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Diabetes: African Americans Deadly Foe

by: Drahcir Semaj

Diabetes is having a devastating effect on the African American community. Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death in African Americans and their death rates are twenty seven percent higher than whites.

Over 2.8 million African Americans have diabetes and one third of them don’t know they have the disease. In addition, twenty five percent of African Americans between the ages of 65 – 74 have diabetes and one in four African American women, over the age of 55, have been diagnosed with the disease

The cause of diabetes is a mystery, but researchers believe that both genetics and environmental factors play roles in who will develop the disease.

Heredity

Researchers believe that African Americans and African Immigrants are predisposed to developing diabetes. Research suggests that African Americans and recent African immigrants have inherited a "thrifty gene" from their African ancestors.

This gene may have enabled Africans to use food energy more efficiently during cycles of feast and famine. Now, with fewer cycles of feast and famine, this gene may make weight control more difficult for African Americans and African Immigrants.

This genetic predisposition, coupled with impaired glucose tolerance, is often associated with the genetic tendency toward high blood pressure. People with impaired glucose tolerance have higher than normal blood glucose levels and are at a higher risk for developing diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes, commonly know as “sugar diabetes”, is a condition that occurs when the body is unable to properly produce or use insulin. Insulin is needed by the body to process sugar, starches and other foods into energy. Diabetes is a chronic condition for which there is no known cure; diabetes is a serious disease and should not be ignored.

Diabetics often suffer from low glucose levels (sugar) in their blood. Low blood sugar levels can make you disorientated, dizzy, sweaty, hungry, have headaches, have sudden mood swings, have difficulty paying attention, or have tingling sensations around the mouth.

Types of Diabetes

Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person's blood glucose levels is higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type II diabetes. Pre-diabetes can cause damage to the heart and circulatory system, but pre-diabetes can often be controlled by controlling blood glucose levels. By controlling pre-diabetes you can often prevent or delay the onset of Type II diabetes.

Type I or juvenile-onset diabetes usually strikes people under the age of 20, but can strike at any age. Five to ten percent of African Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes are diagnosed with this type of the disease. Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease where the body produces little or no insulin and this type of diabetes must be treated with daily insulin injections.

Type II or adult onset diabetes is responsible for ninety to ninety-five percent of diagnosed diabetes cases in African Americans. Type II results from a condition where the body fails to properly use insulin. According to the American Diabetes Association, “Type II is usually found in people over 45, who have diabetes in their family, who are overweight, who don't exercise and who have cholesterol problems.” In the early stages it can often be controlled with lifestyle changes, but in the later stages diabetic pills or insulin injections are often needed.

Pregnancy related diabetes or gestational diabetes can occur in pregnant women. Gestational diabetes is often associated with high glucose blood levels or hyperglycemia. Gestational diabetes affects about four percent of all pregnant women. The disease usually goes away after delivery, but women who suffer from gestational diabetes are at a higher risk for developing diabetes later in life.

Symptoms of Diabetes

The most common symptoms of diabetes include:

excessive urination including frequent trips to the bathroom

increased thirst

increased appetite

blurred vision

unusual weight loss

increased fatigue

irritability

Complications from Diabetes

Diabetes can lead to many disabling and life threatening complications. Strokes, blindness, kidney failure, heart disease, and amputations are common complications that effect African Americans who have diabetes

Kidney Disease

“Diabetes is the second leading cause of end stage kidney disease in African Americans, accounting for about thirty percent of the new cases each year,” says the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois. Up to twenty-one percent of people who develop diabetes will develop kidney disease.

Amputations

Diabetes is the leading cause of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations in the United States. More than sixty percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations in America occur among people with diabetes and African Americans are almost three times more likely to have a lower limb amputated due to diabetes than whites. According to Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 82,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed among people with diabetes in 2001.

Blindness

African Americans are twice as likely to suffer from diabetes related blindness. Diabetics can develop a condition called “Diabetic Retinopathy”, a disease affecting the blood vessels of the eye, which can lead to impaired vision and blindness. Diabetes is the leading cause of new cases of blindness in people from 20 – 74 years of age and up to 24,000 people loose their sight each year because of diabetes.

