Category Archives: Early Disease Detection

Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Breast Cancer Prevention: Single is Better Than Double Mastectomy

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In spite of the recent trend of undergoing double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer in women, a new study suggests that single mastectomy may already be enough for early-stage cancer.

This was confirmed by a team of researchers led by Dr. Nicolas Ajkay of the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky. In the study presented during the 2015 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, the research team looked into the benefits and disadvantages of single (or unilateral) mastectomy and double mastectomy for non-hereditary breast cancer in its early stage. The study focused on cases wherein the cancer cells were found on only one breast. Data from earlier studies on mastectomy were cross-referenced with the quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), a parameter that measures the quality of life of a person.

Results revealed that in a span of 20 years, patients who underwent single mastectomy were found to have 0.21 more QALYs than those who had both of their breasts removed. The QALY figure is equivalent to an additional 3 months of healthy life. Dr. Ajkay attributed the lower QALYs in double mastectomy patients to “struggling with surgical complications of reconstruction, lost work productivity and significant emotional hardship,” as reported in a news item.

In terms of costs (including regular screenings for 20 years), the average overall costs for single mastectomy was $13,525. In contrast, double mastectomy procedures cost $18,577 over a 20-year period. “Even under worst-case scenarios, we found that costs and quality of life were superior with unilateral mastectomy. With our study results, I can counsel patients that they may incur a higher cost over their lifetime with a lower quality of life for several months if they choose (double mastectomy),” Dr. Ajkay said.


Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Angelina Jolie’s Preventive Mastectomy Increased Public Awareness, Says Study

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angelina jolie

Breast cancer has been a well-documented and properly investigated disease, especially with millions of women around the world developing the disorder. Despite this, many women in past years were not able to receive sufficient advice about the issues surrounding breast cancer, including the idea of reconstructive surgery and preventive measures. It wasn’t until Angelina Jolie announced her preventive double mastectomy that the world took notice.

This was discovered by a recent study published in the journal Cancer. According to study lead author Dr. David B. Lumenta, “This is the first prospective report to prove the media’s effect on the health care-related issue of breast cancer among the general public,” said Lumenta in a news article.

The study conducted a survey on 1,000 women who were asked about reconstructive breast surgery. The first batch was asked one month before Jolie released her statement, and the other batch surveyed a month after the announcement. Results of the survey are as follows:

  • An increase by 4 percent was observed in women’s awareness on the possibility of reconstructive surgery.
  • Awareness on using a patient’s own tissue as the source of breast reconstructive surgery increased by 11 percent.
  • A 19-percent boost in awareness on breast reconstruction during double mastectomy was observed.

Jolie’s announcement in 2013 catapulted the term “BRCA1 gene mutation” into public awareness. The gene abnormality was discovered to be a potential risk factor for cancer development.

[ Image source: Gage Skidmore via Wikipedia Creative Commons ]


Early Disease Detection

About Half of Asian and Latino Diabetes Sufferers Remain Undiagnosed

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type 2 diabetes treatment

More than half of Asian Americans and almost half of Hispanic Americans who have diabetes remain undiagnosed, according to the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Using newly available data from 2011-2012, the CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), researchers were able to quantify diabetes prevalence for Asian Americans for the first time and found that they have the highest proportion of diabetes that was undiagnosed among all ethnic and racial subgroups studied, at 51%. Diabetes was also common in Asian Americans, at 21%. Hispanic Americans had the highest prevalence of diabetes at nearly 23%, with 49% of that undiagnosed.

The results were published Sept. 8 in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The data also found that Asian Americans often develop type 2 diabetes at a lower body mass index (BMI). The NHANES data showed the average BMI for all Asian Americans surveyed was under 25. For the U.S. population overall, the average BMI was just below 29. A BMI of 25 to under 30 is considered overweight, and a BMI of 30 or greater is considered obese. The American Diabetes Association recommends Asian Americans get tested for diabetes at a BMI of 23 or higher, a lower BMI threshold than the general population.

