Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Statement from RC Cancer Centers Regarding News Story on Radiation Oncology

/PRNewswire/ -- The "Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm" article in The New York Times on January 24, 2010, mischaracterized radiation oncology by identifying isolated cases of medical errors. While these cases were rare and tragic, radiation therapy is a safe and effective cancer treatment. In addition, the physicians, staff and directors of RC Cancer Centers are deeply concerned that some patients may avoid life-saving treatments after reading the article.

RC Cancer Centers feels it is important for consumers and patients to know that three out of five patients survive cancer. This means that beating cancer with radiation therapy is substantially higher than the risk of being harmed by a mistake. Unfortunately, this article did not offer essential details of the advances in radiation treatments or discuss the safe alternative cancer treatments that radiation oncology provides to cancer patients.

RC Cancer Centers is committed to giving cancer patients access to the most advanced technology and quality systems available. Our physicians and clinical staff receive comprehensive training and complete certification programs to ensure the use of accurate dosage and delivery of radiation therapy at all of our cancer treatment centers. RC Cancer Centers adheres to stringent quality assurance regulations. In addition, we are unique in our commitment to having three quality safeguards in place - controls, physicians and technology.

Specifically, multi-leaf calibration testing is conducted twice a week and daily checks are conducted every morning on our linear accelerators to confirm beam energy, flatness and symmetry, as well as mechanical and optical calibrations. Monthly equipment calibration checks are conducted, peer reviewed and then approved. Board-certified medical physicists perform yearly linear accelerator calibration to ensure proper delivery doses of radiation. This calibration is then confirmed by the Radiological Physics Center based out of MD Anderson Cancer Center of Houston, Texas. In addition, the RC Cancer Centers' staffing model for radiation therapy includes having two registered radiation therapists working together to cross-verify patient treatment set-up and parameters.

Onsite RC Cancer Centers' radiation oncologists are involved in every patient's treatment. They review and approve patient treatment plans in addition to the medical physicists and dosimetrists departments before any patient is treated. We are committed to a quality improvement process that establishes best practices for care and safety to ensure the highest quality patient radiation therapy planning and delivery.

To continue our safeguards process, we use a number of external software technologies that create a patient treatment plan separate from our linear accelerator. The software applications
we use incorporate the patient plan, calculate the radiation that each patient should receive before the patient is treated and then compare it to the actual plan as prescribed by the physician- approved treatment plan. This quality initiative ensures accurate and safe patient planning and treatment delivery at all RC Cancer Centers locations.

The physicians, staff and directors of RC Cancer Centers feel it would be a tragedy if this article negatively impacted the decision-making process for cancer patients who need to pursue the appropriate life-saving treatments -- simply because a well-intentioned news report failed to share the full story.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Experts Say There's Still Time To Get A Flu Shot

(NAPSI)-There's good news for those who want to protect themselves and their family from the flu. There's still time to get a seasonal flu vaccination. While the seasonal flu season typically runs from October through May, activity often peaks in January or later.

According to the CDC, you should get a seasonal flu shot if you are 50 or older, have a chronic health problem-such as kidney, lung, or heart disease; diabetes, a blood disorder or asthma-live in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, are pregnant, are between 6 months and 19 years old, or live with or care for someone in a high-risk group outlined above.

While people age 50 and older are more vulnerable to seasonal flu and its complications, many older people are still not getting vaccinated. For example, seasonal flu vaccination rates are 66 percent for people 65+ and just 39 percent for people 50 to 64.

"Many myths exist about influenza vaccination, but the evidence is clear-vaccines, regardless of age, offer the best method to prevent disease," said Dr. Cora L. Christian, a board member of AARP.

This year, the country is fighting both the regular seasonal flu and a new strain of H1N1 flu (commonly referred to as "swine flu"). A seasonal flu vaccine will not protect you against the H1N1 flu strain. There is a separate vaccine for H1N1 flu.