Heart Disease

People with diabetes are up to four times more likely to develop heart disease as people who don’t have diabetes. Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) is more common in diabetics and can lead to increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, and poor circulation throughout the body.

Diabetes Risk Factors

You have a greater risk for developing diabetes if you have any of the following:

Obesity

Family history of diabetes

Pre-diabetes

Low physical activity

Age greater than 45 years

High blood pressure

High blood levels of triglycerides

HDL cholesterol of less than 35

Previous diabetes during pregnancy or baby weighing more than 9 pounds

Diabetes has had a devastating effect on the African American community; it is the fifth leading cause of death and second leading cause of end stage kidney disease in African Americans.

African Americans suffer from complications from diabetes at a much higher rate than the rest of the population. African Americans are three times more likely to have a lower limb amputated because of diabetes and twice as likely to suffer from diabetes related blindness.

If you have any of the diabetes risk factors you should contact your physician and have a blood glucose test. Also discuss with your physician lifestyle changes you can take to lower your chances of developing diabetes.

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Will Stem Cells Eventually Cure All Disease?

by: Stephanie McIntyre
Few areas of medical research are generating as much interest as stem cells। There are several reasons why they are receiving so much scientific attention। They are able to divide into copies of themselves. They’re unspecialized. And they can produce other cell types.

Unlike other cell types, stem cells can divide into identical copies of themselves, and can do so for the life of the organism। Other specialized cell types are unable to do this। When they are damaged they cannot create replacement cells of the same type। Stem cells are unspecialized. They don’t have tissue-specific functions or properties like red blood cells or nerve cells. They can’t oxygenate the body or make parts of it move or carry nerve impulses. They can however through a process called differentiation, divide and produce or give rise to other specialized cell types (blood cells, heart muscle cells, etc.) Of great interest to scientists is the ability of stem cells to replicate many times over (proliferate), and remain unspecialized until called upon to differentiate into a specific cell type for repair of the body. Understanding this process is key to controlling the differentiation process and growing specific cells for, among other things, cell-based therapies. A large part of the research effort is on the ability of stem cells to replace damaged cells in the body. As stem cells can, under the right conditions, be induced to become other cell types, they may be used to replace cells damaged or lost to injury or disease. It’s thought that there is the potential to produce, through continued research, cures for diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes, or to repair devastating injuries to the spinal cord. Stem cells come in two varieties. The type that can differentiate into any adult cell type (pluripotent), or those that are limited in the types they can become (multipotent). Pluripotent stem cells are found in very early development organisms and multipotent stem cells among differentiated cells of the body. The pluripotent cells used in research are derived from mammalian embryos in the very early stages of development (4-6 days old). Human embryos for stem cell research are those that are the result of in-vitro fertilization and donated, they are not from intra-uterine fertilization. These embryonic stem cells can potentially become each (more than 200) of the bodies cell types. This ability to produce other cell types makes them a source for regenerative medicine and tissue replacement therapies. Though no treatments have been derived from embryonic stem cells yet, this is not unusual for any early research field so it’s still very promising. Multipotent stem cells are found throughout the various tissue types of the body including cord blood. Though unspecialized, they can only produce cells of they type in which they are found. They repair and maintain those types of cells. Blood forming adult stem cells in the bone marrow repair and replace blood cell types like red blood cells and white blood cells and platelets. Retinal stem cells only replace and repair the retina. While it was generally believed that multipotent cells can only produce a limited number of different cells, recent research seems to indicate that they may not be as limited as previously thought. Because stem cells can repair and replace damaged tissues, they are considered to be important to regenerative medicine (growing and replacing damaged tissue, or making natural healing work faster). Understandably there is a great deal of work being done in this area. Stem cell research has given hope to many suffering from untreatable or incurable diseases and injuries that an answer to their health issues may be on the horizon. While these new therapies may be years away, science is making steady progress in understanding the process that make stem cells so promising. One can only be encouraged by the progress made so far and hopeful that all of the optimistic projections are realized.

