the survival, expansion, and differentiation of Neuronal stem cells, and promotes neuronal PLASTICITY, neuronal response to experience. Grit your teeth and develop the HABIT of exposing your Postmodern Body to 3 of the most ICONIC and NATURAL things mandated by Evolution, Treat your Body to the Health-giving Benefits of SLEEP, DIET and EXERCISE!
I have been having Heartburn for more than 40 years. The cause of Heartburn is leakage of acid from the stomach, where tissues have evolved to tolerate the highly acidic conditions, into the esophagus, where they haven’t.
The young body has an efficient, functional gate, or sphincter, keeping the food, once swallowed into the stomach, from coming back up. As you eat, you chew your food well to aid digestion. Your taste buds, sensing chemicals in the delicious food, activate saliva.
The salivary enzymes start the digestion of the carbohydrates in the food. If you eat slowly enough, you may be able to appreciate the digestion of tasteless starch, like in bread, into sweet sugar, right in your mouth.
You then swallow the food, which slips past another gate, called the epiglottis, diverting the bolus of food past your windpipe. This gate sometimes does not shut tight, and you choke on the food or drink. The food is then conducted into the highly acidic environment of the stomach.
The stomach evolved to be an acidic, “fiery pit”, inhospitable to any bacteria that came in with the food, thus protecting the stomach from infection. In the old days, there were a lot of bacteria, and the acidity of the stomach was useful, and evolutionarily conserved.
These days, the “fiery pit” tends to be a problem. As you get older, the gate that keeps food in the stomach gets more floppy and relaxed, and allows food to come back up into the esophagus, and sometimes, most often at night when you would rather be sleeping, all the way up to your throat, and is inhaled into your windpipe and lungs in what is called “gastroesophageal reflux”, or GERD.
Even if the food, and acid, doesn’t make it all the way up, and stops at the esophagus, which has not evolved to tolerate acid, you will have “heart burn”. Of course it is not the heart that is burning, but the esophagus, which runs right past the back of the heart as it goes all the way from the throat to the stomach.
When I first developed Heartburn, all that was available was the flavored chalk, Calcium Carbonate, sold as Tums. It works right away, and is a source of Calcium, but can cause trouble, like kidney stones, if you take too much. The relief didn’t last long enough for me, and I had to take more in the middle of the night.
My next medicine was Xantac, a medication that blocks histamine from stimulating acid production in the stomach. The H2 blockers have recently been recalled because of NDMA contamination. I sometimes used H2 blockers like Xantac when my patients would get a bad allergic reaction. In such cases BOTH an H1 blocker like Benadryl, and an H2 blocker are called for.
Zantac was not strong enough for me, and I soon graduated to Prilosec,which directly blocks the secretion of acid in the stomach.
Prilosec was then very expensive, but now is available as the inexpensive GENERIC Medication, Omeprazole. It seems that no medication is without side effects.
Omeprazole, by reducing stomach acid, makes stomach and GI infections more likely, and interferes with the absorption of B12, and Calcium.
If you have had a lot of heartburn over a long period of time, you should check with a Gastroenterologist, who may scope you to rule out Barritt’s esophagus, which can lead to Cancer.
It is interesting that the antacid Tums in excess can cause too MUCH Calcium in the body, and can cause kidney stones and other kidney problems like MAS, and Omeprazole, by interfering with absorption can cause too LITTLE absorption of Calcium, leading to OSTEOPOROSIS.
The best rule is to take as low a dose of ANY medication as possible, preferably none, to understand the possible side effects, and compensate for them if you can.
I recently posted a discussion on osteoporosis that was based on a MNEMONIC, using the word itself as the basis of exploring the Risk factors Evidence that you have Osteoporosis is hidden, and are discovered by Dexascan, or when you suddenly have a major fracture.
DEPRESSION is common, but sneaks up on you. It may be a job to discover that you have it, to DIAGNOSE it, so that you can be treated. The diagnosis has about 10 markers that can be formulated into a mnemonic, so that you can remember what they are. My favorite is by Paul Blenkiron, writing in the BMJ:
These 10 symptoms are described in the 10th edition of “the international classification of Diseases. The problem with some mnemonics is to remember the mnemonic itself.
Not here. Interestingly, The 4 PILLARS OF HEALTH are each represented in this list. 3 of them are valid TREATMENTS for DEPRESSION, as you will see in the following articles. When I looked up intellectual stimulation as a treatment for Depression, all i found was electrical or magnetic deep brain stimulation.
I can’t help but believe that INTELLECTUAL STIMULATION itself would at least help ward off much Anxiety and Depression. SLEEP has an interesting relationship to depression. Lack of sleep can be a CAUSE of Depression.
Recently, deprivation of sleep has been used to TREAT episodes of severe depression. Obviously there is a lot we don’t know. Another puzzlement is the several week delay in the effect of SSRI medications. I acknowledge that throughout history many great intellects have manic-depression, which may be key to their productivity.
Depression itself is credited with deep understanding. The “black Dog” of depression is best avoided, however. A HEALTHY LIFE STYLE SHOULD HELP WARD OFF DEPRESSION.