Category Archives: health’

Throat cancer symptoms: Are you at risk? Six signs to watch for – including a sore throat

Throat cancer, also known as laryngeal cancer, tends to be more common in people over the age of 60.

But the important thing to note about this type of cancer, is the symptoms may be linked to those of the common cold.

But how can you differentiate between the two? The NHS lists six symptoms of the disease. These include:

A change in your voice, such as sounding hoarse

Pain when swallowing or difficulty swallowing

A lump or swelling in your neck

A long-lasting cough

A persistent sore throat or earache

In severe cases, difficulty breathing

The health body says some people may also experience other symptoms, such as bad breath, breathlessness, a high-pitched wheezing noise when breathing, unexplained weight loss, or fatigue (extreme tiredness).

The exact cause of laryngeal cancer is not known, but there are lifestyle factors that can put you at increased risk of developing the disease.

These are smoking tobacco, regularly drinking large amounts of alcohol, having a family history of head and neck cancer, having an unhealthy diet, and exposure to certain chemicals and substances, such as asbestos and coal dust.

The NHS advises: “By adopting a healthy lifestyle, including avoiding alcohol and tobacco, you can significantly reduce your chances of developing laryngeal cancer.”

It adds you should visit your GP if you have had any of the main symptoms for more than three weeks.

A sore throat can also be a sign of another cancer – thyroid cancer.

The disease affects the thyroid gland, a small gland at the base of the neck that produces hormones.

While it’s considered a rare type of cancer, the symptoms shouldn’t be overlooked.

Cancer Research UK lists the main symptoms as a lump in your neck, a hoarse voice, and a sore throat or difficulty swallowing.

Unusually symptoms of thyroid cancer are frequent loose bowel movements or going red in the face.

These are caused by too much of the hormone calcitonin, made by the medullary thyroid cancer cells – medullary thyroid cancer is a rare type of thyroid cancer.

There are four things that can increase your risk of developing thyroid cancer, according to Bupa:

Exposure to radiation, particularly if this was at a young age. This includes both accidental exposure and medical exposure (radiotherapy)

Having non-cancerous thyroid disease, such as an enlarged thyroid or inflammation of your thyroid

Inherited genetic conditions. These include multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 or a bowel condition called familial adenomatous polyposis

Other people in your close family with thyroid cancer

A man’s earache turned out to be deadly throat cancer

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How to live longer: Eat half an avocado this many times week to slash prostate cancer risk

How to live longer is a question many people wished they knew the answer to.

Quitting smoking can cut your risk of dying from cancer related to smoking and slash your risk of stroke.

And alongside exercise, eating a healthy, balanced diet is crucial to helping you live longer, according to the NHS.

One food recommended by medical consultant Dr Sarah Brewer and dietitian Juliette Kellow is avocado.

The pair say the popular fruit is loaded with good fats that lower cholesterol and protect against wrinkles. They are also packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals that help with everything from keeping eyes healthy to regulating blood pressure.

So how often should you eat them?

In their book titled ‘Eat Better Live Longer’, Dr Brewer and Ms Kellow recommend eating half an avocado three to four times a week.

They write: “Although avocados have many health benefits, remember that they are high in calories.”

The duo go on to list avocados’ numerous health benefits.

Improves prostate health

In lab-based tests, lutein [found in avocados] reduced the growth of prostate cancer cells by 25 per cent.

The same study found lycopene reduced cell growth by 20 per cent. Combining lutein and lycopene resulted in an even larger reduction in cell growth.

Dr Brewer and Ms Kellow advise: Enjoy a salad of lycopene-rich tomatoes and lutein-containing avocado to protect against prostate cancer.

Reduces cholesterol

Adding avocado to diets has been shown to reduce total cholesterol LBD (bad) cholesterol) and triglycerides, while also boosting HDL (good) cholesterol.

The women write: “These heart-heathy benefits are most likely thanks to avocados being high in monounsaturated fat.

“Avocados also contain heart-friendly phytosterols such as beta-sitosterol, which help to lower blood cholesterol levels.”

Banishes wrinkles

One study of people over 70 found a good intake of monounsaturated fats were linked to fewer wrinkles; almost two thirds of the fat in an avocado is monounsaturated.

Dr Brewer and Ms Kellow add: “Avocados also contain vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps protect against cell damage to the skin, for example from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays.”