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Acne Fact and Fiction! Do Stress, Facials and Concealer's Help to Promote or Reduce Acne Breakouts?

Acne Fact and Fiction! Do Stress, Facials and Concealer's Help to Promote or Reduce Acne Breakouts?

by: Stephen M. Seabrook

What is Acne? People have differing opinions as to what acne really is. So, what exactly is acne? Do a couple of occasional but recurring zits qualify as a case of acne or do you have to have a lot of zits?

Believe it or not, the answer is that occasional pimples or zits do not constitute a true case of acne. Although zits do seem to have the ability to appear almost instantaneously and at the most inopportune times like picture day, prom night, spelling bees, sporting events, dates, and special award ceremonies, they are not a true acne outbreak.

The dictionary defines acne as "an inflammatory disease of the sebaceous glands, characterized by comedones and pimples, especially on the face, back, chest, and, in severe cases, by cysts and nodules resulting in scarring."

The anatomical definition of sebaceous glands is: "small subcutaneous glands usually connected with hair follicles. The follicles secrete an oily semi-fluid matter, composed in great part of fat, which softens and lubricates the hair and skin."

Real acne outbreaks are actually a disease of the skin. However, the great news is that acne is treatable. Although it can be very embarrassing, cause great emotional distress, and lower your personal self-esteem for a period of time, acne is not fatal.

There are new and effective treatments being sought by researchers and great advances have been made in the treatment of acne in the last few years. Years ago, when a person had acne, they were pretty much stuck with the problem. There were very few treatments available and the medical profession didn't even consider acne a disease.

It was long thought that acne was the direct result of a diet that was too high in fat and/or sweets. That is no longer the case. Acne is most often associated with puberty and the onset of pre-teen and teenage years but it can and does develop in adults as well. When acne does finally heal, there can be permanent scars left (from picking and popping) that are unsightly and cause patients to suffer long term emotional distress and low self- esteem.

New and very effective skin resurfacing treatments have been developed over the last several years that have, if not completely removed acne scars, at least diminished their appearance and severity.

Acne Fact or Fiction:

You can hear a lot of tall tales about acne today, so let's take a look at the fact or fiction of acne. It is always better to be well armed with factual information so that you don't get fooled by the fictional facts that surround acne.

Fictional Fact #1: Acne is caused by a lack of sexual activity.

Factual Fact: Acne and sexual activity are two entirely separate issues. One has no bearing on the other. Hormones secreted during puberty and young adulthood does have a bearing on acne. They also have a bearing on sexual arousal and activity. However, acne has no bearing on sexual activity nor does sexual activity have any bearing on acne.

Fictional Fact #2: People have acne because they are dirty.

Factual Fact: Dirt has no part in acne. Dirt is dirt. Acne is acne. One has nothing to do with the other. Acne is a build up of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. Dirt isn't involved. Keeping the face clean can and will help to prevent clogged pores but dirt does not cause acne.

Fictional Fact #3: Dermatologists can cure acne.

Factual Fact: Dermatologists can TREAT acne. They can help to alleviate the symptoms and help to clear up the pimples, black-heads, and white heads. They can prescribe antibiotics and topical ointments, lotions, and creams that will help but there is no cure at this time for acne.

Fictional Fact #4: Acne is simply a skin problem.

Factual Fact: It's true that acne affects the skin but it can also affect the way a person sees himself or herself. Acne and the scarring it can leave behind may cause a sufferer to become depressed and develop low self-esteem, both of which can lead to larger and more complex life socialization problems. Acne sufferers need the loving support and reassurance from their family and friends.

Acne and Stress:

Can stress actually cause acne? There is ample evidence available to suggest that stress can most assuredly cause an acne breakout or make an existing breakout worse. Our bodies are highly developed chemical laboratories that produce all sorts of stuff.

At puberty, our body begins to produce an abundance of male hormones and this happens in both boys and girls. This overproduction of male hormones can happen at other times in life besides puberty; for example, when a girl or woman starting or stops taking birth control pills.

