Archive | October 2023


“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Literacy is the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.

Health literacy is important for everyone because, at some point in our lives, we all need to be able to find, understand, and use health information and services.

Studies consistently show that a significant number of people have problems reading, understanding, and acting on health information.

This is an issue because health information is complex and can be hard to understand, and health providers are not necessarily skilled communicators. When organizations or people create and give others health information that is too difficult for them to understand, or we expect them to figure out health services with many unfamiliar, confusing or even conflicting steps, a health literacy problem is created.

Patients also bring a wide range of learning needs to the healthcare experience.

Basic literacy skills, language, age, disability, cultural context, and emotional responses can all affect the way people receive and process information — and the way people process information, in turn, has a direct impact on health outcomes and cost.”

District Health Department (

Health Literacy Month!

During the month of October, Health Literacy Month encourages everyone working to provide easy access to understandable health information. For more than 20 years, October has been recognized as Health Literacy Month. Health Literacy Month is a time of international observance when hospitals, health centers, literacy programs, libraries, social service agencies, businesses, professional associations, govern­ment agencies, consumer alliances, and many other groups work collaboratively to integrate and expand the mission of health literacy.

Low health literacy is more prevalent among:

  • Older adults
  • Minority populations
  • Those who have low socioeconomic status
  • Medically underserved people”

What Are the Consequences of Low Health Literacy? – The two major areas that are impacted by low health literacy are “economic costs to society and the health-care system, and costs in terms of the human burden of disease” (Institute of Medicine, 2004). There is also considerable psychological suffering created by low health suffering. Within those overarching categories, the results of low health literacy (as measured by reading and numeracy skills) can include:

  • Shame and stigma, which can create barriers to health and behavioral health care and to improving low health literacy;
  • Reduced knowledge and understanding of a person’s own medical conditions and treatment;
  • Reduced knowledge and understanding of health-promoting behaviors and preventive care and services;
  • Increased rates of hospitalization and use of emergency services;
  • Increased rates of poor health status;
  • Entry of sicker patients into healthcare systems;
  • Increased health care costs and spending (Institute of Medicine, 2004).

During this time, organizations and individuals promote the importance of understandable health information along with bringing awareness to breaking down the barriers of understanding. According to health experts, there is a large gap between the way health care issues are communicated by professionals, and the ability of the average person to understand them. Most people have limited health literacy… Not just those with limited reading or writing skills. If someone struggles to understand health literacy, statistically, they are more likely to skip important medical tests, have a harder time living with conditions, and visit the emergency room more often. This is why understanding health literacy is so important for everyone.

The good news is, that many health care facilities are trying to improve the way they communicate with patients to make sure everything is clear before the patient leaves. They are doing things like simplifying their written materials, using video and photos to teach patients, and more to help doctors clearly get their message across.

There are a few things you can do to improve your own health literacy individually or as a organization:

1. Improve your communication with health professionals. Make a list of your symptoms before you go in, have questions written down, and take a few notes when your doctor is explaining things to you.

2. Make sure you know who to call with any questions when you leave.

3. Attend health education programs at a library, community center, or anywhere you can find them in your community.

4. Talk to local schools and request that kids are taught about health literacy and education so they are prepared as they get older.

5. Hold a staff training to teach staff to use simple language, short sentences, and explain medical terms.   Some useful tools for measuring individual.

6. Update materials for your organization to include similar resources in the primary language for Limited English Proficiency.




“The American Cancer Society’s estimates for pancreatic cancer in the United States for 2023 are:

  • About 64,050 people (33,130 men and 30,920 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
  • About 50,550 people (26,620 men and 23,930 women) will die of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the US and about 7% of all cancer deaths.

It is slightly more common in men than in women.”

American Cancer Society


Pancreatic Cancer: What are the significant risks for getting this disease?

Pancreatic cancer is one of the few types of cancer that haven’t improved in terms of survival rates over the years, according to the Hirshberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research. In fact, the foundation said the mortality rate is 93-percent within 5-years of diagnosis. And 71-percent will die in first year.  Usually people diagnosed with this disease are told they have 6 months to 1 year survival rate.  There are the few for the many that live longer but know this the major depending factor is also the stage level of cancer your in (I, II, III & IV).  The higher the worse the metastasis.

