Skin Cancer: Don’t Ignore the Signs

by Nancy L Synderman, M.D.
The irony does not escape me that as I sit down to write this article on skin cancer, I have just had my own skin cancer scare.

As is so common, I had my share of childhood sunburns. So when my dermatologist examined the small lesion on my chest, we both thought it was cancerous. Luckily, we were both wrong.

Skin cancer statistics are stunning. Every year, 3.5 million skin cancers are diagnosed in the U.S., more than the tally for all other cancers combined. The deadliest form, malignant melanoma, will kill 9,700 people this year; the next deadliest, squamous cell, has increased 200 percent in the past 30 years. Fortunately, we’ve made tremendous strides in diagnosis and treatment.

Warning Signs of Skin Cancer

Asymmetry: Half of a mole doesn’t match the other.

Border irregularity: The border is blurred or ragged.

Color: The mole has a variety of colors, often shades of brown, tan or black, with patches of pink, red, white or blue.

Diameter: Lesion is new or at least 1/4 inch in diameter.

Evolving: Mole is changing in size, shape or color.

Two technologies — MelaFind and dermatoscopy — use light waves and sophisticated data analysis to diagnose suspicious lesions. In a 2011 study, MelaFind was able to detect 98 percent of melanomas, compared with 78 percent by a dermatologist’s examination alone. Because melanoma can be difficult to diagnose in its earliest stages, when it’s most treatable, this is good news indeed.

On the treatment front, doctors are increasingly aggressive in attacking precancerous lesions with cryotherapy, phototherapy and topical chemotherapies such as trichloroacetic acid, 5-fluorouracil and ingenol mebutate.

Once a skin cancer is diagnosed, the first step is usually to surgically remove it. If that’s not possible, the Food and Drug Administration has approved, in addition to topical chemotherapies, several medications — among them, imiquimod and ipilimumab — that treat skin cancers by activating the body’s immune system.

The best treatment, of course, is to prevent skin damage in the first place. Be sure to wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 daily. And if you notice any of the American Cancer Society’s warning signs, at right, see your doctor right away.

Nancy L. Snyderman, M.D., is the chief medical editor for NBC News
http://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2014/skin-cancer-nancy-snyderman.html

Advertisements

Roasted Grape and Olive Crostini

This is my new favorite addition to the category. Although it takes longer to cook, it takes just as little time to throw together. This seemingly simple combination of two ingredients, roasted together, become so much more than the sum of their parts. Personally, I’m not a great fan of either on their own; I find most grocery store grapes too sweet and readily-available olives too aggressively salty and one-note. But in the oven together, these bugs become features. The briny bite of the olives tangles with the syrupy sweetness of the grapes and together, make a juicy mess that’s incredible with rosemary and sea salt, heaped on a ricotta-slathered toast.

The best part is you don’t have to go hunting for that exasperatingly overused phrase these days, “the best ingredients.” I’ve made this with everything from NYC street cart grapes on their last legs and from certified organic, just-plucked Greenmarket blocks away and both were delicious. It doesn’t care if your olives have been imported from Greece, Italy or Trader Joe’s, that I used a baguette from a nearby bodega that also sells enhancement pills and 40s, and that I didn’t even make my own ricotta (gasp!). It just works, which means you’ll have more time to do things you’ll regret seeing on Instagram the next morning and other great holiday party traditions.

I couldn’t resist using a pretty mix of olives and grapes, but, honestly, my favorite combination to use here are purple grapes and kalamata olives, seedless and pitted, respectively are ideal. I make it with fresh rosemary and ricotta, but other herbs and cheese would work here, such as thyme or blue cheese. The only pesky part of this recipe is that I find that the roasting time really varies. What you’re looking for is for the grapes to soften and get leaky — this can take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes depending on how firm/juicy your grapes are (softer ones take less time). I have also seen many references to grapes roasting and bursting in 10 minutes in other recipes, but have never experienced this in my oven. Once these juices muddle with the herbs and briny roasted olives, it’s all unquestionably worth it. Don’t forget to spoon any messy pan juices over the toasts.

Yield: 12 crostini, a very small batch. I usually double this for a small party.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup grapes, seedless purple ones are my first choice, all will work
1 cup olives, pitted kalamata are my first choice, all will work
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped rosemary, divided
Sea salt and red pepper flakes
About 12 baguette slices, toasted
3/4 cup ricotta

Heat oven to 400°F (205°C). Combine olive oil, grapes, olives, 1 teaspoon rosemary, a couple pinches of sea salt and pepper flakes in a baking dish or roasting pan. Roast until grapes are wilted and leaking juices, about 35 to 55 minutes, rolling ingredients around in pan a few times throughout roasting time to encourage even cooking.

Slather each toast with ricotta, then heap each with grapes, olives and their pan juices. Finish with remaining rosemary and eat immediately.

