Category Archives: Medical

Great News

So my family has this horrible genetic mutation (BRCA1) that wildly increases our chances of breast and ovarian cancer, among others (My mom’s mom and one of her sisters died from Ovarian cancer and my cousin, that sister’s daughter, had breast cancer at 30). There’s also a separate mutation that causes cancer of the duct between your liver and gall bladder (this is what my mom’s dad died from). I have been hounding my mom since my last aunt died 5 years ago to get tested to find out if she has the gene mutation. No point in my getting tested if she does not (because there’s no way I could have it), so the sooner she found out, the sooner I could be tested (since we were all 100% sure she had it).

She FINALLY got tested 2 weeks ago and received her results today. She is completely NEGATIVE for all 3 genetic mutations!!! This means her chances of breast cancer are normal, her chances of ovarian cancer are non-existent (because she had a preemptive hysterectomy in her mid-30s), and I’m normal too! No mid-30s hysterectomy for me, just a normal life with less worry. I’m so happy she was finally tested and I’m so ecstatic to know the results!!

Party party party!

ACLU lawsuit against gene patent holders

ACLU Challenges Patents on Breast Cancer Genes

On May 12, 2009, the ACLU and the Public Patent Foundation, a not-for-profit organization affiliated with Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law (PUBPAT), filed a lawsuit charging that patents on two human genes associated with breast and ovarian cancer are unconstitutional and invalid. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four scientific organizations representing more than 150,000 geneticists, pathologists, and laboratory professionals, as well as individual researchers, breast cancer and women’s health groups, genetic counselors and individual women. Individuals with certain mutations along these two genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, are at a significantly higher risk for developing hereditary breast and ovarian cancers.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has granted thousands of patents on human genes – in fact, about 20 percent of our genes are patented. A gene patent holder has the right to prevent anyone from studying, testing or even looking at a gene. As a result, scientific research and genetic testing has been delayed, limited or even shut down due to concerns about gene patents.

As a result of the PTO granting patents on the BRCA genes to Myriad Genetics, Myriad’s lab is the only place in the country where diagnostic testing can be performed. Because only Myriad can test for the BRCA gene mutations, others are prevented from testing these genes or developing alternative tests. Myriad’s monopoly on the BRCA genes makes it impossible for women to access other tests or get a second opinion about their results, and allows Myriad to charge a high rate for their tests – over $3,000, which is too expensive for some women to afford.

The lawsuit, Association for Molecular Pathology, et al. v. United States Patent and Trademark Office, et al., was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan against the PTO, Myriad Genetics and the University of Utah Research Foundation, which hold the patents on the BRCA genes.

I had no idea this happens and I can not believe it is allowed. People can patent genes??? I can understand wanting to get the recognition when it comes to having discovered say, the gene that causes Parkinson’s or Alsheimer’s, but when this causes research and exploration to be limited, why would anyone want to do that. I find it to be incredibly irresponsible on the government’s part to allow this to happen.

I understand that America is the greatest country in the world, blah blah blah. I also understand that we have some of the best medical research in the world right here in the good ole USA. I know that if medicine was never turned into the business it is treated as, we would never be able to afford the research we can. At the same time, however, my family has a BRAC mutation. Every woman in my mother’s side of the family as far back as anyone can remember has died of “women trouble” and then Ovarian Cancer once we had the technology to identify it. My mother is the first woman to live to her age without being sick and this is because she had a hysterectomy as a result of our knowledge of this genetic mutation.

It takes so long to be tested for this gene, they need family records of other people with it, and it is so expensive. I had no idea this was because there was a patent on the gene. Why would anyone ever want to do something that affects people’s lives and could be essentially allowing thousands to die? I understand that research is a business and labs need funding and scientists, but what if lab A has the patent and there are scientists at lab B and lab C who went to school with lab A’s scientists, but graduated with better understanding and grades? I want lab B and C’s scientists researching cures for my potential cancer. Problem is, they can’t. I find something wrong with this. Morally, shouldn’t we be doing everything we possibly can to find cures to things? Doesn’t competition bring out the best in people? Wouldn’t competition challenge people to work harder and think better? We don’t allow monopolies in our country (technically), so why this?