These stats point to why it’s important to raise awareness about this killer cancer, and to outline some facts and figures. In honor of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month in November, here are six things to know, thanks to Jeff Hayward on November 1 informed the world of this information on his blog with facts…

1. Their are Risk Factors

The American Cancer Society says that the average lifetime risk of developing cancer of the pancreas in both men and women is 1 in 65. However, there are certain factors that might make you more likely to face the disease.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America notes that these risk factors include age (most pancreatic cancers form at age-55 or older), gender (males are slightly more likely to develop it), obesity, diabetes, smoking, and more.

2. Heredity

Cancer Treatment Centers of America also notes that about 10-percent of pancreatic cancer cases are thought to be genetic, or passed down from a parent.

These genetic mutations include hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (BRCA2), familial melanoma (p16), familial pancreatitis (PRSS1), and neurofibromatosis type-1 (NF1), adds the source. Other “inherited syndromes” can raise risks including Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer), Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome, and Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome.

3. There Were 50,000 Cases 2016 and NOW

The American Cancer Society estimates there were 53,070 new diagnoses of pancreatic cancer this year in the U.S., and sadly it adds that it expected more than 41,000 of those patients to die from it.

Of those numbers, there were an estimated 27,670 men diagnosed in 2016, compared to an estimated 25,400 diagnoses for women. The death rates are proportionate for both, according to additional statistics from the cancer society.

The American Cancer Society’s estimates for pancreatic cancer in the United States for 2023 are:

  • About 64,050 people (33,130 men and 30,920 women) will be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
  • About 50,550 people (26,620 men and 23,930 women) will die of pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3% of all cancers in the US and about 7% of all cancer deaths.

It is slightly more common in men than in women.

4. One of Most Prevalent Cancers in the World

The World Cancer Research Fund International notes that pancreatic cancer shares 10th-place in global prevalence with kidney cancer. Worldwide, there were 338,000 cases of pancreatic cancers diagnosed in 2012 alone, notes the source.

Looking at a breakdown of the disease’s age-standardized rates by country, the U.S. comes in 20th at 7.5-cases per 100,000. The top two countries in the world for cancer of the pancreas are Czech Republic (9.7-per 100,000) and Slovakia (9.4-per 100,000).

5. It Often Causes Symptoms When it’s Too Late

Scientific American talks about why this type of cancer is so deadly in a 2011 article making reference to Apple founder Steve Jobs, who died from the cancer.

It notes that patients sometimes don’t seek treatment right away, because symptoms including weight loss, jaundice and abdominal pain don’t begin until the later stages. “They usually start after the tumor is a significant size. By then, chances are, it has metastasized (that is, spread to other parts of the body),” explains the article.

6. There’s More than One Type

The American Cancer Society explains the overwhelmingly common form of this cancer is pancreatic adenocarcinoma, which makes up 95-percent of all cases. These begin in the ducts of the pancreas and sometimes develop from the cells that form pancreatic enzymes, according to the source.

The “other” type of cancer of the pancreas is pancreatic endocrine tumors, otherwise known as neuroendocrine tumors, explains the cancer society. These tumors can be cancerous or benign, and are subdivided into other categories including “functioning NETs” (including gastrinomas, insulinomas and glucagonomas), and “non-functioning NETs” which are actually more likely to cause cancer because they can grow larger before they’re discovered.

Know how it works you have a pancreas medically noted in Anatomy and Physiology as having a head, neck, body and tail.  The location of the cancer can play a major role especially if diagnosed earlier, depending on the location for some.

The head is the widest part of the pancreas. The head of the pancreas is found in the right side of abdomen, nestled in the curve of the duodenum body and tail.  Worse place for pancreas since this allows metastasis faster than other areas of the pancreas.  The head of the pancreas is connected to other body organs and near lymph nodes making it the ideal place for metastasis (spreading) to occur.   Know this in some cases caught early can make a major change in a longer life for some.

The neck is the thin section of the gland between the head and the body of the pancreas.

The body is the middle part of the pancreas between the neck and the tail. The superior mesenteric artery and vein run behind this part of the pancreas.  This is not connected like the head and if caught early results can be better.

The tail is the thin tip of the pancreas in the left side of the abdomen, in close proximity with the spleen. This is the end of the pancreas connected to nothing, no ducts or other tissues or other body glands of the body that put it near by lymph nodes or connected to and best place for area of the cancer especially if it is only in the tail, in most cases, since less chance of spreading the cancer.  Also if only in the tail of pancreas, surgery will entail removal of that part of the organ with chemo a few months and resolved in most cases.  Just follow up visits to your chemo doctor for however long the M.D. directs you.


