New Screening Test for Pancreatic Cancer Could Halt Cancer’s Progression

January 30th, 2019

Vials with blood in themA new pancreatic cancer test could detect the disease before it progress to later, deadly stages, new research says.

New Test for Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists have developed tests that pinpoints close to 70 percent of pancreatic cancer with less than five percent false-positive rate, according to the study published this month in “Clinical Cancer Research.”

Pancreatic cancer is detected by calculating the level of sugar the pancreas produces, that leaks into the bloodstream. The new test, however, measures a sugar called sTRA, which comes from a different subset of pancreatic cancers. The traditional test, which measures a sugar known as CA-19-9, only confirms a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

The CA-19-9 test detects only 40 percent of pancreatic cancers, and its only practical use is to track the progression of the disease. When used in combination, both the sTRA and CA-19-9 tests work efficiently to locate the disease in its early stages.

The American Cancer Society says pancreatic cancer accounts for three percent of all cancers and seven percent of all cancer deaths in the United States.

What is Pancreatic Cancer?

Pancreatic cancer begins in the tissues of your pancreas. It typically spreads rapidly to nearby organs

Signs and symptoms of pancreatic cancer often don’t occur until the disease is advanced. They may include:

  • Bloating: Some people with pancreatic cancer have a sense of early fullness with meals or an uncomfortable swelling in the abdomen.
  • Blood clots
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or unintended weight loss
  • Nausea
  • New-onset diabetes
  • Pain in the upper abdomen that radiates to your back: Pancreatic cancer can cause a dull ache in the upper abdomen radiating to the back. The pain may come and go.
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes: As pancreatic cancer blocks the duct that releases bile into the intestine, the ingredients of bile build up in the blood.

Factors that may increase your risk of pancreatic cancer may include:

  • Chronic inflammation of the pancreas
  • Diabetes
  • Family history of genetic syndromes that can increase cancer risk
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer
  • Obesity
  • Older age, as most people are diagnosed after age 65
  • Smoking

You can reduce your risk of pancreatic cancer if you stop smoking and maintain a healthy weight and diet.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to know what is going on in the world of health. Keep up to date with IAA! Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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New Research Says to Eat More Fiber

January 23rd, 2019

Fiber items with a chalkboard in center with the word fiber written on itPeople whose diets are high in fiber have lower risk of death and chronic disease compared with people with low fiber intake, a new analysis found.

New Fiber Analysis

The new meta-analysis of existing research showed that higher intakes of fiber led to a reduction of a broad range of diseases, reduced body weight and total cholesterol, and reduced mortality.

Researchers analyzed over 180 observational studies and 50 clinical trials from the past four decades.

The analysis found a 15 to 30 percent reduced risk of death and chronic diseases in people who included the most fiber in their diets compared with those with the lowest intake.

A fiber rich diet was linked on average to a 22 percent reduced risk of stroke, a 16 percent lower risk of Type 2 diabetes and colorectal cancer, and a 30 percent reduced risk of death from coronary artery disease

The study was commissioned by the World Health Organization to inform future fiber intake recommendations.

For every additional eight grams of dietary fiber a person consumes, the risk for each of those illnesses was found to fall by another five to 27 percent.

Researchers found little evidence that eating more dietary fiber was risky.

One limitation of the analysis is that the studies involved only healthy individuals, so the findings do not apply to people with pre-existing chronic conditions.

The research was published January 10 in the journal, “The Lancet.”  

Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber can be found mainly in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. This includes the parts of plant foods your body cannot digest or absorb. Unlike other food components, such as fats, proteins or carbohydrates, which your body breaks down and absorbs, fiber isn’t digested by your body.

Fiber is classified as soluble, which dissolves in water, or insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve:

  • Insoluble fiber: This type of fiber promotes the movement of material through your digestive system. Whole wheat flour, wheat bran, nuts, beans, cauliflower, green beans, and potatoes, are good sources of insoluble fiber.
  • Soluble fiber: This type of fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like material. It can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Soluble fiber is found in oats, peas, beans, apples, citrus fruits, and barley.

The benefits of a high fiber diet are:

  • Aids in achieving a healthy weight: High fiber foods tend to be more filling than low-fiber foods, so you’re likely to eat less and stay satisfied longer. High fiber foods tend to take longer to eat and be less energy dense, which means they have fewer calories for the same volume of food.
  • Helps control blood sugar levels: In people with diabetes, soluble fiber can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels.
  • Helps you live longer: Studies suggest that increasing your dietary fiber intake is associated with a reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and all cancers.
  • Lowers cholesterol levels: Soluble fiber may help lower total blood cholesterol levels by lowering low-density lipoprotein or “bad cholesterol” levels.

Americans get an average of only 15 grams of fiber a day instead of the 25 to 30 grams that doctors recommend

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to add more fiber to your diet. Adding more fruits and vegetables can be good for your overall health. IAA knows that even a little bit more fiber in your diet can go a long way.

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How Much is Too Much Information on Newborn’s DNA?

January 16th, 2019

Pregnant woman with heart hands over stomachEvery baby born in the United States is given a routine blood test to screen for dozens of inherited medical conditions. Now, the U.S. National Institutes of Health is exploring whether to use DNA sequencing to screen newborn babies for additional genetic abnormalities and disorders

DNA Testing on Newborns

DNA sequencing can identify risks for a wide range of disorders that may not be detected otherwise. Finding these mutations early may lead to helping newborns live better lives and ease the worries of their families.

