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Scientists discover blood proteins that could warn of cancer years before diagnosis

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Scientists in the UK say they have found proteins in the blood that could warn people of cancer more than seven years before it is diagnosed.

In two studies funded by Cancer Research UK, scientists identified 618 proteins linked to 19 types of cancer, including colon, lung, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and liver.

The proteins included 107 associated with cancers diagnosed more than seven years after the patient’s blood sample was collected, and 182 that were associated with a cancer diagnosis within three years.

In the first study, scientists studied blood samples from more than 44,000 people in the UK Biobank, including over 4,900 people who subsequently had a cancer diagnosis.

They found the proteins by comparing those present in people who did go on to be diagnosed with cancer and those who did not.

In the second study, the scientists looked at genetic data from over 300,000 cancer cases to find which blood proteins were involved in cancer development and could be targeted by new treatments.

The scientists found 40 proteins in the blood that influenced someone’s risk of getting nine different types of cancer.

The scientists concluded that some of these proteins could be used to detect cancer much earlier and potentially provide new treatment options.

‘FURTHER RESEARCH REQUIRED’

They however cautioned that further research is needed.

Ruth Travis, senior author of both studies, said to be able to prevent cancer, there needs to be an understanding of the factors driving the earliest stages of its development.

“These studies are important because they provide many new clues about the causes and biology of multiple cancers, including insights into what’s happening years before a cancer is diagnosed,” she said.

“We now have technology that can look at thousands of proteins across thousands of cancer cases, identifying which proteins have a role in the development of specific cancers, and which might have effects that are common to multiple cancer types.”

Health

5 important health checks every woman should get and why

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Taking care of your health is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.

For women, staying healthy means making sure to get regular check-ups. These check-ups help catch problems early, which can make treatment easier and more successful.

Even if you feel fine, some health issues don’t show any signs until they are more serious. This is why it’s important to know which health checks are necessary and why they matter.

Let’s discuss five important health checks every woman should get and why they are so important.

A Pap smear is a simple test that collects cells from the cervix. These cells are then examined for abnormalities that could indicate early signs of cervical cancer.

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test checks for the presence of certain strains of HPV, a virus that can contribute to cervical cancer development.

When to get it: The recommended schedule for Pap smears and HPV tests can vary depending on your age and risk factors.

Typically, women aged 21-29 should have a Pap smear every three years. After 30, the option for a combined HPV and Pap test (co-testing) every five years becomes available, depending on your individual situation. Talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.

A pelvic exam is a comprehensive evaluation of your reproductive organs. During the exam, your doctor will visually examine your external genitals, feel your internal organs through your vagina, and might also perform a Pap smear.

A pelvic exam can detect a variety of issues, including infections, fibroids (benign growths), and even early signs of ovarian cancer.

When to get it: Similar to Pap smears, the recommended frequency for pelvic exams can vary. Generally, women with no concerning symptoms might get one annually alongside their Pap smear. However, your doctor will personalise the schedule based on your specific needs.

High blood pressure (hypertension) and high cholesterol can put you at risk for heart disease, stroke, and other health problems. The good news is, these conditions can often be managed with lifestyle changes and/or medication.

When to get it: Typically, blood pressure and cholesterol checks are recommended for adults starting in their 20s or 30s. The frequency might vary depending on your age, risk factors, and overall health.

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast tissue that can detect lumps or abnormalities that might be cancerous.

It’s a crucial tool in the fight against breast cancer, the most common cancer among women.

When to get it: The recommended schedule for mammograms can vary depending on your age, family history, and risk factors. Generally, women aged 40-49 might consider getting mammograms every few years, while those over 50 might benefit from annual screenings.

As we age, our bones naturally become less dense, increasing the risk of fractures. A bone density scan is a painless test that measures how strong your bones are. This helps identify osteoporosis, a condition that weakens bones.

When to get a bone density scan: While bone density naturally decreases with age, some women are at higher risk for osteoporosis. These include:

  • Women over 50, especially those with a family history of osteoporosis.
  • Women who are postmenopausal, as estrogen plays a vital role in bone health.
  • Women with a history of fractures.
  • Women with certain medical conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or chronic kidney disease.
  • Women who take medications that can weaken bones, such as long-term use of corticosteroids.

These five health checks are a great starting point for women of all ages. However, preventive care goes beyond just tests. To empower your health journey, you’ll need to develop a healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight.

If you experience any concerning changes in your body or unusual symptoms, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial for many health conditions. Also, know your family history.

Understanding your family’s medical background can help identify potential risks you might have.