Another food recommended for longevity is blueberries

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Arthritis pain: Have a warm bath to ease symptoms – but how long for?

Arthritis pain affects the joints, most commonly in the hands, spine, knees and hips.

Symptoms vary on the type you have, but joint pain, tenderness and stiffness, inflammation in and around the joints, restricted movement of the joints, warm, red skin over the affected joint, and weakness and muscle wasting, are the usual signs.

There’s no cure for arthritis, but the NHS lists prescribed medications under treatment, which includes painkillers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and corticosteroids.

Some health experts recommend more natural remedies to ease arthritis pain, such simple changes to diet, as well as exercise.

Soaking in warm water is also one of the oldest forms of alternative therapy.

“Research shows our ancestors got it right. It makes you feel better. It makes the joints losers. It reduces pain and it seems to have a somewhat prolonged effect that goes beyond the period of immersion,” Bruce E.Becker, director of the National Quatics & Sports Medicine Institute at Washington State University, told Arthritis Foundation.

Soaking in warm water works. It reduced the force of gravity that’s compressing the joint, offers 360-degree support for sore limbs, can decrease swelling and inflammation and increase circulation.

But how long should you soak in a warm bath for?

Dr Becker added that patient’s he’s studied seem to reach a maximum benefit after about 20 minutes.

You should also make sure you drink water before and afterward to stay well hydrated.

Arthritis Foundation recommends that the temperature of the water be between 33.3 degrees Celsius and 37.7 degrees Celsius.

If you have cardiovascular problems you should beware of water that’s too hot as it can put stress on the heart.

It adds: “Warm water is great for relaxing, but it is also good for moving.

“Warm water stimulates blood flow to stiff muscles and frozen joints, making a warm tub or pool an ideal place to do some gentle stretching.”

One of the most common types of arthritis is osteoarthritis. But what are the symptoms?

There are six symptoms to watch out for, according to the NHS. These include:

Joint tenderness

Increased pain and stiffness when you have not moved your joints for a while

Joints appearing slightly larger or more “knobbly” than usual

A grating or crackling sound or sensation in your joints

Weakness and muscle wasting (loss of muscle bulk)

The health body adds: “If you have osteoarthritis in your knees, both your knees will usually be affected over time, unless it occurred as the result of an injury or another condition affecting only one knee.

Adding this fish dinner to your diet could reduce signs of rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis

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Stomach bloating: Drink this much water a day to reduce swelling and stop excess wind

Bloating is often caused by gas or trapped air in the abdomen, and there are certain foods that can promote this.

The NHS recommends cutting down on foods known to cause excess wind and bloating – and there are six to be watchful of.

Beans, onions, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts and cauliflower are all known for causing these symptoms.

If you don’t eat these specific foods very often, but still suffer from bloating, there is a more general diet change you can make.

According to Holland & Barrett, your first step should be to see your GP to rule out anything more serous such as coeliac disease or irritable bowel syndrome, particularly if you’ve been suffering for several months.

But one of the key things to do to beat bloating is to stay well hydrated.

The high street health shop states that constipation is a major cause of bloating and could be triggered by something as simple as not drinking enough fluids.

It explains “This can slow your system down, and make your stool too hard to pass.”

So how much water should you drink a day?

Aim to drink 1.5 litres a day, and cut down on hydration ‘robbers’ like caffeine, alcohol, and fizzy or sugar drinks.

If you’re looking to swap out beans, onions, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts and cauliflower for other foods, what can you eat instead? Health experts at Healthline offer some alternatives.

Beans swap

Most beans contain sugars called alpha-galactoside, which belong to a group of carbohydrates called FODMAPs. These escape digestion and are then fermented by gut bacteria in the colon. Gas is a byproduct of this process.

But some beans are easier on the digestive system, the website states.

It goes on to recommend pinto beans and black beans, especially after soaking.

Onions swap

Cooking onions may help reduce their bloating effects, advises Healthline.

But if you’re looking for an alternative, try using fresh herbs or spices.

Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables swap

Cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, cabbage, garden, cress, bok choy and Brussels sprouts, and while they contain many essential nutrients, they also contain FODMAPS.

Healthline says cooking cruciferous vegetables may make them easier to digest, but you can swap them for spinach, cucumber, lettuce, sweet potatoes and zucchini.

You may want to cut down on your consumption of onions, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts and cauliflower if you want to reduce bloating, but you should still make sure to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

If you are thinking about cutting a particular food group out long-term you should first get advice from your GP.

