Archive for January, 2013

According to an article in the December Wellsource Healthy Choices Newsletter, new research at the University of South Wales (Neurology 79 (1): 1019-1026 SEP 2012) shows that if your fasting blood sugar, or glucose, levels are in the high end of “normal” , your risk of brain shrinkage and diabetes increases. When brain shrinkage occurs, the cells, tissues, and connections in the brain are lost or damaged, which can lead to dementia, seizures, and cognitive problems, and often gets worse over time.

diabetes blood test

Normal fasting glucose levels are 70-99mg/dl; high normal is considered 90-99mg/dl.

A Hemoglobin A1c test will measure your average blood sugar levels over the past 2-3 months.  Many physicians will recommend the getting the A1c test to see if your blood sugar is under control.

The most common cause of elevated blood sugar (glucose) is insulin resistance caused by inactivity and by being overweight.

What can you do?

  • Exercise daily for 30-plus minutes.
  • Lose weight. Even losing 10 to 15 pounds of fat can lower your glucose.
  • Eat low glycemic index foods ( most fruits and vegetables except potatoes, whole grains, nuts, legumes.)

Many pre-diabetics and diabetics will have to watch the amount of carbohydrates they eat at each meal.  Surprisingly, even fruits and vegetables have starches and some are as high as grain products.  For example, one piece of wheat bread has 13g of carbohydrates and an apple has 15g of carbohydrates!  Adding healthy fats can minimize the glycemic rate, so the apple is a better choice, but it would be better to add some peanut butter to it.  Yogurt and some other dairy products can also have a high carbohydrate value, so be sure to read your labels.  For example, non-fat fruited yogurt had 28g of carbohydrates.  A better alternative would be a handful of almonds that has only 4-6g of carbohydrates.

Most men are to have the maximum of 4-5 carbohydrate servings per meal (60-75g) and women should aim for 3-4 carbohydrate servings per meal (45-60).  The total amount of carbohydrates has the most impact on post-meal blood sugar levels.  Reading labels is the best way to track your carbohydrate levels if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic.

Diabetes is a serious disease and many body organs can be negatively affected.  Monitor your blood sugar and keep on track to a healthy lifestyle!

Health One Labs offers a Diabetes Test Package for $ 99 which includes:

The Comprehensive Health Profile consists of the following groups of online blood tests:

  • Lipid Panel
  • Liver Profile
  • Kidney Panel
  • Minerals & Bone
  • Fluids & Electrolytes
  • Complete Blood Count
  • Diabetes Screen

The Hemoglobin A1c test tests for long term glucose levels.

Molecules of glucose (sugar) in the blood bind to this fraction of hemoglobin, and stay bound to it for months. The higher the amount of blood glucose, the higher the amount of hemoglobin A1c, and according to its value, one can obtain the average blood sugar during the previous 8 to 12 weeks. The test indicates how well your diabetes has been controlled in the 2 to 3 months before the test. Information gained from this test can help determine whether your diabetes medication needs to be adjusted. It can also help your health professional estimate your risk of developing complications from diabetes, such as kidney failure, vision problems, and leg or foot numbness. The A1c level is directly related to complications from diabetes: the lower your A1c level, the lower your risk for complications.

Microalbumin, Random Urine A microalbumin test checks urine for the presence of a protein called albumin. Albumin is normally found in the blood and filtered by the kidneys. When the kidneys are working properly, albumin is not present in the urine. But when the kidneys are damaged, small amounts of albumin leak into the urine. This condition is called microalbuminuria.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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Carotenoids May Reduce Cancer Risk

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A new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, suggests that women with higher carotenoid levels in their blood have a reduced risk of breast cancer.  

What are Carotenoids and Why are they Important?

Simply said, carotenoids are substances in fruits and vegetables that give them their bright colors.  Carotenoids are prevalent in many orange colored vegetables and typically the darker the pigment in the food, the more carotenoids they contain.  Carotenoids act as antioxidants which prevent damage to our cells.  It is easy to add anti-oxidants, especially carotenoids to your diet:

carotenoids prevents breast cancer article

  1. carrots
  2. sweet potatoes
  3. pumpkin
  4. cantaloupe
  5. apricot
  6. papaya
  7. red and orange peppers
  8. tomatoes

The study indicated that women with the most carotenoids in their blood were 19 percent less likely to develop breast cancer than those with the lowest levels.   Lycopene was the best carotenoid to protect against breast cancer. Those with the highest lycopene levels had a 22% reduced risk of cancer.  Tomato products are loaded with lycopene.  So besides the red/orange colored fruits and veggies in your diet, add tomato sauce, salsa, fresh tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit to your diet.  This research confirms that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is beneficial to your health.

