Carcinoma of the cervix is the second most common cancer in women worldwide. Awareness regarding cervical cancer and its prevention is quite low if we are to talk about people from developing countries such as Cambodia. Most women do not have enough knowledge regarding the symptoms, risk factors, preventive measures and screening tests that are readily available in major clinics and hospitals in Phnom Penh.
Most women are not aware that they have acquired it already since the disease leaves no marks of precancerous symptoms and can only be detected through standard screening tests. Luckily, cervical cancer is both preventable and treatable.
The cervix is the lower end of a woman’s uterus. It connects the uterus and the vagina. Cervical cancer can develop when cells lining the cervix grow in a disorderly fashion. This cancer is usually caused by a virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV. HPV is spread through sexual contact. Most women who are sexually active have been exposed to HPV.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
Certain risk factors increase the risk of a woman with HPV in acquiring cervical cancer.
In analyzing eight studies on invasive cancer and two on carcinoma, conducted by International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), between 1985 and 1997, it was concluded that ever-smokers have an excess risk of cervical cancer that persists after controlling for the strong effect of HPV and for other potential progression from infection to cancer (Jose Mutinho, Smoking and Cervical Cancer, 2011). While smoking greatly attributes to development of cervical cancer, women who are into polygamy and those with underlying sexually transmitted diseases have the highest risk.
WOULD IT MANIFEST?
Just as stated above, there are no concrete symptoms of cervical cancer. However, symptoms would arise when precancerous cervical cells become malignant and affect nearby tissue. The most common symptom for women would be abnormal bleeding such as spotting or bleeding between normal periods or after sexual intercourse. Sometimes, menstrual bleeding that lasts longer and heavier than normal could be a sign of cervical cancer as well as pelvic or back pain, pain during sexual intercourse, defecating and urinating pain, and leg swelling.
It is highly recommended to follow a certain guideline to ensure that you are free- from the disease. At age 21, women should already be getting a Pap smear. For some women who will have this test for the first time, it can be a quite scary; nonetheless, the whole procedure is usually done within just a few minutes. The test should always be repeated every two years. This also goes to those who have encountered new sexual partners. Try to limit your number of sexual partners and you will surely avoid partners with high-risk sexual histories. Pelvic examinations are helpful in identifying precancerous conditions in your cervix as well. The pelvic examination usually consists of a soft-tissue evaluation of the lower and upper genital tract, as well as the urethra, bladder, and rectum. It typically consists of visual external inspection, insertion of the speculum, performance of any tests or cytology, and then bimanual examination to determine the size and character of the uterus and ovaries.
You may also avail of a vaccine called the HPV Quadrivalent (Types 6, 11 ,16 and 18) and Recombinant. Vaccines as such showed impressive protection against two types of HPV that cause 70% of cervical cancer cases. It is highly urged for girls ages 11 through 26 to get routine vaccination.
The HPV vaccine is a significant advancement in the protection of women's health. It directly focuses on the infections, which contributes to cervical cancer.
“The development of this vaccine is a product of extraordinary work by scientists as well as by FDA's review teams to help facilitate the development of very novel vaccines to address unmet medical needs. This work has resulted in the approval of a number of new products recently which address significant public health needs," said Andrew C. von Eschenbach, MD, Acting Commissioner of US Food and Drug Authority.
However, women and girls who suffer from severe allergic reactions such as anaphylaxis should first consult their health care professionals before taking an HPV vaccine. Furthermore, HPV vaccines are not recommended for pregnant women.
Be protected, go to the following private and/or public hospitals in Cambodia to avail yourself with an HPV vaccine:
The past four years have seen an increase in new sexually transmitted disease (STD) incidences every January of each year. Globally, before 2015 ended, an estimated 357 million new infections have been reported. The increase in number of STD cases may be pointed to an increased sexual activity during the holiday period, which is pretty evident given the escalating experience of stress the season brings from enduring last minute Christmas shopping, pressured planning of a family trip and/or frustration over a personal fiscal crisis.