The hot weather could also be to blame for your bloating

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Bowel cancer warning – does your poo look like this? Signs and symptoms revealed

Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer to be diagnosed in the UK, according to the NHS.

The disease mainly affects people over 60 years old, but you could also be at risk if you’re overweight, or have a family history of bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer symptoms include a persistent abdominal pain, or unexplained weight loss.

If your poo has a red tinge to it, it could be a sign of bowel cancer, according to Ramsay Health Care UK.

You should speak to a doctor immediately if your stool is red, it urged.

Your poo may be a dark red or black colour, as there could be traces of blood in it.

Finding blood in your stool is one of the key bowel cancer symptoms.

The blood usually comes from higher up in the bowel, and goes dark red or black.

If the colour of your stool is more of a bright red, it’s likely to be caused by haemorrhoids, or an anal tear.

The colour is brighter, as the blood is more fresh, said Ramsay Health Care UK.

“If changes in your bowel habits persist for more than three weeks, or if you have noticed blood in your stools, consult your doctor immediately,” warned a Ramsay Health Care Laparoscopic Colorectal Consultant, Ash Gupta.

“These are the key signs that people, especially over 50s who are at most risk, should regularly check for.

“It is understandable that bowel symptoms may sometimes be embarrassing to be discussed and people may be put off by it.

“However, it is crucial to get them investigated and treated early in order to achieve a cure.

“If you do notice bleeding in your stools or persistent loose stools or increased frequency of stools, a camera test called colonoscopy or sometimes even just a limited study called flexible sigmoidoscopy may be required to diagnose and even treat early polyps at the same time.”

It’s not known what causes bowel cancer, but there are some risk factors that increase your risk of the disease.

About 90 per cent of all bowel cancer cases are diagnosed in people over 59 years old.

A diet high in red or processed meats, while low in fibre, could also increase your risk.

But, regular exercise could lower your chances of developing bowel cancer, the NHS said.

Every UK adult should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week.

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NHS scan gave me the all-clear but I still had cancer

x-ray

GETTY [STOCK IMAGE]Last month it was revealed that 450,000 women in England were not called for breast cancer screening

Yet even for women who do attend routine screenings, there is no guarantee their disease will be discovered – as Mandie Ballentine knows only too well.

Having lost three members of her immediate family to the disease, the 48-year-old was extremely vigilant about checking her breasts and having regular mammograms.

Despite this, four years ago she was given the devastating news that she too had advanced breast cancer.

As with many women diagnosed with the type of breast cancer she had, it had gone undetected by a mammogram.

Mandie, who works as a Macmillan nurse and lives in Himley, Staffordshire, with her husband Rob, 51 and daughter Jess, 17, had the less common form of the disease, which is often difficult to spot.

Called invasive lobular cancer it affects the lobules – milk-producing glands – in the breast and despite accounting for 15 per cent of breast cancer cases, most women have never heard of it.

Even more concerning is that the way this type of cancer grows inside the breast makes it notoriously difficult to detect, explains Professor Kefah Mokbel, lead surgeon at the London Breast Institute based at Princess Grace Hospital.

“Unlike ‘normal’ breast cancer which can cause a defined tumour, invasive lobular cancer grows in lines inside the breast tissue,” he says.

I lost my mum, nan and aunt to breast cancer, so when I developed a ‘hardening’ in my breast tissue but a mammogram revealed nothing – I insisted on being checked again

Mandie Ballentine

“I lost my mum, nan and aunt to breast cancer, so when I developed a ‘hardening’ in my breast tissue but a mammogram revealed nothing – I insisted on being checked again. As a nurse, I know there are different types of breast cancer which are not always picked up on mammograms which is why I called the breast unit at City Hospital in Birmingham and insisted on being seen.”

Her worst fears were confirmed almost immediately on an MRI scan when she was diagnosed with advanced Stage 3 breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes.

“They found that I had lobular cancer and the tumour was so large it had replaced my entire breast tissue,” she recalls.

Mandie immediately started a six-month course of chemotherapy before undergoing a mastectomy and radiotherapy. Sadly her case too common, says Professor Mokbel.

“I see patients who were given all-clear after a mammogram who come to me with advanced invasive lobular cancer because a symptom such as thickening of the breast was never investigated properly.