You are your own health advocate. Take charge of your preventive care and adopting a healthy lifestyle.

Written by Honest Micah.

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Health

Study says Tattoos may raise risk of malignant lymphoma by 21%

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A recent study by experts from Lund University in Sweden has suggested a potential link between tattoos — regardless of size — and cancer.

There has been a global rise in the popularity of tattoos in recent times more than they were a couple of decades ago. Tattoos are now considered more socially acceptable, with several people wearing them, especially in the entertainment space.

But in the study — published in eClinicalMedicine — researchers found a 21% increased risk of lymphoma in tattooed individuals compared to those without tattoos.

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, a network crucial to the immune system that fights infection.

The research states that the concern lies with potentially carcinogenic chemicals in some tattoo inks. When injected, the body perceives them as foreign, triggering a low-grade inflammation that might contribute to cancer development.

The study included 11,905 people — 2,938 of whom had lymphoma and were between ages 20 and 60.

They were then given a questionnaire about lifestyle factors to see if they were tattooed or not. 1,398 participants answered the questionnaire, while the number of people in the control group was 4,193.

In the group with lymphoma, 21 percent were tattooed (289 individuals), while 18 percent were tattooed in the control group without a lymphoma diagnosis (735 individuals).

“After taking into account other relevant factors, such as smoking and age, we found that the risk of developing lymphoma was 21 percent higher among those who were tattooed,” said Christel Nielsen, the researcher who led the study.

“It is important to remember that lymphoma is a rare disease and that our results apply at the group level. The results now need to be verified and investigated further in other studies and such research is ongoing.”

The study found no connection between tattoo size and cancer risk.

“We do not yet know why this was the case. One can only speculate that a tattoo, regardless of size, triggers a low-grade inflammation in the body, which in turn can trigger cancer. The picture is thus more complex than we initially thought,” Nielsen said.

The researchers said they will now examine whether or not there is a link between tattoos and other forms of cancer and inflammatory diseases.

“People will likely want to continue to express their identity through tattoos, and therefore it is very important that we as a society can make sure that it is safe,” he added.

“For the individual, it is good to know that tattoos can affect your health, and that you should turn to your health care provider if you experience symptoms that you believe could be related to your tattoo.”

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Health

Four natural ways to get rid of bed bugs

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Bed bugs are tiny, elusive pests known for their ability to hide in small crevices and feed on human blood.

They thrive in warm environments and conceal themselves in places like mattresses, bed frames, and furniture, making them difficult to eliminate.

Bed bug bites can cause discomfort, redness, and itching, so it’s crucial to get rid of them promptly. While chemical treatments are effective, many people prefer natural methods to avoid potential health risks.

Here are some natural methods that can help you get rid of bed bugs.

  • Sunlight

Bed bugs are vulnerable to high temperatures, so sunlight can be an effective natural method to help reduce their infestations.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), bed bugs die when their body temperatures reach 45°C (113°F); so expose them to sun heat.

Place infested items outside in direct sunlight for several hours. Spread them out to maximize exposure. The longer the exposure, the better the chances of killing bedbugs and their eggs.

For big items like mattresses or cushions, ensure all sides are exposed to the sun by rotating them periodically.

Also, after exposure, thoroughly inspect the items for any remaining signs of bed bugs and use a vacuum to remove any dead bugs or eggs.

  • Encasement

Mattress and box spring encasements are another way to get rid of bed bugs, according to the EPA.

These mattress encasements are special bed bug covers that help trap and starve bed bugs. They also prevent bed bugs from getting to you while sleeping and infesting other areas.

For effective results, leave the encasement on for a year and ensure it has been tested for bed bugs and is strong enough.

  • Hot water

Bed bugs cannot survive high temperatures so hot water is an effective natural method for killing bed bugs and their eggs.

For washable items, wash them in hot water or tumble dry for 30 minutes. According to a study, a 30-minute hot temperature wash can kill all stages of bed bugs.

For non-washable fabrics or areas, use a steam cleaner with a hot water setting to kill bed bugs.

  • Declutter

Decluttering is crucial in eliminating bed bugs. Bed bugs can conceal themselves in piles of clothing, stacks of books, and other clutter, making it difficult to locate and treat them effectively. So reducing clutter in your home will help minimize the number of hiding spots for bed bugs and make it easier to detect and address infestations. Aside from decluttering, you should also do vacuuming consistently. Focus on vacuuming crevices, seams, and edges where bedbugs are likely to hide. With decluttering and vacuuming, you need to be consistent and thorough.

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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