Moreover, having an STD after the holidays may be the worst turndown of your life. Most STD are painful and uncomfortable. They could permanently damage your health and worse, women may risk the fertility. STDs are passed from one person to another through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex, by genital contact. Common infections include chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, HIV, non-specific urethritis, pubic lice and scabies, syphilis, trichomonas vaginalis, thrush and bacterial vaginosis.
However, people have the control not to risk their health over sex.
Are you familiar with ‘safe sex’?
Safe sex means that you can more easily enjoy having sex with a new partner, and you don’t need to stress about the worrying after effects of HIV, STDs or unplanned pregnancy - three things that you don’t want to be stuck with after the holiday romance is over.
Here are some simple ways you can practice safe sex during the holidays.
1. Use condoms every time you have sex with anyone, even if it’s ‘just’ oral sex. It is easy to use and are readily available in pharmacies or at supermarkets. Condoms do not only prevent STD but it also help with family control.
2. Be monogamous as much as possible. Limit the number of people you have sex with. The safest sex is with one partner who has sex only with you. Every time you add a new sex partner, you are being exposed to all the diseases that all of their partners may have had. It just gets messy!
3. Be open and communicate with your sexual partner. Ask him/her about his/her sexual history. It’s especially important to find out whether they’ve ever had an STD. Talk to your partner about your sexual health concerns and agree on which sexual activities you both feel comfortable with and how you’re going to protect yourselves from infection.
4. Be Sober. Do not mix alcohol/drugs and sex. Mixing sex with alcohol or drugs increases the chance of unintended pregnancy and STDs, because when you drink or take drugs, you are much less likely to think clearly about safe sex. Alcohol and drugs lower your inhibitions, which can make it easier to be sexual. This may feel great in the moment, but the next day the regrets could come flooding in. Stay sober so you can have safe sex every time and never wake up with regrets!
5. Oral sex will also put you at risk. Many believe that STDs can only be acquired through vaginal or anal sex. Oral sex may not get you pregnant but there is an equal high chance of getting an STD.
6. More than anything else, have fun! Aside from the actual intercourse, there are other fun gestures you may do to your partner that limits your risk of acquiring STD: hugging, kissing, touching, massages, sexy conversations and other forms of foreplay.
Practicing safe sex is something everyone should enforce, not only during the holiday season but also in your everyday routine. Remember that practicing it won’t spoil the enjoyment and passion you have in your relationship. Protections are meant to stray you away from unwanted lifelong illnesses.
Pop into Women-Baby’s Centre Anna to get confidential, professional family planning advice. We also offer HIV/STD testing to help you take control of your health.
Though the holidays are almost over, being knowledgeable always places people on the right track with great memories and no regrets.
Dangerous chemicals may be lurking in your drinking water. This depends on several factors, which include the source of water, the treatment provided by the supplier, and the quality of the pipes in your community. Though some chemicals may be harmless given a specific quantity, a huge amount might pose a risk to people
You may have been aware of the prevailing number of typhoid cases in Asia where nearly 22 million cases and 216,500 deaths have been recorded annually. Although Cambodia has managed other waterborne disease such as cholera throughout the years, typhoid fever has been classified as a major waterborne disease in the country (CIA, 2015, World Fact Book). We all know that water is an essential component to living. Our bodies need water to function properly.
No, it’s not the best-selling soda in the market or the alcoholic beverage on a Friday night. But people don't need any other liquid to survive. We need water when we consume food and we need water to cleanse out our bodies’ wastes.
As vital as it is in our system, water also contains many of the nutrients that make us healthy and keep us alive. However, some chemicals in water are also perilous. Most of these excess chemicals in water are "runoffs", or leftover human materials, which are plastics and cans thrown in the vast bodies of water.
So how safe is your drinking water?