The Ultimate Anti-Inflammatory Foods List

Is an anti-inflammatory diet the answer to chronic health ailments? Researchers have found that natural anti-inflammatory foods are a critical part of a healthy diet.The Ultimate Anti-Inflammatory Foods List

One of the major dietary concerns is the specter of chronic inflammation. Regular inflammation is part of the immune system’s natural response, mobilizing the body’s resources to fight injury or infection. But when inflammation becomes chronic and persists over a long period of time, it can increase the risk of long-term illness. Diet is one piece of the complex puzzle that we can easily control – making the right nutritional choices can help us minimize inflammation and, with it, the risk of disease.

Why Choose an Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

Chronic inflammation has various potential causes, including long-term stress or illness, environmental toxins, lack of exercise, genetic predisposition – as well as too many processed foods or an otherwise poor diet. In fact, some foods are theorized to exacerbate inflammation in the body, like beef, fast food and foods that spike blood sugar, like refined flour or sugary drinks. Meanwhile, recent studies have shown that dieting and fasting may prompt an anti-inflammatory response.

Those who do not eat enough anti-inflammatory foods may be at risk for a number of chronic and long-term ailments, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and many cancers and autoimmune diseases. Luckily, simple dietary changes that include anti-inflammation foods can help prevent these conditions and boost overall wellness.

20 Best Foods for Fighting Inflammation

Incorporate more of these delicious, natural anti-inflammatory foods into your diet to promote healthy habits in yourself and your family:

1. Whole grains: Eat these to gain more fiber, which has been associated with fewer signs of inflammation. They also have a lower glycemic index, for those watching blood sugar levels.

2. Berries and tart cherries: Fruit in general is high in antioxidants, and berries in particular have anti-inflammatory properties because they contain healthy polyphenols and anthocyanins.

3. Olive oil: This plant-based fat is great for a heart-healthy diet and contains healthy oleic acid. It’s also delicious and fits in well with the Mediterranean diet.

4. Cruciferous vegetables: Vegetables in the cabbage family contain numerous nutrients, including antioxidants, which protect the body from the free radicals which can prompt inflammation.

5. Fatty fish: Cold-water fish like salmon and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have significant anti-inflammatory properties if eaten a few times a week. Those who don’t like fish may want to consider fish oil supplements instead.

6. Tomatoes: Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that may reduce inflammation in the lungs and elsewhere in the body.

7. Peppers: These, too, contain antioxidants: in this case, vitamin C. They also contain capsaicin, a chemical which reduces inflammation. Those with rheumatoid arthritis may want to be careful, though, with peppers, tomatoes and other members of the nightshade family.

8. Leafy greens: Spinach, kale and other dark leafy greens contain an abundance of healthy compounds including vitamin E, calcium, iron, and phytochemicals that help reduce inflammation.

9. Apples: Apples, like most other fruits, contain healthy phytonutrients that help protect against age-related diseases.

10. Nuts: Walnuts contain omega-3s, almonds and macadamias contain oleic acid, and nearly all nuts contain antioxidants – key ingredients in helping the body fight inflammation. Many nuts and their oils are also considered healthy fats.

11. Garlic and onions: Besides being delicious, garlic and onions contain anti-inflammatory chemicals like the antioxidant quercetin, which naturally inhibits histamine.

12. Soy and soybeans: Soy-based foods contain a high amount of vegetable-based protein, as well as isoflavones, which may help reduce inflammation in women. Avoid highly processed soy that may contain additives, and go for tofu, soymilk, and edamame.

13. Ginger and turmeric: These two spices often found in Indian food have anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric contains curcumin, a particularly potent anti-inflammatory compound. If these flavors don’t appeal to you, try supplements.

14. Carrots: Carrots are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which helps reduce free radicals in the body.

15. Low-fat dairy: Dairy can prompt inflammation in certain sensitive people, but high-quality and low-fat dairy products like good cheese and yogurt are an excellent source of protein, probiotics, and calcium.

16. Beets: Beets are one of those colorful vegetables with ample fiber, vitamin C, and phytonutrients. If you hate canned beets, make sure you give fresh beets a try – they are completely different.

17. Orange winter squash: Like carrots, orange winter squashes like the sweet butternut squash contain plenty of the antioxidant beta carotene.

18. Beans: Particularly important for those who eat little or no animal protein, beans contain lots of vegetable protein as well as fiber.

19: Sweet Potatoes: Another healthy carbohydrate, sweet potatoes also contain fiber, antioxidants, and the phytonutrient beta carotene.

20: Tea: White, green, and oolong tea in particular contain phytonutrients and flavonoids which help reduce inflammation.