“The large proportion of people with undiagnosed diabetes points to both a greater need to test for type 2 diabetes and a need for more education on when to test for type 2 diabetes, especially since populations such as Asian Americans may develop type 2 at a lower body mass than other groups,” said the study’s senior author, Catherine Cowie, Ph.D., director of diabetes epidemiology programs at the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Most Americans’ Hearts are Older Than They Are

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Three out of every four Americans may have a heart that is older than their actual age, a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

“Heart age” is a calculation of the age of a person’s cardiovascular system based on their risk factor profile. The risks include:

  • high blood pressure,
  • cigarette smoking,
  • diabetes status, and
  • body mass index as an indicator for obesity.

The report shows that heart age varies by race/ethnicity, gender, region, and other sociodemographic characteristics

CDC researchers used risk factor data collected from every U.S. state and information from the Framingham Heart Study to determine that nearly 69 million adults aged 30 – 74 have a heart age older than their actual age.

“Too many U.S. adults have a heart age years older than their real age, increasing their risk of heart disease and stroke,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “Everybody deserves to be young – or at least not old – at heart.”

Key findings in the report include:

  • The average heart age for adult men is 8 years older than their chronological age.
  • The average heart age for adult women is 5 years older than their chronological age.
  • Heart age exceeds chronological age for all race/ethnic groups.
  • Heart age is highest among African-American men and women (average of 11 years older for both).
  • Among both U.S. men and women, excess heart age increases with age and decreases with greater education and household income.
  • There are geographic differences in average heart age across states.
  • Adults in the Southern U.S. typically have higher heart ages.
  • Mississippi, West Virginia, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Alabama have the highest percentage of adults with a heart age 5 years or more over their actual age.
  • Utah, Colorado, California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts have the lowest percentage of adults with a heart age above their actual age.

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Lack of Vitamin D May Cause Multiple Sclerosis

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vitamin D

Lack of vitamin D may be a direct cause of multiple sclerosis, a new study has found.

MS, a potentially disabling auto-immune disease that damages nerve fibres, tends to be more prevalent in places that get less sunshine and sunshine triggering a chemical reaction in the skin is the primary source of vitamin D.

While previous studies have suggested an association between lower vitamin D levels and a higher risk of MS, this latest study has demonstrated a genetic correlation that points strongly to a causal link.

Scientists checked the DNA of nearly 34,000 people and identified variants in the genetic code that were closely associated with a vitamin D blood marker.

A comparison between thousands of MS sufferers and healthy individuals found that people whose genetic makeup was associated with a lack of vitamin D  were at least twice as likely to have multiple sclerosis.

Writing in the online journal Public Library of Science Medicine, the authors, led by Dr Brent Richards from McGill University in Canada, wrote: “The identification of vitamin D as a causal susceptibility factor for MS may have important public health implications, since vitamin D insufficiency is common, and vitamin D supplementation is both relatively safe and cost-effective.

“The importance of these findings may be magnified in high-latitude countries, which have disproportionately higher rates of MS and also higher rates of vitamin D insufficiency.”

The finding provided “strong evidence in support of a causal role of vitamin D in MS susceptibility”, said the scientists.

They added: “Whether vitamin D sufficiency can delay or prevent multiple sclerosis onset merits further investigation in long-term randomized controlled trials.”

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Teenager Continues To Survive HIV Even Without Treatment For 12 Years

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HIV case remission 12 years

A rare case of someone diagnosed with HIV has been trending since the news broke out yesterday because of one significant detail: The patient has survived even without medication or therapy for 12 years.

The female patient, now 18 years of age, was born with the virus because her mother had HIV while carrying her in the womb. The first six years of the patient’s life involved antiretroviral therapy, as reported in a news release. Despite having stopped therapy at the request of the family, she has been in remission for the past 12 years.

Medical experts are surprised by these new findings, but say that it’s too early to say that a cure has been found. The French National Agency for Research on AIDS director Professor Jean-François Delfraissy said that this development “should not be equated with a cure.” In fact, the patient is still diagnosed as HIV-positive, based on progress monitoring over the years. “This young woman is still infected by HIV and it is impossible to predict how her state of health will change over time.”

What’s clear at this point, though, is the importance of immediate medical attention upon the discovery of HIV in a person’s body. “Her case, though, constitutes a strong additional argument in favor of initiation of antiretroviral therapy as soon as possible after birth in all children born to [HIV positive] mothers,” added Delfraissy.

The discovery was revealed through a study by the Institut Pasteur in Paris as presented during the 8th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference.


