Wednesday, November 12, 2008

And she's...SAFE!

There has been quite a bit of media attention surrounding Gardasil, the vaccine for the prevention of cervical cancer- does it cause blood clots? miscarriage? shock? death? Well, the 2 year safety study of Gardasil is out, and the verdict is...Gardasil is safe.  Four independent reports on the vaccine's demonstrate safety and specifically the reports show no link between the Gardasil vaccine and potential problems such as blood clots, allergic reactions, strokes, seizures, and Guillain-Barre syndrome. 
What good does this vaccine do? Gardasil provides immunization against the two HPV (human papilloma virus) strains that cause 70% of cervical cancers, and the two strains of HPV that cause 90% of genital warts. Is that a big deal? Ask the families of the nearly 4000 American women who died of cervical cancer last year, or the 11,000 who were diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer. Ask any of the one million  Americans  each year who have to suffer the physical and emotional pain of being treated for genital warts- they'll tell you this is a great vaccine.
Why do some people fear the Gardasil vaccine will promote promiscuity? Did they complain when their child received the hepatitis B vaccine on day two of life? News flash- hepatitis is also transmitted via sex (or IV drug use, but I don't think vaccines promote drug use either.)
BOTTOM LINE: I believe Gardasil can virtually eliminate cervical cancer for our daughters' generation, and greatly reduce the trauma and drama of genital warts. Its safety is well documented, and yes, I will give it to my own daughters. 

Diabetes awareness month

November 2008 is national Diabetes awareness month. So, what should you know about diabetes? Let's start with the basic types. Type 1, or juvenile onset, diabetes is caused by an absolute deficiency of insulin, which is why the treatment involves insulin injections. The type of diabetes that is in the media these days for its rapidly growing numbers is type 2, or adult onset, diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a different ballgame- here, the problem is a resistance to insulin or a decreased production of insulin. Insulin is the key that opens the doors to cells,  allowing sugar to come from the blood and move into the cell to be used as energy. When that door wont unlock (because of resistance to insulin) the sugar levels build up in the blood and eventually cause damage in many parts of the body- the eyes, kidneys, nerves, blood vessels and heart.
What are symptoms of diabetes? Being hungry all the time, thirsty all the time,  having frequent urination, having an unexplained sudden weight loss or developing fatigue are the classic symptoms, but many people have no obvious symptoms. If you are overweight, especially if you have a family history of diabetes, go and see your doctor and get tested for diabetes. A simple fasting blood test  will tell the doctor whether or not your blood sugar is elevated. 
Want to find out more? Go to, the website for the American Diabetes Association.
BOTTOM LINE: An estimated 23.6 million Americans have Diabetes, and 5.7 million of them are undiagnosed. Diabetes can be treated and possibly even prevented with early intervention, so stop worrying or wondering if you have diabetes- get to your doctor and find out!