There are hundreds of chemical used by bottling industries worldwide. Dangerous chemicals may be lurking in your drinking water. This depends on several factors, which include the source of water, the treatment provided by the supplier, and the quality of the pipes in your community. Though some chemicals may be harmless given a specific quantity, a huge amount might pose a risk to people:
Fluoride has many beneficial characteristics. An optimal level of fluoride in water is safe and effective in preventing tooth decay by at least 25% in both children and adults. By only drinking water, your cavity is already protected. And it also cleans our teeth. Though it can also be quite toxic as it is used in the extremely toxic nerve agent sarin gas.
This material, used in water pipes, can cause a buildup of amyloid beta, a protein that appears to spark brain changes associated with Alzheimer's disease (C. Paddock PhD, Copper in Diet linked to Alzheimer’s Disease).
Chlorine is a chemical element that is essential to human life. However, in anything other than trace amounts, it becomes a toxic gas that irritates the respiratory system. It kills bacteria, but water treated with this chemical can combine with organic matter, like decaying vegetation, to form trihalomethane. Trihalomethanes are suspected to have negative effects on birth such as, low birth weight, intrauterine growth retardation in term births, as well as gestational age and preterm delivery. There are also some evidences showing these by-products to be mutagenic and carcinogenic, the greatest amount of evidence being related to the bladder cancer (M. R. Mohamadshafiee, L. Taghavi, Health Effects of Trihalomethanes as Chlorinated Disinfection by Products: A Review Article).
Inorganic mercury is the most common form that is present in drinking water but is not considered to be very harmful to human health, in terms of the levels found in drinking water. However, kidney damage may also result from exposure to inorganic mercury through other sources such as vaccines and dental amalgam. Exposure to mercury can cause tremors, psychotic reactions, and suicidal tendencies (What Other Toxic Chemicals in Water Affect My Health?, Global Healing Center).
Lead is a poisonous metal that can damage the blood, brain, and disrupt nervous system communications. Exposure to lead through water is generally low in comparison with exposure of lead through air or food. Lead from natural sources is present in tap water to some extent, but analysis of both surface and ground water suggests that lead concentration is fairly low. The main source of lead in drinking water is (old) lead piping and lead-combining solders. Removing old piping is costly and lead continues to dissolve even from old pipes. The amount of lead that may dissolve in water depends on acidity (pH), temperature, water hardness and standing time of the water (World Health Organization, 1993, Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality).
Arsenic is an element that has been used for centuries as a deadly poison. Naturally occurring high concentration of arsenic in deeper levels of groundwater contributes to arsenic contamination. High amounts in drinking water can cause lung damage comparable to decades of smoking tobacco; exposure to even low to moderate amounts can impair lung function (The University of Chicago Medicine Press Release, 2013, Study adds lung damage to harmful effects of arsenic).
Between all these, you have the power to prevent diseases related to the water you choose to drink, by following these specific guidelines:
A. Check with Your Supplier
You may want to ask your supplier to provide you with a copy of the test done by the government on the water they distribute. Water agencies are always required to pass a yearly screening and test. This furnished copy of the goverment test will help you check whether there are any contaminants present in your water and will help prevent any health risks to you and your family (Environmental Protection Agency. Factoids: drinking water and ground water statistics for 2007).
B. Start your own research
Based on the furnished consumer testing copy, you may want to do a comprehensive research on the minerals and chemicals found in your water. Do not feel agitated upon reading a lot of chemical since ample amount are still a basic to water filtration system. You can find online interesting information on emerging contaminants.
C. Do your own water testing
If in circumstance you may not fully consider the result from your supplier’s government test report, you may do your own water testing to double your family’s protection against water-borne diseases. There are private and public water laboratories that will definitely help you monitor the water you drink but also recommend you applicable ways to filter or maintain toxic-free water.
Most people resuming their daily lives this New Year find it hard to regain their sense of sleep and body clock. The holidays throw our schedules off, which in turn confuses our sleeping rhythm. Many people that need to go back to work after the holidays can feel lack of energy and insomnia.