These male hormones cause the bodies sebaceous glands to shift into overdrive and begin producing sebum. The sebum then travels up hair follicles, clogs the pores and begins the acne development cycle. However, male hormones are not the only cause for the sebaceous glands to begin producing an overabundance of sebum. When we become extremely stressed or overly emotional, our bodies react by causing the adrenal glands to produce a substance known as Cortisol, which is released directly into the bloodstream. Then the chemical chain reaction continues as the sebaceous glands release sebum, the sebum travels up the same hair follicles, clogs the pores and acne develops.

The physical changes in the body can cause exactly the same chemical chain reaction as the emotional changes in the mind. The mind/body connection is very real. Maybe some of it really IS in your head. If that's the case, there is help available to help people deal with the acne that is caused by stress. Reducing stress will just naturally reduce sebum production by the sebaceous glands and reducing sebum production will help to alleviate an acne breakout. Therefore, when you learn to reduce and control you stress levels, this part of the chemical chain reaction is minimized.

It really it isn't any different than restoring a hormonal balance to your body that reduces sebum production. So, in the final analysis, both factors that cause excessive sebum production should be addressed. Solving one problem might help; however, solving both problems could eliminate acne altogether.

Acne Facials:

If you are part of the 95 of the population who suffer from acne, you have more than likely seen TV or print media advertisements for acne facials. Have you ever wondered if there is anything to the claims that their manufacturers make?

In general, the answer is yes! Most acne facials are very effective, pretty much worth the price, and can be used in conjunction with your usual acne fighting regime. They won't necessarily replace any part of what you are already doing; but, rather enhance the overall effects.

You can find acne facials in most health stores, at many cosmetic counters, and online. As a matter of fact, you can probably complete a better comparison of available products online than you can anywhere else.

Most of these acne facial products provide for a three-step program. The first step is a complete facial cleansing. The next step is a steam massage. The final step is a facial mask. The first two steps are designed to prepare the face. The steam massage softens the black heads and the white heads to remove toxins from your skin. The facial mask serves to remove the dead skin cells from the face and to moisturize it as well. The overall effect of the acne facial is a very relaxing, calming, and cleansing experience. It just plain feels good. Anything that helps to calm and sooth your stress can't be bad because we all know that acne is aggravated by high stress levels. Acne facial masks can be used in addition to other parts of your acne prevention and treatment regime or you may find that the facial can, in fact, actually replace some things that you are currently doing.

Acne Concealer's:

One of Newton's laws of physics laws says that, "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." That law of physics spills over into a lot of our life situations. For example: A young woman gets a zit and wants to cover it up. The cosmetics industry has a multitude of products designed to do just that. Okay, that's a little far out there but you get my point.

The acne pimples, whether they are white heads or black heads should never be picked at or popped. If they are popped or picked, it can and normally does result is a scar that is much harder to get rid of than the actual pimple, black head or white head. Popping a pimple is not going to make it go away. In fact, popping a pimple is only going to make the acne worse.

Still when you get a zit, you have to go out and face the world so you are looking for ways to make your skin look clear. You want to disguise the zit and make it as unnoticeable as possible. Here is where the cosmetic industry can help. There are a multitude of products designed to make a zit less noticeable. You don't want to use a product that just adds to the problem by adding additional oil to already oily skin. So, you do need to remember, that when you use a cover product to make the zit less noticeable, you need to totally clean the product from your skin immediately when you return home.

Some of the better known as well as more effective cosmetic concealer's on the market today are:

1. Dermablend Smooth Indulgence Concealer: This product produces a smooth matte appearance and was designed specifically for covering acne blemishes as well as for covering Rosacea and dark circles under the eyes.

2. Flawless Skin by Prescriptives: This product will not aggravate acne but will supply a medium to full coverage and it contains SPF 25 for protection from the sun.

Don't let acne control you; but rather, become smart and learn how to control the negative influences in your life that create a positive situation for acne to develop!

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