Reading this article disgusted me and really, it made me want to cry. To learn something that so personally affects you and your well being is controlled by politics when the issue is health and life is disheartening. I suppose then you could start to argue about stem cell research and abortion, but I’m so not looking to get into those topics.

Swine Flu Outbreak

swine

This whole swine flu thing is getting a little ridiculous to me. I do understand that it could become a pandemic (which is scary) and I do understand that it is killing people (which is sad), but I also understand that what is being said about swine flu was also said about bird flu and SARS. Even if this is worse, which it very well may be, I have no idea, worrying isn’t going to help anything. So far, to my knowledge, the virus has not been deadly in the US and there are people who are definitely recovering.

I’m waiting for people in the city to break out the masks as there are confirmed cases of 20 high school students in Queens, as well as at least one employee at Earnst & Young (according to my roommate). While masks might be a smart preventative measure to take, they will make me snicker.

My roommate is freaked out by this whole thing and is eating up the news the media is putting out about it. My question though, is at what point does journalism become irresponsible. Of course this is something that is news worthy and should be covered so that people are aware of both its existence as well as symptoms, treatments, and when it is appropriate to go to the hospital. However, at some point that line can be breached and people are now having a sense of fear instilled into them rather than just getting the news.

I’m to the point that I don’t really want to hear much more about this. I know it exists, I know the symptoms are like any other flu, I know it’s spreading across the world and could become a pandemic, but I also know that even in 1918 when there was an influenza pandemic, it only killed 2% of the population. I do understand that 2% is a lot of people, but in perspective, it’s nothing compared to something like the bubonic plague that killed 25%-50% of Europe’s population.

In short, I am aware of the swine flu, the chances of my dying from it are small, and I’m tired of hearing about it.

Bloomburg is trying to make NY more healthy – I kind of love him

Mayor Bloomberg Declares War On … Salt

Hizzoner Calls On U.S. Manufacturers To Reduce Salt Content Until It Results In A 50 Percent Cut In 10 Years

Citizens Revolt, Claim NYC Is Turning Into Nanny State

NEW YORK (CBS) ― Singer Jimmy Buffett will never find his “lost shaker of salt” in New York City or any other place in the country if Mayor Michael Bloomberg has his way. The mayor is waging a war on salt and he wants food manufacturers and restaurants to join his army … or else.

It’s ironic that the war on salt began on the very day the city was spreading tons of it on the streets to fight a snow storm, but in Bloomberg’s view there is good salt … and bad salt.

City officials said that people don’t realize the salt content of the things they buy in the supermarket. For example, potato chips you would think are the saltiest thing in the store but they have only 180 milligrams per serving. Turkey meatballs, on the other hand, have 660 milligrams per serving. Marble cake has 300 per serving and chicken noodle soup has nearly 1,400 milligrams of salt per serving.

The city’s plan is to get food manufacturers in the United States to agree to gradually start reducing salt content until it reaches a 50 percent cut in 10 years.

“Salt, when its high in the diet, increases the blood pressure and high blood pressure is a major factor for heart disease and stroke,” said Dr. Sonia Angell of NYC’s Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Program.

This is just Mayor Bloomberg’s latest health initiative, following on the heels of a smoking ban, a ban on trans fats and forcing restaurants to post the calorie contents.

But many New Yorkers peppered the mayor with boos for his latest idea.

“I don’t think they should do that,” a woman in Manhattan named “Nora” told CBS 2 HD. “Because I like salt in my food.”

“I don’t think it’s that big a deal to look on the label, check the packaging and make the decision for yourself rather than have Bloomberg or whoever mandate what it is people should or shouldn’t eat,” said Paul Hope of Upper West Side.

“Nanny state. We don’t need any more nanny state people can take care of themselves. We don’t need the government to take care of us,” said Patrick Keenan of Hell’s Kitchen.

The city says it doesn’t want to eliminate salt in food, just go back to the levels found during the 1970s.

Thomas Frieden, the city’s health commissioner, said he wants manufacturers and restaurants to join the war on salt voluntarily. If they don’t, the city could pass legislation making it the law.

Love it! I LOVE New York City mayors, they always do such great things! First reducing graffiti and turnstyle jumpers to decrease crime, now making the city healthier.