Since carotenoids are fat-soluble, it is important to add a little healthy fat to your diet.  An example is to add olive oil to your salad of vegetables or saute some garlic in olive oil before simmering tomatoes in the sauce.  This will allow the body to absorb the nutrients and providing the benefit of lowering your risks of cancer.

Individuals can order their own lab tests to measure carotenoids with a simple blood test for Vitamin A and Carotene.
Resource: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, published online December 6, 2012.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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High Cholesterol Test Results? Lower It.

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If you have too much cholesterol in your blood, there is an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.  The three main lifestyle changes you can employ, without the use of medication are:

1.  diet – eating healthy foods

2.  losing weight

3.  exercise

cholesterol blood test

Start reducing your cholesterol now to avoid heart and blood vessel disease that is caused by a buildup of cholesterol, plaque and other fatty deposits along artery walls.  When the buildup is large, the arteries become clogged and the blood flow is reduced.  Arteries feed oxygen rich blood to the heart, but if they are blocked and blood flow is reduced, a heart attack is likely to occur.  It is also likely that a blood clot could form and block an artery leading to the brain therefore causing a stroke.

Limit the use of whole milk, cream and ice cream.  A good substitute – low fat milk products.  Be careful of fat-free products as sometimes added sugar is used in lieu of fat.  Minimize the use of butter, egg yolks and cheese.  Instead use Omega-3 rich olive oil, just egg whites and maybe a sprinkle of low fat cheese for flavor.  Highly processed meats such as hot-dogs, sausage, and salami are high in sodium, nitrates and fat  Consider turkey sausages as a lower fat alternative.  When you have a craving for a high fat food, try a small handful of nuts that will provide the healthy fats along with some protein.  Meatless meals once or more per week is another great way to minimize fat without sacrificing flavor.  Black beans, chickpeas or healthy grains like quinoa can be filling and satisfying without the fat.

If you cannot manage your cholesterol with diet, exercise and losing weight, your physician may want you to start a protocol of cholesterol lowering medications.

You have heard of Statins – these are drugs that can lower your cholesterol by blocking a substance your body uses to make cholesterol.  The drug also may absorb cholesterol that has built up on your artery walls.

Using statins is a life-long commitment:  your cholesterol will most likely go back up if you stop taking the statins.  The only way you may be able to safely stop taking statins is if you can modify your cholesterol through diet, weight control and exercise.

As with all medications, there are side effects to consider.  Minor side effects are muscle and joint aches, nausea, diarrhea or constipation.  Major side effects could include liver damage, muscle pain and increased blood sugar.  Most people on statins will regularly test the liver via a liver function test (also called a hepatic panel) and they will also monitor longer term average sugar via a hemoglobin A1c test.  Discuss all medications, lifestyle habits and tests with your physician to determine the best protocol for you.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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There is increasing awareness to conduct blood sugar testing or blood glucose testing in order to determine if you have diabetes.  There are two blood tests that are used in addition to an exam by your physician:

Fasting Glucose Blood Test : Fasting values are usually high in diabetes.  Certain drugs, such as thyroid, diuretic and birth control pills as well as recent intake of food, can elevate glucose levels.

Hemoglobin A1C Blood Test : Molecules of glucose (sugar) in the blood bind to this fraction of hemoglobin, and stay bound to it for months. The higher the amount of blood glucose, the higher the amount of hemoglobin A1c, and according to its value, one can obtain the average blood sugar during the previous 8 to 12 weeks.

 

a1c screenshot resized 600

Most people who are diagnosed with diabetes experienced some degree of prediabetes:  their blood glucose values or A1c values were higher than normal but not high enough to be considered as diabetes.  Early action, including diet, exercise and other lifestyle changes, can positively affect your blood sugar levels.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is the inability to regulate blood sugar.  The hormone insulin moves glucose (sugar) for energy.  When the body cannot produce enough insulin, or the cells don’t use insulin effectively, then excess glucose remains in the blood stream. There is NO CURE for diabetes but it can be managed successfully by diet, exercise, prescribed medication, etc.  It’s important to avoid the complications of diabetes which is linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, vision loss, kidney disease and other serious complications.