A pivotal way to start regaining your sleeping rhythm is to use "light" substitutes in the morning and "darkness" substitutes in the evening. Upon waking up, it is best to soak up some bright light outside. People can combine this with some outdoor exercise. If going outside isn't possible, spend some time in front of an artificial light box. That will help reset your clock, your circadian rhythms (Russell Rosenberg, Ph.D., CEO of the Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine). Sleep 8-9 hours in an entirely dark room. This meant using dark curtains, wearing an eye mask, and shutting off any electronic device or appliance you have. Light stimulates the pineal gland so even the smallest amount of light can reduce the depth of your sleep.
Another thing that may be worth sacrificing is limiting your caffeinated drinks. For most people who are used to drinking 2-3 coffees a day, you might want to reserve drinking a cup only in the morning. By avoiding having this in late afternoon or evening, you won’t be starting a lack of sleep cycle.
People are also encouraged not to resort to “quick fixes” when they are experiencing post-holidays sleeping issues. Drinking a huge amount of caffeine in the morning or gulping alcohol and sleeping pills at night are the “quick fixes” people thought of as a remedy. However, these are not the answer. Readjustments in the body clock happen slowly and naturally (Rubin Naiman, Ph.D., sleep specialist and clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Arizona's Center for Integrative Medicine). Alcohol disrupts sleep patterns, so avoiding this allows a deeper, more quality of sleep.
However, when you have already tried the aforementioned and still found it hard to get your sleep on track, you may want to add (with direct endorsement of your health care provider or physician) these two herbs to your diet:
The botanical name for this flower is Passiflora incarnate and is an herbal with far-reaching calming effects. The leaves and flowers have a mild flavor, and has a reputation for reducing anxiety and sleeplessness caused by anxiety. It helps people mellow out by boosting the brain’s levels of a chemical called GABA (Gamma Amino Butyric Acid), which lowers your brain activity—decreasing overactive brain cells that often prevent us from getting and staying asleep. One trial proved that people who drank an herbal tea containing passionflower over seven days saw improvements in the quality of their sleep. However, the benefits seemed to be short-term, and it may be most helpful to those with mild sleep irregularities (Ngan A1, Conduit R, 2011, A double-blind, placebo-controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality).
Chamomile, a white-pedaled flower reminiscent of a daisy, is typically dried and steeped into a tea that helps to sooth and relax the body. It helps promote a healthy sleep cycle and overall wellbeing. One of the active compounds in the chamomile plant is apigenin; studies have found that this compound reduced locomotor activity. Flavonoids, mucilages and coumarins are also present in chamomile and may have a calming effect on the body, allowing for a more restful sleep.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and published – in 2012 – in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, people diagnosed with mild to moderate anxiety and depression were given 220 mgs of chamomile extract daily for 8 weeks. Utilizing both the Beck Anxiety Inventory System and the Hamilton Anxiety Rating, researchers found that 57 percent of the group using the chamomile had a significant reduction in their symptoms (A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria Recutita (Chamomile) extract therapy of generalized anxiety disorder).
The holidays could have already brought you the extra stuffing you do not want to bring with this New Year—a fatter belly or a week’s hangover still messing up your days. These things would naturally make you feel sluggish, bloated, tired and lazy. This results from the poor functioning of your liver, which has been working thoroughly most of the time by flushing out excess toxins from your body.
Fortunately, there’s something you can do about it. Ever heard of “Detoxification”?
There are specific powerhouse foods that you need to consume to step up a notch and remove any remaining impurities from your body. Some might provide assistance in your weight loss when your belly have turned stouter from the recent month’s festivities and surely will help your immune system perform better.
Well, you have to start first with creating your very own liver-friendly program. No, it is not a gym routine. It is a type of diet that focuses on your liver’s function. Basically, this diet consists of fresh fruits and vegetables. You read it right—fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that refresh your liver so it’s easier for you to consume foods in the next coming months. It is also highly recommended for you to purchase organic veggies to maintain a free toxic liver.