A program that maps out the genes of newborns has allowed researchers to identify risk for some inherited childhood conditions, many of which can be prevented.

Researchers randomly assigned 128 healthy newborns and 31 ill infants to have their DNA sequenced. Among all babies, 9.4 percent had a gene mutation that increased the risk of a disorder that arises or is manageable during childhood, or a mutation that conferred a moderate risk for a condition for which treatment during childhood might prevent devastating outcomes later in life.

Researchers also offered parents information about their child’s risk for adult-onset conditions. Three of the 85 infants whose parents agreed to receive this information have these types of gene mutations.

More clarity is needed on issues surrounding newborn DNA testing, including consent, accessibility, data privacy, and other potential changes.

The report was published January 3 in the “American Journal of Human Genetics.”

Routine Blood Test

The Recommended Uniform Screening Panel (RUSP) is a list of disorders that are recommended by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for states to screen as part of their state universal newborn screening programs.

Disorders on the RUSP are chosen based on evidence that supports the potential net benefit of screening, the ability of states to screen for the disorder, and the availability of effective treatments.

States ultimately will determine what disorders will be screened.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America is here to bring you the latest health news. New guidelines and recommendations are happening all the time in healthcare so stay tuned for more updates. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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National Healthy Weight Week is January 20-26

January 9th, 2019

Apple sitting next to small weightsThe concept behind Healthy Weight Week is to celebrate healthy, diet free living habits that last a lifetime.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is important to overall health and can help you prevent and control many diseases and conditions

If you are overweight or obese you are at a higher risk of developing serious health problems, including:

  • Breathing problems
  • Certain cancers
  • Gallstones
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes

Energy balance is important for maintaining a healthy weight. The amount of energy or calories you get from food and drinks (energy IN) is balanced with the energy your body uses for things like breathing, digesting food and being physically active (energy OUT). When you break it down:

  • The same amount of energy IN and OUT over time=weight stays the same (energy balance)
  • More energy IN than OUT over time=weight gain
  • More energy OUT than IN over time=weight loss

To maintain a healthy weight, your energy IN and OUT doesn’t have to balance exactly every day. It is the balance over time that helps you maintain a healthy weight.

Setting Goals

Creating goals can make the difference between success and failure. Realistic, well planned goals keep you focused and motivated. They provide a plan for change as you transition to a healthier lifestyle.

A good goal setting strategy is the SMART checklist:

  1. Specific: A good goal includes specific details. Declare what you will do, how long you will do it and when you will do it.
  2. Measurable: If you can measure a goal, than you can objectively determine how successful you are at meeting a goal.
  3. Attainable: An attainable goal is one that you have enough time and resources to achieve.
  4. Relevant: It’s important to set goals that are relevant and meaningful to you and where you’re at in your life right now. Don’t set goals that someone else wants you to obtain. Ask yourself, what’s most important to you, and then determine your goals.
  5. Time-limited: Pick your goal and set a deadline accordingly.

A healthy lifestyle requires balance in the foods you eat, the beverages you drink, the way you do daily activities, adequate sleep, stress management, and in the amount of activity in your daily routine.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to stop the yo-yo dieting! Make goals that can fit into your lifestyle, not what works for the moment. IAA encourages you to take National Healthy Weight Week head on!

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“Wait and See” Approach No Longer Recommended for Infant Hemangiomas

January 3rd, 2019

Heart wearing a stethoscopeThose red or bruise looking birth marks on babies used to be of no concern to doctors and parents, but this hands-off approach may no longer be the best solution.

New Guidelines for Hemangiomas

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) first infantile hemangioma clinical practice guideline discourages the traditional “wait and see” approach. Instead, the report calls for early identification of certain hemangiomas that may cause scarring or medical problems.

The AAP emphasizes that early identification and monitoring is essential to allow for timely treatment that can prevent medical complications or permanent disfigurement.  

The report is entitled “Clinical Practice Guideline of Infantile Hemangiomas.”  The guideline appeared December 24 online in the journal, “Pediatrics.”

Hemangiomas are the most common benign tumor of the skin. They are also known as:

  • Port wine stain
  • Salmon patch
  • Strawberry hemangioma

Hemangiomas occur in up to five percent of infants.

What is a Hemangioma?

A hemangioma is a birthmark that most commonly appears as a rubbery, bright red nodule of extra blood vessels under the skin.  It is not clear what causes the blood vessels to group together.

A hemangioma grows during the first year of life and then recedes over time. A child who had a hemangioma during infancy usually has little visible trace of the growth by age 10. The hemangioma typically starts off as a flat red mark. During a child’s first year, the red mark grows rapidly and becomes a spongy mass that protrudes from the skin. The hemangioma then enters the rest phase, and eventually it begins to slowly disappear.

A hemangioma can occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly appears on the:

  • Back
  • Chest
  • Face
  • Scalp

Treatment of a hemangioma usually isn’t needed, unless the nodule interferes with vision or breathing. Hemangiomas located on certain parts of the body are more likely to become open sores, bleed, become infected, and scar. Those near the eyes, nose or mouth may affect a child’s ability to see, eat or breathe, according to the AAP.

It is best to treat problematic hemangiomas by one month of age.

What IAA has to Say

While birthmarks can be cute and distinctive, if you feel concerned, Insurance Administrator of America wants you to speak up! Contact your child’s pediatrician if you feel that their birthmark is becoming a health issue. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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