For those at risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s – and for those of us who want to age as well as possible – a healthy diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can help ward off illnesses related to chronic inflammation. Even if you aren’t worried about inflammation, a diet that contains enough anti-inflammatory nutrients will also generally be heart healthy and delicious. What more can we ask for as we get older?

by: Sarah Stevenson
http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/3-2-15-anti-inflammatory-foods-list/

Nuts Are a Nutritional Powerhouse

By Jane E Brody

CreditPaul Rogers

 

Sadly, for more than half my life, I had avoided some of nature’s most perfect and healthful foods: nuts and peanuts. I had been mistakenly told as a teenager that nuts were fattening and constipating, effects I certainly wanted to avoid.

But based on what I have learned to the contrary from recent studies, I now enjoy them daily as nuts or nut butters in my breakfasts, salads, sandwiches and snacks. A baggie of lightly salted peanuts accompanies me on excursions everywhere; I even keep a jar of peanuts in my car.

A series of large studies, including the Nurses’ Health Study of 76,464 women and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study of 42,498 men, found that the more nuts people consumed, the less likely they were to die at any given age, especially of cancer or heart disease. And a clinical trial conducted in Spain showed that death rates were lower among those consuming a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra nuts.

However, these studies were conducted almost entirely among relatively well-to-do, well educated, white individuals, and despite the researchers’ care in controlling for other factors that could have influenced the results, there remained the possibility that characteristics of the participants other than nut consumption could account for their reduced death rates.

Now, strong links between nuts and peanuts and better health have also been found in a major study of people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and varied ethnic groups — blacks, whites and Asians — many of whom had serious risk factors for premature death, like smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.

The results were published in March in JAMA Internal Medicine by researchers at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Their study, conducted among more than 200,000 men and women in the Southern United States and Shanghai, found that the more nuts people consumed, the lower their death rates from all causes and especially from heart disease and stroke.

And while it is true that more people today are allergic to nuts, and to peanuts in particular, than ever before, two recent studies have pointed to ways that may prevent children from developing a nut allergy. The first study, published last year in JAMA Pediatrics, found that women who consumed the most nuts or peanuts during their pregnancies were least likely to have children with this allergy. The reduction in risk was highest among children whose mothers ate nuts five or more times a month.

The second study, published in February in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that introducing peanuts into the diets of infants 4 to 11 months old who were considered at high risk of developing a peanut allergy actually greatly reduced their risk of being allergic at age 5. The researchers, from King’s College London, suggested that the common practice of withholding peanuts from babies may in fact account for the recent rise in peanut allergies.

Guidelines issued in 2000 by the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended withholding peanuts from children at risk of developing allergies until they were 3. The academy has since revised its position, suggesting that evidence that avoiding specific foods beyond 4 to 6 months of age prevented food allergies was lacking. Now a further revision by the academy may be in order, though to prevent choking, babies should not be given whole nuts — only ground nuts or nut butters.

Before returning to the relationship between nuts and better health, I want to reassure weight-conscious readers that, when consumed in reasonable quantities, nuts are not fattening and can even help people lose weight and maintain the loss.

Yes, relatively speaking, nuts are high in fat, and fat contains more calories per gram (nine) than protein or sugar (four calories), even more than alcohol (seven calories). But a review of studies of large populations here and abroad by Richard D. Mattes of Purdue University and co-authors most often found that adults who eat nuts weigh less than nut avoiders. And children who ate peanuts usually had a lower body mass index than those who did not.

Clinical trials found that adding lots of nuts to one’s diet had a limited effect on body weight. But more important, participants instudies that included nuts in a weight-loss regimen lost more weight and ended up with a smaller waist and less body fat than participants who did not eat nuts.

One explanation for the weight control benefit of nuts is the satiation provided by their high fat and protein content, which can reduce snacking on sweets and other carbohydrates. Another is that all the calories in nuts, especially whole nuts, may not be absorbed because they resist breakdown by body enzymes.

Finally, in a 2013 study in The British Journal of Nutrition, Dr. Mattes and colleagues reported that consuming peanut butter or peanuts for breakfast helps to control hunger, stabilizing blood sugar and reducing the desire to eat for up to 8 to 12 hours. (My favorite breakfast: half a banana, sliced, with each slice topped by a half-teaspoon of crunchy peanut butter.)

As for their cardiovascular benefits, nuts are rich sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which prompted a health claim by the Food and Drug Administration that “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” Two exceptions are macadamia nuts and cashews, which have too much saturated fat to qualify for this claim.

Nuts are also rich sources of dietary fiber, and almonds, Brazil nuts, peanuts and walnuts may actually help prevent constipation, countering my long-held concerns about their effects on digestion. Other beneficial substances in nuts include vitamins, antioxidants and other phytochemicals. All of which adds up to nuts as a nutritional powerhouse.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/03/30/nuts-are-a-nutritional-powerhouse-for-rich-and-poor/?ref=health&_r=0