I think it’s obnoxious that people are “revolting.” I fully support Mayor Bloomberg in this effort, there is far too much salt on food today and people say they “like” it when they wouldn’t even notice if it wasn’t there – most of it is there for preservative purposes. My favorite quote:

“I don’t think they should do that,” a woman in Manhattan named “Nora” told CBS 2 HD. “Because I like salt in my food.”

Really? Who is this woman, Nora? Does she have an education? Does she weigh 300 lbs? Does she cook at home? Does she know that most of the time one cannot taste the salt? I love the people news channels choose to interview.

I also think it’s amazing that in the interview someone says to let people decide for themselves. I recognize this is a free country and all, but something has got to be done about the rising number of diabetes cases in this country, the number of obese children (who incidentally are the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents), the number of high blood pressure and heart attacks, etc. People are so uneducated about health, despite efforts that (I feel) they aren’t qualified to make a decision for themselves here. Our government is put in place to look out for our well being and represent us – I feel that this is what Mayor Bloomburg is doing and I applaud it.

I support Mayor Bloomburg in his efforts to reduce the population’s sodium intake and would gladly tell him he has my support!

Not gonna do it

I’m not well.  I’ve had a cold coming on since the weekend and I’ve been neglecting myself…for what?  For work.  I really need to work on this work/life balance.  Today I was alright when I woke up, but I was super hot while I was getting ready.  It wasn’t until I was on the subway that it hit me.  This cold is not in my head although it’s trying to make its way in.  So far it’s only affecting my voice…it’s very deep and raspy right now.  My body, however, is drained of energy.  I feel like I need to crawl into bed and stay there all day.  That would be amazing.  Napping, reading and SATCing.  One of the people I work very closely with told me to go home if I need to.  I’d love to, but I just feel like I have way too much to do.  One of these days I’m going to have to learn how to put myself before this team.  At least I enjoy what I do and who I do it with.

Well, I was with one…

Me: I almost passed out on the way to work today.
Athena: did you not eat??
low blood sugar?
a man so sexy that you lost your balance?

— 

Symptoms of hypoglycemia:

  • hunger
  • nervousness and shakiness
  • perspiration
  • dizziness or light-headedness
  • sleepiness
  • confusion
  • difficulty speaking
  • feeling anxious or weak

This morning on the way to work this happened to me, as it does occasionally.  Usually I’m fine if I just sit down.  Today I can still feel it and it’s been an hour.  I was on the train and all of the sudden I was hot and sweaty and my stomach hurt.  I was trying to act like I was fine.  Then I couldn’t see and I knew I wasn’t fine.  Since none of the 7 men sitting down in front of me were going to offer me their seats, I squatted down.  After a couple minutes I felt better and stood back up.  When I did one of them offered me his seat, but another opened up, so I thanked him.  This happens to me on a regular enough basis that I know to sit down.

When I got to work today I called mom and told her what had happened.  She got worried and said I need to be tested for diabetes as it runs in our family.  I feel like I’d have more problems if I were diabetic though and also like I’d have been diagnosed before 25.  In any case, I will probably get this checked out just to be safe.

Predictions?

Mom was laying in her bed, propped up on pillows.  Dad was away on business.  Mom had breast cancer.  She died while he was away.  It was a perfect spring day where it’s sunny and breezy and all the windows are open.  Steve, the neighbor came over to check on me and I hid in the pantry.  I didn’t want to see anyone.  I was mad that cancer continued to ravage my family.

I woke up afraid.  Afraid because every time one of us has a dream about the family it seems to come true.  Mom drempt my cousin was pregnant and when she asked, she said no.  She found out a week later she was.  I was having dreams about breast exams.  The following week I found out my cousin, has breast cancer.  Mom felt when her sister went into labor. 

At 6am this morning I called my mom and asked her when the last time she went to the Dr. was.  I told her about my dream, well…I just told her I had a dream in which she had breast cancer.  I hope she’s ok.

*Update* Mom has recently had a mammogram (sp?) that came back clear, but so did my cousin’s, so she made an appointment today to get ultrasounds done.  She told the dr’s it’s because I had a dream…I’m sure they’re talking about it right now.