Myths about Diabetes (from American Diabetes Association)

Myth: Diabetes is not that serious of a disease.

Fact: Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.

Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

Fact: Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Unfortunately, too many people disregard the other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight.

Myth: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.

Fact: The answer is not so simple. Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors.

Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories from any source contributes to weight gain. Research has shown that drinking sugary drinks is linked to type 2 diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that people should limit their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to help prevent diabetes. Sugar-sweetened beverages include beverages like:

  • regular soda
  • fruit punch
  • fruit drinks
  • energy drinks
  • sports drinks
  • sweet tea
  • other sugary drinks.

These will raise blood glucose and can provide several hundred calories in just one serving!

See for yourself:

  • Just one 12-ounce can of regular soda has about 150 calories and 40 grams of carbohydrate. This is the same amount of carbohydrate in 10 teaspoons of sugar!
  • One cup of fruit punch and other sugary fruit drinks have about 100 calories (or more) and 30 grams of carbohydrate.

Myth: People with diabetes should eat special diabetic foods.

Fact: A healthy meal plan for people with diabetes is generally the same as a healthy diet for anyone – low in fat (especially saturated and trans fat), moderate in salt and sugar, with meals based on whole grain foods, vegetables and fruit. Diabetic and “dietetic” foods generally offer no special benefit. Most of them still raise blood glucose levels, are usually more expensive and can also have a laxative effect if they contain sugar alcohols.

Myth: If you have diabetes, you should only eat small amounts of starchy foods, such as bread, potatoes and pasta.

Fact: Starchy foods are part of a healthy meal plan. What is important is the portion size. Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice and starchy vegetables like potatoes, yams, peas and corn can be included in your meals and snacks. The key is portions. For most people with diabetes, having 3-4 servings of carbohydrate-containing foods per meal is about right. Whole grain starchy foods are also a good source of fiber, which helps keep your gut healthy.

Myth: People with diabetes can’t eat sweets or chocolate.

Fact: If eaten as part of a healthy meal plan, or combined with exercise, sweets and desserts can be eaten by people with diabetes. They are no more “off limits” to people with diabetes than they are to people without diabetes. The key to sweets is to have a very small portion and save them for special occasions so you focus your meal on more healthful foods.

Myth: You can catch diabetes from someone else.

Fact: No. Although we don’t know exactly why some people develop diabetes, we know diabetes is not contagious. It can’t be caught like a cold or flu. There seems to be some genetic link in diabetes, particularly type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle factors also play a part.

Myth: People with diabetes are more likely to get colds and other illnesses.

Fact: You are no more likely to get a cold or another illness if you have diabetes. However, people with diabetes are advised to get flu shots. This is because any illness can make diabetes more difficult to control, and people with diabetes who do get the flu are more likely than others to go on to develop serious complications.

Myth: If you have type 2 diabetes and your doctor says you need to start using insulin, it means you’re failing to take care of your diabetes properly.

Fact: For most people, type 2 diabetes is a progressive disease. When first diagnosed, many people with type 2 diabetes can keep their blood glucose at a healthy level with oral medications. But over time, the body gradually produces less and less of its own insulin, and eventually oral medications may not be enough to keep blood glucose levels normal. Using insulin to get blood glucose levels to a healthy level is a good thing, not a bad one.

Myth: Fruit is a healthy food. Therefore, it is ok to eat as much of it as you wish.

Fact: Fruit is a healthy food. It contains fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals. Because fruits contain carbohydrates, they need to be included in your meal plan. Talk to your dietitian about the amount, frequency and types of fruits you should eat.

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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The most common reason men seek testosterone therapy is waning sexual desire or performance.  However, when tested, more than 25% of the men had normal testosterone levels.  Additionally, men with subnormal levels did not have libido or performance issues, so physicians are questioning the purpose of testosterone replacement therapy.  Some physicians, will suggest a trial of topical testosterone therapy for up to a year to see if sexual function or other symptoms improve.

Physicians have used synthetic testosterone, for decades, to treat men whose hormone level is unambiguously low. Low testosterone levels or Hypogonadism, can be caused when the testes do not manufacture enough testosterone.  It can also occur when the pituitary gland doesn’t signal the testes to generate the testosterone the body needs.  There is a natural decline in testosterone as men age, so there is an increased usage in taking testosterone to reverse the age-related decline.

testosterone test resized 600

Monitor your Testosterone Levels

The symptoms of testosterone deficiency are very general and can be attributed to several other health issues.  Symptoms include fatigue, depressed mood, diminished muscle mass, etc., so measuring testosterone levels is beneficial.  In men over 65, the goal should be 300–450 ng/dL, the middle of the normal range for that age.

