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Study: Better Treatment Strategies for Pediatric Cancers helping Survivors Live Longer

The researchers focused on severe, disabling, life-threatening or fatal health problems that occurred within 15 years of being diagnosed with a pediatric cancer between 1970 and 1999

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FILE - A cancer patient says hello to a visiting dog at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, June 10, 2009. VOA
  • Severe health conditions arising within 15 years of childhood cancer diagnosis fell to 8.8 percent of survivors in the 1990s, from 12.7 percent in the 1970s
  • The finding is based on analysis of data from 23,600 participants in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study

Better treatment strategies for pediatric cancers are helping survivors live longer, with fewer serious health problems related to their treatment, U.S. researchers said Friday.

The finding, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting in Chicago, is based on analysis of data from 23,600 participants in the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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Overall, severe health conditions arising within 15 years of childhood cancer diagnosis fell to 8.8 percent of survivors in the 1990s, from 12.7 percent in the 1970s, the study found.

The findings show that childhood cancer survivors who were given more modern treatment approaches, such as reduced exposure to radiation and lower doses of chemotherapy, were faring better, said Todd Gibson of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, who led the study.

“Not only are more children being cured, but they also have lower risk for developing serious health problems due to cancer treatments later in life,” he said in a statement.

The researchers focused on severe, disabling, life-threatening or fatal health problems that occurred within 15 years of being diagnosed with a pediatric cancer between 1970 and 1999.

The biggest declines in health problems related to treatment occurred in survivors of Wilms’ tumor, a rare kidney cancer. In this group, serious complications fell to 5 percent of survivors in the 1990s, from a high of 13 percent in the 1970s.

Improvements

In survivors of childhood Hodgkin lymphoma, latent complication rates fell to 11 percent, from 18 percent in the 1970s. Improvements were also seen for astrocytoma, the second most common childhood cancer, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer.

There were no reductions in long-term side effects among survivors of neuroblastoma, acute myeloid leukemia, soft-tissue sarcoma and osteoscarcoma.

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The biggest improvements were seen with regard to endocrine conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease or growth hormone deficiency. The researchers saw endocrine problems fall to 1.6 percent for childhood cancer survivors surveyed in the 1990s, compared with 4 percent in the 1970s.

The emergence of secondary cancers fell to 1.6 percent in the 1990s, compared with 2.4 percent in the 1970s.

Gastrointestinal and neurological conditions also improved.

But there was no improvement in rates of heart or lung conditions, which the researchers said served as a reminder of the need for close follow-up in childhood cancer survivors. (VOA)

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WHO Releases New Guidelines to Fight Global Childhood Obesity

India ranks second in the number of obese children in the world with China taking the first spot

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OBESITY
Obesity exposes an individual to multiple health problems. VOA

New Delhi, October 12, 2017:  In 2016, an Official data in had revealed that over 41 million children below the age of 5 were affected by obesity. Without due attention and efficient treatment, they are likely to remain obese throughout their lives, with an increased risk of developing a host of diseases and physical and psychological consequences like anxiety, low self-esteem, depression, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and even premature death.

In view of an escalating number of people constantly coming under the ambush of obesity, and with childhood obesity becoming a cause of worry globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new guidelines on October 4, emphasizing the growing importance of healthcare experts and professionals, underlining their positive role in helping kids and teenagers fight the global menace.

What is Obesity?

Obesity is defined as ‘excess adipose tissue’. In other words, it is a body-weight disorder involving excessive body fat that exposes an individual to multiple health problems.  In case a person’s body-weight is nearly 20 per cent higher than it should be, he is considered obese.

obesity
Excessive body fat that exposes an individual to multiple health problems. Pixabay

There are different ways to calculate excess adipose tissue, the most common one being the Body Mass Index.

Index :

Overweight – BMI greater than or equal to 25

Obesity – BMI greater than or equal to 30

Global Data

According to data obtained by WHO, one half of all overweight children or obese children lived in Asia, and one-quarter of the total obese children lived in Africa.

According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine in June, India ranks second in the number of obese children in the world with China taking the first spot.

The global menace continues to rise rapidly in low and middle-income countries.

Also Read: Obesity leads to 13 types of Cancer, including that of Pancreas and Esophagus: Study

WHO Guidelines

The new report released by WHO on October 4 is titled ‘Assessing and Managing Children at Primary Healthcare Facilities to Prevent Overweight and Obesity in the Context of the Double Burden of Malnutrition’.

The report provides guidelines and updates for the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI). The guidelines attempt to confine the spread of childhood obesity from expanding further, and prescribe undertaking proper assessment of dietary habits along with weight and height measurements. It also recommends dieting and proper counseling by healthcare experts.

Recommendations by WHO

  • WHO has recommended that primary healthcare facilities should be made available to all children below the age of 5 years and infants. These should include measurement of both weight and height of the children to determine their weight-for height and nutritional status as previously defined by WHO child growth standards.
  • For children and infants identified as overweight, healthcare experts should provide counseling to parents and caregivers on nutrition and physical activity, which includes creating awareness about healthy practices like exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months and continuing the practice until 2 years or more.
  • WHO also prescribes that an appropriate management plan should be devised to counter the menace in obese children. This can be developed by a trained health worker at primary healthcare facilities, or local hospitals.

Healthy Eating Tips to Fight Obesity

Here are a few healthy eating tips that will not only help you maintain a healthy weight but will also prove be be beneficial for your metabolism, physical strength and general well-being,

  • Refrain from unnecessary indulgences or random snacking and encourage healthy snacking choices like popcorns, yogurt, fruits, etc.
  • Reduce your sugar intake to less than 10 per cent of the total calories for an individual with normal weight.

obesity
Obese and binge eating junk food? Red Flag! Pixabay

  • Consume a gracious serving of seasonal vegetables and fruits everyday that are rich in soluble and insoluble fibres, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
  • Make healthy food selections- include whole grain products, avoid excessive use of oil and salt and refrain from processed or packaged food.
  • A balanced diet must be complimented with regular exercise to counter unnecessary weight gain

– prepared by Soha Kala of NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala

 

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC

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Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) May Combat Lung Function Decline in Women: Study

Menopause, where the level of female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone fall, accelerates the decline in lung function

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HRT
Women who undergo HRT have less chances of lung function decline. Pixabay

London, Sep 12, 2017: Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), used to treat common symptoms of menopause, can help slow the decline in lung function in middle-aged women, according to new research.

Women who suffer from airway diseases, the decline in lung function may influence quality of life, as it could lead to an increase in shortness of breath, reduced work capacity and fatigue.

According to the study, menopause, where the level of female hormones such as estrogen and progesterone fall, accelerates the decline in lung function.

But women who took HRT — where these hormones are prescribed — for two or more years lost an average of 46 ml less of lung volume compared with women who never took HRT.

“Our findings show that female sex hormones are important for the preservation of lung function in middle-aged women,” Kai Triebner, post-doctoral student at the University of Bergen in Norway.

Also Read: Abdominal fat drives cancer in postmenopausal women: Study 

For the study, presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress in Milan, Italy, the team followed 3,713 women for approximately 20 years from the early 1990s to 2010.

While HRT can help with menopausal symptoms and protects against osteoporosis, it has also been linked with an increase in the risk of breast cancer and heart and blood vessel problems.

“Women with existing health problems, for instance asthma, need to be followed more thoroughly through the menopausal transition and be provided with advice on medications that take the changing hormone levels better into account — ideally with a personalised approach,” Triebner added. (IANS)