“Because it is so hard to diagnose, lobular cancer is often missed and only detected at an advanced stage, where the prognosis is not as good.”

Mandie now wants to use her experience to raise awareness of dangers of breast cancer in younger women – who are not routinely scanned until age 50 – calling for greater self-awareness.

“They need to focus on more self-examination, not being afraid ask for a second opinion from their doctor and having more tests such as a biopsy or MRI scan if they still feel unhappy.”

MRI scan GETTY [STOCK IMAGE]

Patients having MRI scan

While Mandie’s treatment was successful she was dealt another blow when doctors suggested she have her other breast removed due to a 40 per cent risk of the cancer returning.

“After all the treatment ended I was exhausted and had no confidence whatsoever,” she says.

“And after reconstructions I was left with two shapes which didn’t look or feel like breasts. I also had a lot of scarring because of the skin grafts. I never wanted to get undressed.”

It was then that Mandie heard of an increasingly popular treatment called “breast pigmentation”.

The procedure – sometimes known as medical or cosmetic tattooing – involves using natural pigments to mimic the natural features of the breast and create the illusion of a 3D nipple and areola.

Although the procedure is offered by the NHS, budget cuts and varying levels of expertise among staff means many women are unable to access it.

Instead Mandie went to a company called Brandwood Clinic, based in Solihull, near Birmingham.

“I made an appointment just to see what they could do for me and when I met the ladies at the clinic doing the treatment, I immediately felt at ease.

“I remember telling one of them that my breasts were like a face without a nose. They weren’t breasts, they were just a constant reminder of what I’d been through.”

After her initial consultation last April she had the pigmentation treatment on both breasts, a process that involved three separate sessions spaced eight weeks apart.

“Each treatment lasted three to four hours with two people working on me,” she recalls.

“At the end of my first treatment I burst into tears – happy tears. It had made such a difference to me.

“The level of expertise was amazing and they were able to devote more time on the treatment than I could have got on the NHS. And after my second treatment I started to change my outlook. I was happy to wear a swimming costume on holiday.

“The breast pigmentation treatment gave me my confidence back and the closure I needed.

“I had been ashamed of my scars but I started to feel proud of them because they were a reminder I am still here after all I’d been through.”

For more information visit brandwoodclinic.com or call 0121 296 9280.

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Hemorrhagic stroke symptoms: Are you at risk? Signs you need emergency help straight away

Stroke symptoms usually begin suddenly and depend on the part of your brain affected and the extent of the damage.

Their are two main types of stroke – a hemorrhagic stroke and ischaemic stroke.

Ischaemic strokes are the most common type, and occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, whereas haemorrhagic strokes are less common and happen when a blood vessel within the skull bursts and bleeds into and around the brain.

The main symptoms of both can be remembered with F.A.S.T., according to the NHS. It advises to look out for the following:

F for face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.

A for arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to life both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.

S for speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.

T is for time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

But according to Bupa, there are other symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke to look out for.

The first, is a sudden, very severe headache. Losing consciousness, feeling sick or vomiting, a stiff neck, feeling number or weak, or being unable to move your face, arm or leg on one side of your body, are other signs to watch for.

Dizziness, vertigo, blurred or double vision, feeling confused and seizures may also occurs.

The best way to help prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.

For those looking to overhaul their unhealthy eating habits, Stroke Association has five tips.

1. Fruit and vegetables should make up a third of your daily diet. Eat at least five portions a day.

2. Starchy foods should make up another third of your daily diet. Go for more wholegrain in foods like brown rice and wholegrain bread and breakfast cereals.

3. Aim to eat some protein every day. Healthy sources of protein can be found in fish, pulses, nuts an seeds, lean meat and meat alternatives like tofu and textured and vegetable protein.

4. Cut down on full-fat milk, cream and cheese, fatty meat, processed meats, and solid fats like butter and margarine.

5. Limit salt to a teaspoon day (or 6g). This includes hidden salt in ready-made and processed foods.

There are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK each year, or around one every five minutes.

Around 40,000 people die each year from a stroke, making it the UK’s fourth biggest killer.

It’s crucial that the signs of a stroke are caught quickly, as early treatment can mean the difference between recovery, disability or death.

Heavy drinkers are more likely to have strokes, but studies have shown that drinking a little alcohol can actually decrease your risk

“Studies show that if you have about one drink per day, your risk may be lower,” said Dr Natalia Rost, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.

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