Groups at high risk of contracting the H1N1 flu include children and young adults up to age 24, pregnant women, people who live with or care for infants, health care workers, and 25- to 64-year-olds with cancer, blood disorders, chronic lung disease (asthma, COPD), diabetes, heart disease, kidney disorders, liver disorders, neurological disorders, neuromuscular disorders or HIV, all of which can increase the severity of flu symptoms in patients.

The CDC also recommends that, as more of the H1N1 vaccine becomes available, all healthy Americans ages 25 to 64 receive it, followed by those 65 and older. According to the CDC, older Americans are less likely than younger people to get sick from the H1N1 flu virus, probably because they have immunity from an earlier exposure to a similar flu.

As more H1N1 vaccines become available, many states are giving vaccines to people over 65, and the CDC has encouraged older Americans to seek H1N1 vaccination if local supply is sufficient. If you are over 65, you should check with your health care provider or state health department to see if the H1N1 vaccine is available for you.

In addition to your doctor's office or a clinic, it's often possible to get a shot at a neighborhood supermarket or drugstore.

For more information on where to find a flu shot near you, go to www.aarp.org/flu.

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Majority of Americans, and Nearly 6 in 10 Young Adults, View Abortion as Morally Wrong

/PRNewswire/ -- On the eve of the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion throughout the United States, a new survey shows a strong majority of Americans believe abortion to be "morally wrong."

"Millennials" (those 18-29) consider abortion to be "morally wrong" even more (58%) than Baby Boomers (those 45-64) (51%). Generation X (those 30-44) are similar to Millennials (60% see abortion as "morally wrong"). More than 6 in 10 of the Greatest Generation (those 65+) feel the same.

The most recent Knights of Columbus - Marist survey - conducted in late December and early January - is the latest in a series of such surveys commissioned by the Knights of Columbus and conducted by Marist Institute for Public Opinion. In October of 2008 and July of 2009, the survey has been tracking an increasing trend toward the pro-life position - a trend confirmed by Gallup and Pew surveys in mid-2009. K of C - Marist surveys are available online at www.kofc.org/moralcompass.

"Americans of all ages - and younger people in even greater numbers than their parents - see abortion as something morally wrong," said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. "America has turned a corner and is embracing life - and in doing so is embracing a future they - and all of us - can be proud of."

He added: "Advances in technology show clearly - and ever more clearly - that an unborn child is completely a human being. That, coupled with the large number of Americans who know one of the many people who has been negatively affected by abortion are certainly two of the reasons that Americans are increasingly uncomfortable with Roe v. Wade's legacy of abortion, and with abortion generally. The majority of Americans now understand that abortion has consequences, and that those consequences are not good."

The question on abortion was part of a larger survey, which will be released in the next several days.

This report presents the findings from a survey of 2,243 Americans -- including an oversample of 1,006 Millennials. Reports for Americans have a margin of error of +/-2% and for Millennials it is +/-3%. Data were collected from December 23, 2009 through January 4, 2010 using an online, probability-based panel from Knowledge Networks, Inc. Additional information is available at www.kofc.org. Data on the polls commissioned by the Knights of Columbus are available at www.kofc.org/moralcompass.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Team Finds Childhood Clues To Adult Schizophrenia

Years before adults develop schizophrenia, there is a pattern of cognitive difficulties they experience as children, including problems with verbal reasoning, working memory, attention and processing speed.

Drawing on a long-term study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders born from 1972 to 1973, a team led by Duke researchers has found a consistent pattern of developmental difficulties that first appeared when adult study subjects with schizophrenia were 7 years old.

"The proportion of kids who don't score well on these tests is big, and the number of kids who develop schizophrenia is tiny," said study co-author Terrie E. Moffitt, the Knut Schmidt Nielsen professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. But now that the study subjects are in their late 30s and mental illnesses have been identified, "we looked backwards to understand more about how schizophrenia may develop."

By age 32, 1 percent of the study participants met the formal criteria for schizophrenia and had been hospitalized and put on antipsychotic medication. Another 2.5 percent met the diagnostic criteria for the disorder, but hadn't received treatment.

Knowing what they know now, the researchers were able to track the progress of these cognitive deficits as the subjects went through testing at ages 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 as part of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study.