“-Your left lung is smaller than your right lung, to accommodate for your heart.
-70% of waste is eliminated through your lungs just by breathing2.
-Can you live without one lung? Yes you can, it limits your physical ability but doesn’t stop you from living a relatively normal life. Many people around the world live with just one lung.
-No matter how hard we exhale, our lungs will always retain 1 litre of air in the airways. This makes the lungs only human organs that can float on water.
-Oxygen only plays a small part in our breathing. The air we breathe contains 21% oxygen, but our bodies only use 5%, the rest is exhaled.
-Children and women are faster breathers than men because their breathing rate is higher.
-Humans exhale up to 17.5 millilitres of water per hour.”

Lung Foundation Australia (

Lung Cancer Facts

You may be surprised to learn that the most deadly cancer among both men and women in the United States isn’t breast cancer: It’s lung cancer.

Although the rate of new lung cancer cases has dropped in recent years along with the smoking rate, lung cancer still accounts for more deaths than any other cancer in both men and women, according to the American Cancer Society.

So even though you’ll probably never see professional athletes sporting pearl-colored gloves and shoes (pearl is the color of the lung cancer ribbon) to raise awareness, it’s important to learn about the disease: who is at risk — not just people who smoke tobacco — how it’s treated and why early detection is the best defense.

Here, Mary Jo Fidler, MD, a medical oncologist at Rush University Medical Center, discusses five things everyone should know about lung cancer.

1. It’s often caused by a combination of factors.

“It’s natural to associate lung cancer with cigarette smoking,” Fidler says. “Although it’s true that smoking is responsible for 80 percent of all lung cancer cases, lung cancer among people who have never smoked is the sixth leading cause of cancer death worldwide.”

These are some of the leading causes of lung cancer among nonsmokers:

  • Exposure to radon gas released from soil and building materials
  • Exposure to asbestos, diesel exhaust and/or industrial chemicals
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke (the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says secondhand smoke increases a nonsmoker’s lung cancer risk by as much as 20 to 30 percent)
  • Air pollution

And while any of these factors can cause lung cancer on its own, the disease is often the result of interacting factors.

For instance, according to the National Institutes of Health, there is a greater risk for lung cancer when smokers are also exposed to radon gas. And research studies have shown that the combination of smoking and asbestos exposure greatly increases a person’s risk of developing lung cancer vs. both nonsmoking asbestos workers and smokers who are not exposed to asbestos.

Occupational exposures — including asbestos, uranium and coke (a type of fuel used in smelters, blast furnaces and foundries) — can also increase a person’s risk of dying from their lung cancer, according to another study.

2. Genes may play a role in lung cancer risk.

Scientists have discovered that another culprit may be responsible for some nonsmokers getting lung cancer: genetics.

A study published in the journal Nature Genetics identified three genetic variations — two on chromosome 6 and one on chromosome 10 — that are associated with increased lung cancer risk in Asian women who have never smoked.

Findings have shown that the risk of lung cancer among people who never smoked, especially Asian women, may be associated with specific genetic characteristics that distinguish it from lung cancer in smokers.

Another study, published in Cancer, found that a variant in the NFKB1 gene was associated with a 21 to 44 percent reduced risk of lung cancer. Because a protein produced in part of the NFKB1 gene is known to play a significant role in inflammation and immunity by regulating gene expression, cell death and cell production, the study suggests that inflammation and immune response may be associated with lung cancer risk.

Further research is needed, however, to determine whether there’s a cause and effect relationship between this variant in the NFKB1 gene and lung cancer. Future studies may also shed more light on the exact role inflammation plays in lung cancer risk.

3. If you’re at high risk, CT scans are an effective screening tool.

As with other cancers, the key to surviving lung cancer is catching it in the earliest stages, when it’s most treatable.

The five-year survival rate for people whose cancers are diagnosed when they’re still localized — meaning they haven’t yet spread to the lymph node drainage system or other areas of the body — can be as high as 80 to 90 percent; the survival rate plummets to 2 percent if the diagnosis happens after the cancer has spread to other body parts.

Unfortunately, because symptoms (including persistent cough or coughing up blood, unexplained weight loss, persistent chest pain and shortness of breath) don’t usually appear until the later stages, lung cancer is tough to diagnose early.

Low-dose spiral computed tomography (CT) has proven to reduce lung cancer deaths in patients at high risk for lung cancer. In fact, the National Lung Screening Trial found a 20 percent reduction in deaths from lung cancer among current or former heavy smokers who were screened with low-dose spiral CT (versus those screened by chest X-ray).