Early Disease Detection

Scientists Create Breathalyzer For Major Diseases

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mouth breathalyzer

The world of medical technology is set to welcome a breakthrough in detecting major diseases, as a group of Australian scientists are in the process of creating the unique device.

The research team from Australia’s University of Adelaide is currently developing a system that uses laser technology to detect diseases from a patient’s breath. The device uses laser spectrometry to analyze the components of a sample of gas — in this case, the person’s exhaled breath. “Rather than sniffing out a variety of smells as a dog would, the laser spectrometry system uses light to ‘sense’ the range of molecules that are present in the sample,” said study co-author Dr. James Anstie in a news report.

Disease detection using a breath analysis device is a much better technology because it is safe and non-intrusive. Analysis is accomplished fast and in real-time.

The researchers are hopeful that this new testing technology makes disease detection much more convenient, although fine-tuning is required to improve accuracy of results. “We now have a robust system to be able to detect the presence and concentrations of molecules in a sample. The next step is to work out how to accurately sample and interpret the levels which will naturally vary from person to person,” Anstie added. Still, the testing procedure is projected to be able to detect major diseases such as cancer and diabetes.


Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

HIV Tests in the Future May be as Simple as Pregnancy Tests

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The HIV test of the future might be as hassle-free as a pregnancy test … and it was invented by a teenager.

Although still in development, a new HIV test may be able to detect the disease from a drop of blood as quickly as a week after a person contracts it. The test would also be disposable and easy to use in underdeveloped countries where HIV and AIDS runs rampant.

Nicole Ticea of Vancouver, BC, invented the early-stage HIV test for a science fair at York House School. She ended up taking home first place for the invention. With the help of Simon Fraser University researchers Professor Mark Brockman Gursev Anmole, the teen created the rapid blood analysis by developing an isothermic nucleic acid amplification system, which allows researchers to detect certain targets in DNA — in this case, HIV infection.

The test is a long way from mass production at this point, but if it is found to be as effective as the teen hopes it will be, it could help stop the spread of HIV and AIDS in underdeveloped countries by quickly, easily and affordably alerting people that they have the infection.

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

New Blood Test Could Predict Alzheimer’s Disease by a Full Decade

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Alzheimer's disease

A new blood test could predict if someone is going to develop Alzheimer’s disease by up to 10 years, scientists have announced.

British researchers have identified a single blood protein that acts as a warning sign for mild cognitive impairment – a disorder that is often the precursor to dementia.

In the largest study of its kind, the researchers measured more than 1,100 proteins in the blood of 106 pairs of twins. They tracked the 212 healthy adults over 10 years and found those whose thinking skills diminished the most had lower levels of an individual protein called MAPKAPK5.

The research is still at an early stage, but scientists hope that it might be developed into a test that can help identify those who are at risk of developing dementia.

Study author Dr Steven Kiddle, of King’s College London, said: “Although we are still searching for an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, what we do know is that prevention of the disease is likely to be more effective than trying to reverse it. The next step will be to replicate our finding in an independent study, and to confirm whether or not it is specific for Alzheimer’s disease, as this could lead to the development of a reliable blood test which would help clinicians identify suitable people for prevention trials.”

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Early Disease Detection Health & Wellness

Study Links Celiac Disease with Increased Risk of Nerve Damage

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People who have the digestive disorder known as celiac disease appear to be at an increased risk for nerve damage, a new study by Swedish researchers suggests.

The researchers looked at more than 28,000 people who have celiac disease and a control group of more than 139,000 people who do not have celiac disease. Those with celiac disease were 2.5 times more likely to be diagnosed with nerve damage than those without it. Nerve damage is medically known as neuropathy.

However, the researchers pointed out, the risk of nerve damage is still low and the study, published online May 11 in the journal JAMA Neurology, does not show a cause-and-effect relationship.

“We found an increased risk of neuropathy in patients with celiac disease that persists after celiac disease diagnosis,” Dr. Jonas Ludvigsson, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues wrote.

“Although absolute risks for neuropathy are low, celiac disease is a potentially treatable condition with a young age of onset. Our findings suggest that screening could be beneficial in patients with neuropathy,” the researchers concluded.

When people with celiac disease eat gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley, they develop problems in their small intestine.

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