"These kids are lagging behind to begin with and they continue to fall behind," said study co-author Richard Keefe, director of Duke's Schizophrenia Research Group. Their verbal skills are initially poor, and then they develop other problems along the way, including difficulties with memory and verbal processing, key factors in learning.

For each year between the ages of 7 and 13, the children who later received a diagnosis of schizophrenia lost between 0.17 and 0.26 years in mental age when compared with the other children.

Two patterns emerged: The children who developed adult schizophrenia had early deficits in verbal and visual learning, reasoning and conceptualization that remained with them as they grew. They also showed slower development than their peers in processing speed, attention, visual-spatial problem-solving and working memory. The data argues against one theory that schizophrenia stems from a deterioration of cognitive abilities. The minds of these children grew, they just didn't grow as well.

Adults with schizophrenia have been known to lag about 8 points behind the average person in IQ tests, but this study puts a finer point on where and how they might differ. The article will appear in the February issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry and was published online Jan. 4.

How or why schizophrenia later develops is still a mystery, but this new evidence provides some valuable clues, said co-author Avshalom Caspi, the Edward M. Arnett Professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. It's possible that a child who struggles to make sense of the world becomes more socially isolated or more delusional, Caspi said. "How does a brain that's ill-equipped to deal with novel sensations deal with the stresses of adolescence?"

With this new evidence in hand, it may be tempting to try to somehow prevent schizophrenia by treating younger patients with anti-psychotic medications, said Keefe. But you'd be treating 20 percent of kids to prevent the 1 percent occurrence of schizophrenia, meaning 19 patients were treated unnecessarily, risking side effects.

"Of course, eventually we hope we'd be able to intervene, maybe even without drugs," Keefe said. Knowing more about the early clues to schizophrenia could lead to better studies of possible cognitive interventions, he said.

The findings suggest that adult psychosis doesn't just emerge fully-formed. It probably comes from a developmental process. "What we think of as adult psychiatric disorders have their roots much earlier in life," Caspi said.

By Karl Leif Bates

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Monday, January 18, 2010

FDA Warns Consumers about Counterfeit Alli

/PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is today warning consumers about a counterfeit and potentially harmful version of Alli 60 mg capsules (120 count refill kit).

Preliminary laboratory tests conducted by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) -- the maker of the FDA-approved over-the-counter weight-loss product -- revealed that the counterfeit version did not contain orlistat, the active ingredient in its product. Instead, the counterfeit product contained the controlled substance sibutramine. Sibutramine is a drug that should not be used in certain patient populations or without physician oversight. Sibutramine can also interact in a harmful way with other medications the consumer may be taking.

Consumers began reporting suspected counterfeit Alli to GSK in early December 2009. GSK has determined that the counterfeit product has been sold over the internet. However, there is no evidence at this time that the counterfeit Alli product has been sold through other channels, such as retail stores.

The counterfeit Alli product looks similar to the authentic product, with a few notable differences. The counterfeit Alli has:

-- Outer cardboard packaging missing a "Lot" code;
-- Expiration date that includes the month, day, and year (e.g.,
06162010); authentic Alli expiration date includes only the month and
year (e.g.,: 05/12);
-- Packaging in a plastic bottle that has a slightly taller and wider cap
with coarser ribbing than the genuine product;
-- Plain foil inner safety seal under the plastic cap without any printed
words; the authentic product seal is printed with "SEALED for YOUR
PROTECTION";
-- Contains larger capsules with a white powder, instead of small white
pellets.


Consumers who believe they have received counterfeit Alli are asked to contact the FDA's Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) by calling 800-551-3989 or by visiting the OCI Web site (http://www.fda.gov/OCI).

Health care professionals and consumers are encouraged to report adverse events that may be related to the use of these counterfeit products to the FDA's MedWatch Program by phone at 1-800-FDA-1088, by fax at 1-800-FDA-0178, or by mail at: MedWatch, HF-2, FDA, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852-9787.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Awards Grants to 41 Communities in Major Expansion of Landmark Program to Reverse Childhood Obesity

In Georgia, Cook County and Milledgeville have received grants.