Of course you may still need to eat meat as our body still needs necessary protein and potassium. However, try reducing the number of meat consumption while you are in such diet as meats require longer chemical processing time in the liver. Same goes to alcohol and caffeine, which are mainly stressing your liver.
THE WONDERS OF MILK THISTLE
A Milk Thistle is an herbal supplement that detoxifies and protects vital liver functions. Used for over two millenniums as a natural treatment for liver disorder, the milk thistle is also used in treating bile duct and spleen disorders. The herb contains a complex of bioflavonoid molecules known collectively as silymarin. Silymarin, which are now produced in capsule supplements, have the ability to protect the liver cells by enhancing the removal of harmful toxins. Its robust properties also regenerate injured liver cells. You may go online and purchase silymarin (or milk thistle) capsules or supplements which are eadily available for shipping.
Furthermore, milk thistle is used to manage alcoholic cirrhosis, chronic active hepatitis, fatty liver, fibrosis and cirrhosis, hepatic toxicity caused by steroid usage, high cholesterol levels, and therapeutic agent for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and high blood sugar levels, even weak digestion.
Proper bowel movement is also highly recommended for cleansing. Without proper bowel movement, you may have a risk of toxin absorption that can affect your body. Fiber is important for good regular bowel movements. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest into sugar molecules. It passes through the body undigested, which in turn helps regulate the body’s use of sugars, helping to keep hunger and blood sugar in check. Soluble fiber, found in oatmeal, nuts, beans, lentils, apples and blueberries, can help lower glucose levels as well as help lower blood cholesterol. Insoluble fiber, found in wheat, whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers and tomatoes, helps food move through your digestive system, promoting regularity and helping prevent constipation.
You may also add linseeds to your food. They are a great source of gluten/wheat free fiber, which promote bowel movement by increasing the water content and bulk volume of our stools. Linseed oil for your juice or garden salad dressing is also available in organic food shops. A plant that contains a great deal of omega 3 fats, it certainly helps improve bowel regularity.
WATER TO OPTIMIZE
Water is needed to flush out wastes and toxins from our body. When we ran out of water or are dehydrated, our boy systems do not function properly, which certainly affect our day-to-day activities. Just as the liver is crucial to the digestive process, the kidneys are necessary for helping the body remove water and waste. The kidney that in about 20 percent of the body’s blood, cleanses it of unwanted substances and then produce urine, which flushes the wastes in a form of fluid. When the kidneys don’t get enough water and can’t function properly, the liver gets called upon to fill in and take on the role of eliminating toxins from our systems and when the liver is busy replacing our kidney’s primary task, it doesn’t metabolize stored fats.
Climate change has been definitely stressed over the recent years. It has not only affected the geographical state of the planet we live in but also affected humanity in numerous significant ways. From the shifting patterns of disease, from extreme weather events, such as heat-waves and floods, and from the degradation of air quality, food and water supplies, and sanitation, climate change is certainly a force to reckon with, especially in the health area.
In 2012, an estimated 7 million people died from air pollution-related diseases, making it the world’s largest single environmental health risk (World Health Organization Climate Change and Health Country Profiles). It is predicted that climate change will cause an additional 250,000 deaths per year from malaria, diarrhea, heat stress and under-nutrition between 2030 and 2050. Children, women and the poor in lower income countries will be the most vulnerable and most affected, thus widening health gaps (World Health Organization Climate Change and Health Country Profiles).
Basically, there are two major ways climate change threatens our health:
Extreme Heat has caused intense hot days and heat waves which claimed over thousand lives just in 2015 globally. In most parts of the world, especially in tropical countries, climate change is making hot summer days hotter and stretching their numbers into heat waves that never seem to end. The heat has affected a number of illnesses and deaths. Extreme heat waves cause the most harm among elderly people and young children. The Ministry of Health in Cambodia’s summer advisory this 2015 flagged that HEATSTROKE is the most severe form of heat illness in Cambodia where the body cannot take off the excessive heat by sweating because of dehydration and/or humid environment.