However, because the scans can also yield false positive results — by mistaking scar tissue or benign lumps for cancer — they’re recommended only for people at high-risk, for whom the benefits of early detection outweigh the risks of potential false positives and repeated exposure from the scans.

Lung cancer screening is recommended for people who meet these criteria:

  • Are between the ages of 55 and 77 (for Medicare coverage) and 55 and 80 (for commercial insurance coverage)
  • Have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history (an average of one pack a day for 30 or more years)
  • Are in good health and have no signs of lung cancer (weight loss or coughing up blood)
  • Have not had a chest CT in the past year.

“Talk to your doctor if you’re in this high-risk group,” says Fidler. “The best evidence we have available tells us that while CT scanning isn’t right for everyone, for those at high risk it does prevent lung cancer deaths by enabling earlier diagnoses.”

We have had a historically huge amount of FDA approvals in a relatively short amount of time for lung cancer therapies, which is good reason for optimism.

4. Some tumors can be removed minimally invasively.

Tumors that are caught in the early stages can often be surgically removed, giving patients a good chance of being cancer-free.

The standard procedure to remove the lobe of the lung in which the tumor is located, known as a lobectomy, typically requires a six-inch incision in the chest through which the ribsare spread apart.

But at a handful of medical centers, including Rush, roughly 80 percent of lobectomies can be done using a minimally invasive approach.

Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) lobectomies are performed through small incisions (and without spreading the rib cage) using a tiny video camera and specialized surgical instruments. There are many benefits to a VATS lobectomy vs. open surgery — including less pain and fewer complications after surgery, less time in the hospital and a speedier recovery — and the results are comparable, making it a good option for many tumors.

5. Newer treatments pack a targeted punch.

Research has yielded a wealth of information about how lung cancer cells change and grow, enabling scientists to develop drugs to specifically address those changes.

These “targeted” drug therapies, used alone or in combination with chemotherapy, are typically less toxic and have fewer side effects than chemotherapy because they zero in on specific genes or proteins more often found in cancer cells then in healthy tissue.

These are some of the targeted therapies currently available for lung cancer

  • Monoclonal antibodies (bevacizumab, ramucirumab)
  • EGFR inhibitors (erlotinib, afatinib, gefitinib)
    • Osimertinib, an EGFR inhibitor that also targets cells with the T790M mutation
    • Necitumumab, an EGRF inhibitor for squamous cell non-small cell lung cancer
  • Drugs that target the ALK gene (crizotinib, ceritinib, alectinib)


“The predictive powers of a cholesterol test only go so far. If your LDL is low, your C-reactive protein may be a better sign of impending heart trouble.  The gap between knowing what’s good for you and actually doing it can be huge, especially when it comes to something like getting exercise. (Never underestimate the appeal of the sedentary life.) Many of us need a warning-some might say a bit of a kick in the pants-before we’ll change our ways and get with a heart-healthy program.”

Harvard Health Publishing/Harvard Medical School


How High C-Reactive protein can risk your chance of Heart Disease!

Your body produces C-reactive protein, or CRP, when something is starting to become inflamed. So if a doctor finds CRP in your blood, which he can do through a test, he’ll know there’s inflammation (or swelling) happening somewhere in your body.If your arteries are inflamed, you have a greater risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Peripheral arterial disease

C-Reactive Protein & Heart Disease Risk

CRP seems to predict the chance of having cardiovascular problems at least as well as cholesterol levels. A recent study found that elevated levels of C-reactive protein led to a three-times-greater risk of a heart attack.

They also were more likely to have a cardiac procedure, like angioplasty (a procedure that opens clogged arteries with the use of a flexible tube) or bypass surgery, than those with the lowest CRP levels.

How Is C-Reactive Protein Measured?

It’s done with a simple blood test. It can be done at the same time your cholesterol is checked.

Your chance of having heart disease is determined based on your test results:

Test Result Risk
Less than 1.0 mg Low
1.0-2.9 mg Intermediate
Greater than 3.0 mg High

It’s important to note that inflammation due to other things, like an infection, illness, or serious flare-up of arthritis, can also raise CRP levels. So before you get the CRP test, make sure to tell your doctor what other medical conditions you have.

When should I be tested for CRP?

If you’re at moderate risk for heart disease, it may help your doctor figure out if you need more intensive treatment.

Those at high risk should be treated aggressively, anyway. So CRP testing isn’t recommended for them.