/PRNewswire/ -- The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has awarded multi-year grants to 41 communities across the country as part of a landmark national program to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic by 2015.

The 41 sites are funded through Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities, an RWJF program that supports local efforts to improve access to affordable healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity for children and families. With nine communities named as leading sites in 2008, the program now encompasses 50 sites in more than half of the states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. And with a total commitment of $33 million over five years, it is the Foundation's single largest investment in community-based solutions to childhood obesity.

"These sites can help move the country toward a place where good health is built right into the environment," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Foundation. "All children, no matter where they live, should be able to jump on a bike and ride safely in their neighborhood or to school. They should be able to play in a well-maintained and crime-free park. And they and their families should be able to easily find--and afford--fresh, healthy foods."

More than 23 million children and adolescents in the United States--nearly a third of youth ages 2 to 19--are now overweight or obese. Even among ages 2 to 5, the rate of overweight and obesity is 24 percent. Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities is a cornerstone of RWJF's $500 million commitment to reverse the epidemic.

The program will work in communities as diverse as Houghton County in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and Desoto, Marshall and Tate counties in the Mississippi Delta. Some are big cities like Houston and Philadelphia, others small, isolated locations like Cuba, N.M. But all of the targeted neighborhoods have a significant obesity problem exacerbated by such issues as high unemployment and poverty, crime, dangerous traffic, too few grocery stores and aging, broken or insufficient infrastructure.

The new sites and the program as a whole will target the barriers that make it difficult for children to get daily physical activity or eat healthy foods. They'll then determine what new policies and environmental changes would work best to overcome those barriers and reduce the prevalence of obesity.

Project leaders in all 50 communities have recruited an impressive array of local partners, including academic and health institutions, faith-based groups and nonprofit organizations, even chambers of commerce and a bicycling association. Many also are involving urban planners, local parks departments or school districts.

"Where people live has a huge impact on their health and quality of life," said Sarah Strunk, M.H. A., director of Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities. "The Foundation's investment in 50 communities across the nation--and collaboration among passionate, committed leaders and advocates--means that children who are at greatest risk for obesity will find that the healthy choice becomes the easier choice."

Each of the 41 new communities will receive a four-year grant of up to $360,000 to craft innovative solutions aimed at helping children and families lead healthier lives. Among the varied approaches they will pursue:

-- Nash and Edgecombe Counties, North Carolina will tackle obesity among
very young children by working with pre-school providers to make sure
they support active play and serve nutritious foods. The project also
will forge ties with medical providers to help them educate parents.
-- Portland, Oregon will use GIS (geographic information system) mapping
to identify disparities such as a lack of parks, grocery stores or
safe walking paths. The project will then build such features into
lower-income areas of the city.
-- Kansas City plans to expand access to healthy foods through a
sustainable food program servicing the metropolitan area on both sides
of the Kansas-Missouri state line.
-- Kingston, New York aims to transform a decaying urban core of empty
storefronts and a hazardous main street into a midtown with parks,
trails and community gardens.

As successes are replicated, more and more communities will be transformed. "Who wouldn't want to leave this kind of legacy for our kids?" Strunk said.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Atlanta Non-Profit, HealthMPowers, Launches 'Catch a Teacher Being Healthy' Program

/PRNewswire/ -- Students will soon be trying to catch their teachers exhibiting recommended health behaviors due to a new school staff wellness program being launched by HealthMPowers, a non-profit organization committed to increasing health knowledge and promoting health-enhancing behaviors. "Catch a Teacher Being Healthy" is designed to not only promote good health among staff but to also encourage them to be strong, positive health role models for students.

For a two-week period between January 18 and February 12, 2010, students in participating schools will try to "catch" teachers eating fruits and vegetables or leading classroom exercises. Once seen, the student will announce the behavior and initial the appropriate health symbol on the teacher's classroom chart, provided by HealthMPowers and funded in part by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP Ed).

