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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Talcum / Baby Powder Increases Risk of Cancer

Talcum powder is commonly used on babies to prevent diaper rash, but there are now warnings that parents should immediately stop this practice as it increases the risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 40%. The findings by Harvard researchers & published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention show that using talc just once per week raised the risk of ovarian cancer by 36% and rose to 41% for those applying powder every day - a staggering increase in risk! It should be noted that the findings "apply only to talcum powder used around the private parts, not on the rest of the body."

An alternative for parents is to use cornstarch.

For those of you who have access to medical journals, you can read the detailed findings of the study here.

Yours in health,

Dr. Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Men's Health - Your Prostate: How Aspirin and other NSAIDs can affect your PSA levels

Men can be stubborn about there health. It's no wonder why I have wives calling me to book an appointment for their husbands. But more and more, I'm receiving calls from men who are looking to take charge of their health. The message is sinking in, men: it's important to tackle little problems before they become full blown conditions.

Speaking of prevention and men's health, I believe that the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test for prostate cancer will be covered under OHIP sometime in the next year. Currently, one has to pay out of pocket to get the PSA test done. It is recommended that men should get a baseline PSA test at 50 years of age and those with a history of prostate cancer in the family or have other risk factors should get a one at 40.

Risk Factors:

  • Age: The majority of prostate cancers are found in men aged 65 years and older. As one gets older, your risk increases.
  • Family History: If a close relative has had prostate cancer, your risk is higher.
  • Ethnicity: Black men have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
  • Diet: It is believed that a diet high in fats increases one's risk. Obesity is another risk factor.
New information on how NSAIDs can affect your PSA levels

In a study to be published in the Oct. issue of the journal Cancer, researchers have discovered that use of painkillers such as Aspirin and Ibuprofen can lower a man's PSA levels - on average about 10% lower than those not taking the drugs. What's unclear is if this is a good thing (ie. if it reduces the risk of cancer) or if it's just masking the risks. PSA levels can be elevated for a number of reasons including benign prostate enlargement, prostate infections or other inflammatory processes unrelated to cancer. It should be noted that there is a high rate of false-positive results for this test which leads to invasive follow-up tests to check for prostate cancer. Nonetheless, I still recommend getting a baseline PSA level regardless if you take an Aspirin every day. If you're on NSAIDs and notice a rise in your PSA over time, it may still act as a good marker. So what I'm saying is even though the overall PSA values decrease with NSAID use, we do not yet know if it will affect changes that are seen over time when a problem develops. An increase from one year to the next may still signal a possible problem.

Further studies will surely address this issue, but for now, whether this test is covered by OHIP or not, you should be asking for it.


[Interesting Study]: In a study published in the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, scientists found that taller men have a higher risk for prostate cancer. The British researchers found that for every extra four inches in height, a man's risk rises by about six per cent. Now before you freak out, it should be noted that they believe that height itself does not boosts the risk - rather it serves as a marker for other factors that increase cancer risks (ie. diets rich in fat and high in calories can boost hormones that affect height, and possibly increase the risk of cancer). It is an observed occurrence that as the health of a population increases, there average height increases as well.

Yours in health,

Dr. Ian Koo, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

Naturopathic Essentials Health Centre
"The care you want, the health you need"