The more of these risk factors you have, the higher your risk of heart disease:

  • A previous heart attack or stroke
  • A family history of heart disease
  • High total cholesterol
  • Low HDL cholesterol
  • High blood pressure
  • Being male or a post-menopausal woman
  • You smoke cigarettes
  • Uncontrolled diabetes or high blood pressure
  • You don’t exercise
  • You’re obese or overweight

What’s the Treatment for High C-Reactive Protein?

It’s important for everyone to make these lifestyle changes to reduce their chance of having heart disease. It’s especially important if your CRP level is intermediate or high:

  • Eat a heart-healthy diet.
  • Get your high cholesterol down.
  • Keep your weight where it should be.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • If you have diabetes or high blood pressure, manage it.
  • If you smoke or use tobacco in another way, quit.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so responsibly.

Taking aspirin may help protect you from heart disease if your CRP is high. By thinning your blood it makes the heart pump easier in doing its job.  This puts the heart at less risk of stressing out=lack of oxygen if stressing out=angina (chest pain).  Statins, the most commonly prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs, may reduce your risk of heart disease if your CRP is high. Talk to your doctor about which treatments are best for you.




“It’s unreasonable to expect you to eat healthy foods 100 percent of the time, but for better health, aim to eat nutritious foods at least 80 percent of the time. That means sweets, snacks and other junk food should only be occasional treats, rather than the bulk of your diet,” says Jason Sayanlar, M.D., FACC, a cardiologist at Hackensack University Medical Center.”

Hackensack Meridian Health



Part II Foods bad in our diet and to avoid (on a routine basis).



Processed Meat

Even though unprocessed meat can be healthy and nutritious, the same is NOT true for processed meats.

Studies show that people who eat processed meats have a higher risk of many serious diseases, including colon cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Most of these studies are observational in nature, so they can not prove that the processed meat caused the diseases.

However, the statistical link is strong and consistent among studies, so I do believe there is something to it.

Alternatives: If you want to eat bacon, sausages, pepperoni and other “processed” meats, then choose wisely and try to buy them locally from sellers who don’t add a lot of unhealthy ingredients. Quality counts.

Processed Cheese

Regular cheese is healthy.

It is loaded with nutrients, and a single slice of cheese contains all the same nutrients as an entire glass of milk.

However, processed cheese products are nothing like regular cheese. They are mostly made with filler ingredients that are combined and engineered to have a similar look and texture as cheese.

Cheese is healthy, but processed cheese is not. Read labels, and make sure that the cheese you’re eating is actually cheese.

Alternatives: Eat real cheese instead.

Most Fast Food Meals

Generally speaking, “fast food” chains serve only junk foods.

The majority of the food they offer is mass-produced, highly engineered junk food with very little nutritional value.

These places are often very cheap, but keep in mind that junk food costs you twice.

For every penny you save there, chances are that it’s going to cost you many times more in the future. Poor health is expensive (obesity, diabetes, hearth disease, hypertension, most I go on).

Alternatives: Fortunately, all sorts of healthy fast food places have started to appear. Chipotle is one great example.

High-Calorie “Coffee” drinks

Coffee has been unfairly demonized.

It is actually very healthy, and loaded with antioxidants.

Studies also show that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of serious diseases, like type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s.

Unfortunately, stuff is sometimes added to coffee that turns this wonderful beverage into harmful sludge.

If your “coffee” has a ton of artificial creamer and sugar, then it is NOT good for you.

It is loaded with liquid, empty calories, and will be just as unhealthy as any other sugar-sweetened beverage.

Alternatives: Drink plain coffee instead. Black is best, but small amounts of heavy cream or full-fat milk are fine as well.

Anything That is High in Sugar, Refined Grains and Vegetable Oils

One of the most important things you can do to eat healthier, is to read labels.

It is important to avoid (or at least minimize) foods that contain:

  • Added sugar (and high fructose corn syrup).
  • Refined grains like white flour.
  • Industrial vegetable oils.
  • Artificial trans fats.

These are some of the unhealthiest (and most common) ingredients in the modern diet.

The importance of reading labels can not be overstated, and this applies to all foods, even so-called health foods.

  1. Most Highly Processed Foods

By far the simplest way to eat healthy and lose weight, is to avoid processed foods as much as possible.

Put simply, if it looks like it was made in a factory, then it’s probably bad for you.

A good rule to remember, is that real food doesn’t need an ingredients list, because real food IS the ingredient.