"In light of New Year's resolutions, which often revolve around health and fitness, this program is very timely in encouraging and supporting school staff to keep their resolutions," said Christi Kay, executive director of HealthMPowers. "As with all of HealthMPowers' programming, the goal of "Catch a Teacher Being Healthy" is to change the way we think about positive health decisions and to make them second nature."

The idea for "Catch a Teacher Being Healthy" originated at Woodland Middle School, located near Atlanta in East Point, and was further developed by Union Point Elementary School in Greene County.

"Having noticed that students really look to their teachers for cues on healthy choices, we figured we could make a game out of it in order to encourage all the teachers to make healthy choices," said Lisa Brown, health and physical education teacher at Union Point Elementary School.

The program currently has 62 schools in 26 counties registered to participate, including approximately 3,400 staff members.

"This is a fun and educational way to encourage both students and teachers to improve their health and lifestyles," said Monye Connolly, president, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia. "We believe the work HealthMPowers is doing in Georgia schools is an important step in fighting the childhood obesity epidemic statewide and we are a proud partner in this fight."

HealthMPowers provides all the schools it serves with numerous tools and resources throughout the year to promote healthier lifestyles, such as tracking tools to help students monitor their fitness and nutrition, a nine-station Body Walk, and newsletters for both parents and children.

For more information on HealthMPowers, visit www.healthmpowers.org.

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American Lung Association Supports Centers For Disease Control and Prevention's National Influenza Vaccination Week

/PRNewswire/ -- The American Lung Association supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), January 10-16, 2010, which highlights the importance of annual influenza vaccination after the holiday season into January and beyond.

Each year approximately 226,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 die due to seasonal influenza and its related complications. Despite recommendations by national health experts that more than four out of five Americans should be vaccinated against influenza annually, fewer than half actually are.

"The recent influenza A (H1N1) virus outbreak is a strong reminder that influenza is a serious and potentially life-threatening disease," said Norman Edelman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the American Lung Association. "The Lung Association applauds the CDC's efforts for creating a greater awareness about this dangerous public health threat with a national week of observance."

Also raising awareness about the seriousness of influenza is the American Lung Association's Faces of Influenza campaign. This national educational campaign is designed to help Americans see themselves among the many "faces" of influenza -- people who fall into one or more target groups recommended for annual vaccination by the CDC -- and recognize immunization as a safe and effective way to protect themselves and their families against influenza.

Seasonal influenza typically does not peak until as late as February or March, and with the A (H1N1) virus continuing to circulate across the United States, vaccination against both viruses is recommended and beneficial throughout the winter months.

NIVW is scheduled for January 10-16. This year, the CDC designated the following days to emphasize the importance of influenza awareness for high-risk populations most susceptible to complications from the disease:

-- Monday, January 11: Healthcare Worker Vaccination Day
-- Tuesday, January 12: Chronic Health Conditions Vaccination Day
-- Wednesday, January 13: Children and Family Vaccination Day
-- Thursday, January 14: Young Adult Vaccination Day
-- Friday, January 15: Seniors' Vaccination Day


"I encourage every American to find out whether they are a 'face' of influenza," said Norman Edelman, M.D. "Vaccination is safe and effective, and the best protection against this serious disease."

About Faces of Influenza

On a national level, "Dancing with the Stars" winner, Olympic Gold Medal figure skater and mother Kristi Yamaguchi is the spokesperson for the Faces of Influenza campaign. Other celebrities' "faces" featured are: actor Dean Cain, who played Superman on ABC's Lois and Clark; Dr. Joyce Brothers, well-known psychologist and advice columnist; Joy Behar, comedian and co-host of ABC's The View; and Olympic Gold Medalist Vonetta Flowers.

Other "faces" of influenza have asthma, diabetes or other chronic medical conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). One individual is pregnant, and participates to help emphasize the importance of immunization for women who will be pregnant during influenza season.

The Faces of Influenza initiative also includes educational materials for consumers and health care providers, as well as the national distribution of television and radio public service announcements featuring Kristi Yamaguchi and the high-risk groups recommended for seasonal influenza immunization. The Lung Association has developed a Web site, www.facesofinfluenza.org, where consumers and health care providers can find more information about influenza and the importance of immunization. Visitors to the site also can view the photographs and stories featured in the Faces of Influenza Portrait Gallery and view the public service campaign.