Regularly check the radio, TV, or online weather services to know details of heat advisories. The public are encouraged to stay indoor if necessary and wear loose clothes and hydrate themselves regularly. Turn on air conditioning while indoors. If A/C isn't available, move to lower, cooler parts of the building, open windows or seek out local cooling centers.
Dengue Fever is definitely a disease people should watch out during climate change. As temperatures increase and rainfall patterns change - and summers become longer - these insects can remain active for longer seasons and in wider areas, greatly increasing the risk for people who live there. On a global scale: increases in heat, precipitation, and humidity can allow tropical and subtropical insects to move from regions where infectious diseases thrive into new places (Fever Pitch, Mosquito Born Dengue Fever). According to the country’s National Malaria Center, 7,799 cases of dengue during the first 34 weeks of 2015 have been recorded, a 350 percent increase from 2014’s 2,227 cases in the same period (Ouch Sony, 2015, The Cambodia Daily). However, fatality rate has dropped compared with 2014 despite high figures of cases.
Get rid of any stagnant water near your home where mosquitoes could breed (such as in empty flower pots, old tires, and empty containers). Also, apply mosquito repellants to protect yourself from any mosquito bites. Wear loose, light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Despite these two major threats to human health, the public are advised to maintain their health through personal healthy habit. Remind yourself that a fit, healthy body is more resistant to health hazards that affect our bodies. Healthwise Digest encourages everyone to maintain a weight that is fitting for your height and build. Get a Body Mass Index screening and review your weight standing. Also, reduce the amount of sugar, salt, fat and processed food when consuming foods. Again exercise is a key to a healthful and well-protected immune system. Limit your intake of alcohol and take the opportunity to rest and sleep whenever you have the time.
One of the main causes of eyesight loss in industrialized countries is Glaucoma. According to the World Health Organization, it is the second leading cause of blindness in the world (Resnikoff et al., WHO, 2002).
Practically, everyone is at risk of glaucoma. Older people are at a higher risk for glaucoma but babies can be born with glaucoma. In Cambodia alone, chronic glaucoma was the second commonest cause of bilateral blindness next to cataract. This is evident in about 16.7% of children in the country who lost their eyesight and who have the cause directly diagnosed to glaucoma (Ian Thompson, A clinic based survey of blindness and eye disease in Cambodia, British Journal of Opthalmology)
In cooperation with the Glaucoma Awareness initiative around the world this month, we want to make sure that the public has enough idea how they can test their eyes and prevent this devious health condition. Glaucoma is a sneaky disease that threatens your vision.
Although it has symptoms, the best way to detect the disease is by having regular eye examinations. Early detection and treatment can prevent blindness in 90 percent of people with glaucoma.
The two most common forms of glaucoma are primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG) and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG).
Open-angle glaucoma is often called "the sneak thief of sight" because it has no symptoms until significant vision loss has occurred. Vision is normal and there is no pain. However, when left untreated, you vision is slowly getting blurred until it decreases sight and you are left blind.
Meanwhile, angle-closure glaucoma causes a sudden increase in eye pressure. You may feel redness and swelling, severe eye pain, Headache, nausea and vomiting.
You may also ask your ophthalmologist for a test with his/her ophthalmoscope. The instrument gives your doctor a chance to see your optic nerves through the pupil of your eye. The color and appearance of the nerve can indicate damage from glaucoma.
In Cambodia, you can most private and public clinics and hospitals have an available eye-test to diagnose glaucoma. For public hospitals, visit the Preah Ang Duong Hospital, Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital and/or the Municipal Referral Hospital. You may also make an appointment at private health centers such as Meng Rutnin Eye Clinic, Agarwal Eye Hospital, Do San Clinic and/or Mondial Eye Clinic.