Monitoring for testosterone-dependent diseases is warranted: benign prostate enlargement and prostate cancer are the main concerns, but doctors should also check for worsening of sleep apnea, breast tenderness, and elevated red blood cell counts.

NIH Research

The National Institute of Health is continuously studying the effects of testosterone therapy in men and how it affects their overall health and wellness.  A recent study, which was also published in the New England Journal of Medicine, included a clinical trial of testosterone treatment in older men.  The findings were that the treated men had a higher rate of adverse cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and elevated blood pressure.  The group of older men receiving testosterone gel compared to those receiving placebo had an increase of adverse events and the trial was stopped.

The researchers published their findings in the New England Journal of Medicine and noted that the high hazardous outcome could have been because the study participants had high rates of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol  However, this may be a realistic population for those currently receiving hormone therapy.

Testosterone Therapy – Ask Your Physician

Testosterone replacement therapy has been used for years and is recommended to be done under the direction of a physician. Physicians and patients, especially older men, should consider the adverse effects along with other information on the risks and benefits of testosterone therapy.  Each person is different and responds differently, so it is best to be under the guide of a physician.  Test your testosterone levels to be sure you need the therapy and also to see if the therapy is working.

Blood Tests:

Testosterone, Total $39

Testosterone, Total & Free $59

Men’s Hormone Package : Testosterone, Total & Free, Estradiol, PSA $69

Take Control of Your Health

Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.


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Should I Get a CA-125 Blood Test?

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What is the CA-125 Blood Test?

Typically, the CA-125 test is used to monitor women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  If the CA-125 levels were high when the cancer was first diagnosed, the test is used as a tool to determine if ovarian cancer treatment is working.  Usually a patient will have the test completed every 2-4 months after surgery and chemotherapy and then less frequently as time progresses.

Another reason a CA-125 test may be done is to help diagnose when symptoms or findings suggest ovarian cancer.  It is not usually done as a screening test for healthy women, but rather as a supporting test to assist with diagnosis.

Ovarian cancer resized 600CA-125 is a test done on a blood sample drawn in a laboratory. The assay (analysis) assesses the amount of an antibody that recognizes an antigen in tumor cells.

In a woman with known ovarian cancer, a rise in CA-125 usually means that the disease has progressed or recurred. A decrease in CA-125 usually means the disease is responding to treatment.

In a woman who has NOT already been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, an elevated CA-125 can mean a number of things. While it can indicate that she has ovarian cancer, it can also indicate other types of cancer, as well as several benign diseases such as endometriosis.

When used in healthy women, an elevated CA-125 usually does NOT mean ovarian cancer is present. The vast majority of healthy women with an elevated CA-125 do not have ovarian cancer (or any other cancer for that matter).

Any woman with an abnormal CA-125 test will need further tests, and sometimes invasive surgical procedures, to confirm the result. These additional tests all involve risks and anxiety.

Therefore, the CA-125 should not be considered an effective general screening test for ovarian cancer. Studies are underway to determine whether it might be effective when combined with other blood tests or radiologic studies.

Is the CA-125 Helpful for Diagnosis?

Slightly over 80 percent of women who have ovarian cancer will have an elevated CA-125 in the liquid portion of their blood (serum) at the time of diagnosis. (True positive).

CA-125 tests can generate a false positive so this is why it is ordered along with a transvaginal sonography and a pelvic exam. False positives are more likely to occur with pre-menopausal women than post-menopausal women.  It is important to note that almost 20% of women who have ovarian cancer do not ever have elevated CA-125 and therefore it is essential to use the test in addition to a physical exam.

If a woman has ovarian cancer, a rise in CA-125 usually means that the disease has progressed or recurred. A decrease in CA-125 usually means the disease is responding to treatment.

What if I have an elevated CA-125

If a woman hasn’t been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, an elevated CA-125 could indicate:

  1. Ovarian Cancer
  2. Another Type of Cancer
  3. Endometriosis
  4. False Positive

Therefore, the CA-125 should not be considered an effective general screening test for ovarian cancer.


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