About Seasonal Influenza

Seasonal influenza, along with its complications, is a serious respiratory illness. On average, 36,000 Americans die and about 226,000 people are hospitalized each year. Vaccination is a safe and effective way to prevent influenza and its complications. The CDC recommends that anyone who wishes to reduce their risk of contracting influenza; children 6 months-18 years of age; adults over 50 years of age; pregnant women; and anyone with chronic health conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and diabetes, receive an annual influenza immunization. The CDC also recommends annual immunization for caregivers and household contacts of these high-risk groups, such as relatives and health care providers.

Vaccination typically begins in October and can continue through March. The 2009-2010 Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations state that vaccination efforts should begin as soon as vaccine is available and continue through the influenza season. In most seasons, seasonal influenza virus activity peaks in February or March, so vaccination throughout the entire influenza season is beneficial and recommended.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month: Women's Health Advocates Urge Women to 'Take the Pearl Pledge' to Protect Themselves

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month: Women's Health Advocates Urge Women to 'Take the Pearl Pledge' to Protect Themselves and Other Women From Cervical Cancer

/PRNewswire/ -- The Pearl of Wisdom Campaign to Prevent Cervical Cancer wants women to protect themselves - and their mothers, daughters, sisters and friends - from this preventable disease. Thus, in honor of National Cervical Cancer Awareness Month in January, this coalition of leading women's health advocates today launched its "Take the Pearl Pledge" initiative, which asks women to: schedule their annual gynecologic examination, wear a Pearl of Wisdom in support of cervical cancer prevention, and encourage 5 friends to do the same. The campaign aims to secure 4,070 pledges - the same number of U.S. women who were projected to die of cervical cancer in 2009 - by Mother's Day (May 9, 2010). Women can participate in the "Take the Pearl Pledge" effort at www.PearlofWisdom.us/Pledge.

"Cervical cancer is the second leading cancer in women worldwide. This year in the United States, more than 11,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and more than 4,000 women will die of this disease," said Tamika Felder, cervical cancer survivor and founder of the nonprofit organization, Tamika and Friends (www.tamikaandfriends.org), the lead U.S. partner in the Pearl of Wisdom campaign. "Cervical cancer, however, is almost always preventable - with the Pap test, the HPV test and the HPV vaccine. We want women to know this, to ask for the prevention tools that are appropriate for them, and to help us get the word out to other women by wearing their pearl and starting the conversation."

Following, according to the Pearl of Wisdom campaign, is what every woman should know:

-- Girls and young women: Ask your healthcare provider about the HPV
vaccine, which protects against the two types of HPV (human
papillomavirus) that cause the majority of cervical cancers. The
vaccines are recommended for girls 11 to 12 years old, and are
approved for girls and young women up to age 26. Even women who have
been vaccinated will still need to be screened.
-- Women age 21 or older: Get the Pap test, which detects abnormal cells
that can lead to cervical cancer.
-- Women age 30 or older: Get the Pap test and the HPV test together as
part of routine cervical cancer screening. The HPV test detects the
virus that causes cervical cancer, identifying those women at
increased risk who will need to be monitored more closely.



"Unlike other cancers, cervical cancer is almost always preventable because we know what causes it - HPV infection - and we have the tools available to prevent this cancer," said Susan Wysocki, WHNP-BC, FAANP, president and CEO of the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health (www.npwh.org), a partner in the Pearl of Wisdom campaign. "With proper screening and vaccination, no woman should lose her fertility to or die of this disease."

For the "Take the Pearl Pledge" initiative, women can purchase a Pearl of Wisdom, the global symbol for cervical cancer prevention, at www.PearlofWisdom.us/Pledge. All proceeds go to the U.S. Pearl of Wisdom Campaign Fund, which supports U.S.-based cervical cancer prevention activities. Women can also wear their own pearl to participate.

Pearl of Wisdom campaign partners are also sharing information about cervical cancer prevention and the "Take the Pearl Pledge" with their members. National campaign partners include American Association of University Women, American Medical Women's Association, the American Social Health Association, the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals, the Balm In Gilead, Black Women's Health Imperative, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the Global Summit of Women, Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, HealthyWomen, the Hicks Foundation, the National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, the National Council of Women's Organizations, the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Society for Women's Health Research, Tamika and Friends, Women In Government, the Yellow Umbrella Organization, and others.

About Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide. In the U.S., the American Cancer Society estimated that in 2009, 11,270 women would be diagnosed with cervical cancer and 4,070 women would die of the disease. Cervical cancer is caused by persistent infections with high-risk types of the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a very common sexually transmitted infection that 3 of 4 adults will have at some time in their lives. Most of these infections go away on their own without treatment. Infections that do not go away on their own can lead to cervical cancer.

A Pap test is the traditional method used for cervical cancer screening. An HPV test identifies women who are infected with high-risk types of HPV that could potentially lead to cervical cancer. Clinical studies suggest that screening with both a Pap test and an HPV test offers women aged 30 and older the best protection against cervical cancer. HPV vaccines, recommended for 11- to 12-year-old girls and approved for young women up to age 26, have been shown to be highly effective at preventing infection with the two most common types of HPV that cause approximately 70% of all cervical cancers. HPV vaccination does not protect against all the HPV types that can cause cervical cancer; thus, women who have been vaccinated still need to be screened.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Pound For Pound Challenge Inspires Americans to Lose Weight to Help the Hunger Crisis

/PRNewswire/ -- NBC's The Biggest Loser, General Mills, Subway, 24 Hour Fitness and Feeding America are partnering on the Pound For Pound Challenge, a program that encourages Americans to lose weight nationally to help provide hunger relief locally. For a second year, for every pound of weight participants pledge to lose, a pound of groceries will be delivered to a local food bank. The new season of NBC's The Biggest Loser, which premiers tonight, Tuesday, January 5 at 8 p.m. ET, will provide updates on Americans' participation in the Challenge and how their efforts are helping communities nationwide.

New this year, 24 Hour Fitness is joining this important initiative and www.PFPChallenge.com will highlight the top 10 participating states and food banks to help ignite friendly competition across the country.

Recent data from the U.S. government shows more than 49 million Americans struggled to get enough to eat at some point in 2008, the highest total in 14 years, making it the ideal time to get involved in the fight against hunger.

"Our network of more than 200 food banks across the nation have shown an average 30 percent increase in demand over last year," said Vicki B. Escarra, president and CEO, Feeding America. "At these rates, we all likely know someone affected by hunger and can help them in a big way by simply participating in the Pound For Pound Challenge."

To join the Challenge, people can visit www.PFPChallenge.com or www.BiggestLoser.com and enter their weight loss goals. For every pound of weight participants pledge to lose, the Pound For Pound Challenge will donate 14 cents to Feeding America - enough to deliver one pound of groceries to a local food bank - up to a maximum donation of $800,000.

"As a food company, General Mills is deeply committed to the hunger crisis," said John Haugen, vice president, Health and Wellness at General Mills. "Last year we helped Feeding America deliver more than 3.5 million pounds of groceries to local food banks through the Pound For Pound Challenge, and we are thrilled to give Americans yet another chance to help themselves while helping those in need in their communities."

To wake up Americans to the hunger issue, General Mills recently committed to donate 49 million bowls of Big G cereal made with whole grain to Feeding America for delivery to local food banks. General Mills CEO Ken Powell, NBC's The Biggest Loser's Bob Harper and Feeding America president and CEO Vicki B. Escarra traveled across the country to rally Americans to join the cause.

"I'm so inspired by the commitment I've already seen from Americans to help those who struggle to put food on the table," said Bob Harper, trainer, NBC's The Biggest Loser. "More than 1 million pounds have already been pledged to the Pound For Pound Challenge, and that momentum will only continue as we highlight the program on our show."

"Starting January 5, our viewers will watch as the show's contestants commit to improving their own health, and we hope that inspires them to join the Pound For Pound Challenge," said Mark Koops, Managing Director of Reveille, the production company behind NBC's The Biggest Loser. "The Challenge will be actively integrated into season 9, so viewers will get updates on how their own efforts are impacting their local communities."

Each person who pledges will be matched with a local Feeding America food bank nearest their residence, and donations will be delivered to those food banks when the Challenge ends. Participants who want their pledge to benefit other areas of the country can indicate that when they make their pledges. The Pound For Pound Challenge will donate 14 cents, enough to deliver one pound of groceries to a local food bank, for every pound pledged up to a maximum donation of $800,000 based on participation. Pledges will be accepted until June 30.

"Subway has long encouraged Americans to lead healthy, active lifestyles," said Tony Pace, Chief Marketing Officer of the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust. "By joining the Pound for Pound Challenge, Americans can turn their own healthy commitment into support for a great cause."

On www.PFPChallenge.com, dieters also can get helpful meal and weight loss tips from Yoplait, MultiGrain Cheerios, Larabar, Muir Glen, Eat Better America, Subway and 24 Hour Fitness.

"24 Hour Fitness is committed to helping people achieve their workout and weight-loss goals," said Tony Wells, Chief Marketing Officer at 24 Hour Fitness. "There is no better motivation to stay dedicated to a healthy lifestyle than to join the Pound For Pound Challenge."

With the rapidly increasing need for donations, everyone can do their part to spread awareness of the hunger issue and become a part of the solution. In addition to pledging to lose weight, at www.PFPChallenge.com you can create a PFP Challenge team on Facebook, invite a friend to join the Challenge via e-mail, donate directly to Feeding America and learn how you can volunteer at local food banks. To learn more and to join the Challenge, visit www.PFPChallenge.com.

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Over 60? Extend Your Body's Warranty

(StatePoint) Many experts have shared their conclusions about how cable television and the Internet have kept countless Americans on their behinds for longer periods of time. Ironically, while all this has been going on, scientists have been discovering the most about health and exercise -- and how staying active can ward off a range of illnesses as we age.

What it comes down to is this: there are fewer and fewer excuses for letting your body run its course without exercise. For seniors, in particular, exercise has been linked to reduced risk for such ailments as prostate cancer, osteoporosis, heart disease and stroke, among others.

There has been much new research on the topic, with all signs pointing seniors to the exercise mat and away from the couch.

Indeed, with one out of six men confronting prostate cancer at some point in life, the Prostate Cancer Foundation recently released a new "Nutrition, Exercise, and Prostate Cancer" guide, a series of new strategies that help stem the development and progression of prostate cancer. Visit www.pcf.org to order or download a free copy of the guide. The key is combining exercise with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in processed sugars and refined carbohydrates.

A new study from Dr. Stephen Freedland at Duke and the Durham Veterans Affairs Hospital also underscores the impact regular exercise has in protecting men from prostate cancer, while also making the disease less aggressive.

More than anything else, the combination of diet and exercise looks to be a strong pre-emptive step against many ailments.

With breast cancer a similarly daunting disease among women, healthy options unsurprisingly have been linked to lifestyle, particularly exercise and nutrition. With as little as four hours of exercise a week and a low-fat diet, the risk of breast cancer can be lessened. Abstaining from drinking alcohol has also been shown to decrease the risk of breast cancer.

And there are plenty of ailments that plague both older men and women that can be helped by exercise. Among them is osteoporosis, which affects the bone density of people as they age. By focusing on exercises that have a direct impact on the skeleton, like basketball or jumping jacks, the symptoms of osteoporosis can be avoided.

New research also shows it's never too late for seniors to become active. Even those afflicted with Type 2 diabetes can help turn things around with an exercise regimen. And it's well-known that exercise can help strengthen arteries and potentially reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Of course, before starting any diet or exercise program, seniors should consult their doctors. But when it comes to health, a small series of simple lifestyle changes can help extend your body's warranty, making a world of difference in your golden years.

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