Archive | November, 2012

Paint Exposure May Increase Bladder Cancer Risk

A new meta-analysis study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine reported that people who work with paint in their jobs seem to be at a 25% increased risk of bladder cancer.

An additional study that controlled for smoking status discovered a similar result, leading the researchers to conclude a casual relationship between paint exposure and bladder cancer.  ”The robustness of the summary risk estimates after adjusting for tobacco use [suggests] that residual confounding by tobacco use is unlikely and that occupational exposure as a painter is independently associated with the risk of bladder cancer,” the researchers wrote.

Neela Guha, PhD, MPH commented that, “because several million people are employed as painters worldwide, even a modest increase in the relative risk is remarkable.”As a result, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) now classifies exposure to paint as “carcinogenic to humans.” The magnitude of the risk was greater with longer term paint exposure. In addition to painters; plasterers, glaziers, wallpaper hangers, aerographers, artists, decorators, and French polishers were also deemed at risk.

Although the specific chemicals responsible for the increased risk have yet to be identified, Guha and her colleagues observed that painting exposes individuals to many of the same carcinogens found in cigarette smoke. “To permit identification of specific causative agents encountered in the painting environment, future studies assessing cancer risks in painters should present risk estimates associated with individual components in paint,” the researchers commented.

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Healthy Bladder-Friendly Foods

Millions of Americans suffer from bladder infections, inflammation, and general bladder discomfort today.  But did you know that eating certain foods can actually help prevent such problems from ever starting?  For years physicians and dieticians have been recommending healthy foods, and now urologists have jumped in.  Try including these five foods to your diet and keep them a part of your regular daily meals for a healthy bladder:  cranberries, pears, whole grains, water, and yogurt.

Cranberries—These red berries have been used to prevent urinary tract infections for years.  They contain healthy doses of Vitamin C, dietary fiber, manganese, and Vitamin K.  Studies on the effects of cranberries indicate that about 16 ounces (2 cups) of pure cranberry juice daily treat and prevent urinary tract infections.  Cranberries do this by acidifying the urine, which breaks down the UTI-causing bacteria.  Further, they contain an antibacterial agent called hippuric acid and other compounds that reduce the ability of E. coli bacteria to adhere to the walls of the urinary tract.

Pears—Many patients with interstitial cystitis love pears as they are one of the few fruits that do not produce the feared symptom flare-up.  Due to their low acidity, the fruit makes for an easy snack for IC sufferers.  Pears are also a good source of dietary fiber and Vitamin C.  Pears are a high-alkaline (basic) food, so eating more of them helps balance an overly acidic system, which, in turn, keeps bladder issues under control.

Whole Grains—Constipation increases pressure on your bladder, making bladder problems even worse.  Whole grains provide significant amounts of dietary fiber, which aides in maintaining a healthy colon and allows for easy digestion, thereby decreasing defecation issues.  Examples of whole grain-rich foods include oatmeal, spelt, bulgur, brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, popcorn, and barley.  The recommended daily dosage of fiber for a healthy system is 25 grams a day.

Water—A properly hydrated body functions correctly.  But over-hydration puts too much pressure on the bladder.  Drinking eight to ten glasses of water a day is adequate to maintain a flushed and clean system without bogging your bladder down with unnecessary work.

Yogurt—According to a study conducted by the Division of Nutritional Epidemiology, National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute, and the Department of Urology and Center for Assessment of Medical Technology, Orebro University Hospital, in Sweden, daily consumption of yogurt reduces the risk of bladder cancer.  The study focused on the association between the intake of cultured milk and other dairy foods and the incidence of bladder cancer.  Although the total dairy intake was not significantly associated with a decrease risk in bladder cancer, a significant association was observed for the intake of cultured milk (yogurt).  In other words, a high intake of yogurt (about two servings per day) may lower the risk of developing bladder cancer.

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Reprogrammed Kidney Cells Could Make Transplants and Dialysis Obsolete

A recently published article in the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN) indicates that patients’ own kidney cells can be gathered and reprogrammed, which means that in the future, fewer patients with kidney disease would need complicated, expensive procedures that affect their quality of life.

Sharon Ricardo, PhD, from Monash University in Clayton, Austria and her colleagues took cells from an individual’s kidney and reprogrammed them into progenitor cells, allowing the immature cells to form any type in the kidney.  The team inserted several key programming genes into the renal cells that made them capable of forming other cells.

In another study, Miguel Esteban, MD, PhD, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Guangzhou, China and his colleagues found that kidney cells collected from the patients’ urine can also be reprogrammed in this way.  The use of urine cells is easy to implement in a clinical setting, and the urine cells can be frozen and later thawed before they are reprogrammed.

If researchers are able to expand the reprogrammed cells, known as induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and return them to the patient, these IPSCs may restore the kidneys’ health and vitality.  The breakthroughs might help investigators to study the causes of kidney disease and to screen new drugs that could be used to treat them.

Ian Rogers, PhD, from Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto wrote in an accompanying editorial that the two studies “demonstrate the feasibility of using kidney cells as a source o iPSCs and efficient production of adult iPSCs from urine means that cells can be collected at any time.”

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Menopause and an Overactive Bladder

Do you have to plan out your day in accordance with the proximity of a bathroom?  Are you constantly delaying consumption of liquids in order to avoid a situation where you are dashing for the restroom?  And are you between the ages of 40 and 55?  Then you may be one of the many women who have an overactive bladder (OAB) associated with menopause and age.

More than 17 percent of women in the United States have an overactive bladder.  The difficulty determining just how many women have OAB is due to the fact that the problem remains under-reported.  Although some women do not feel comfortable talking to their doctors about the symptoms, help is available and urologists are always ready to listen.

An overactive bladder associated with age has a very specific relationship with menopause.  During perimenopause, the period leading up to menopause, and menopause itself, the level of estrogen begins to drop significantly.  Pre-menopause amounts of estrogen are used to keep the tissues of your bladder and urethra healthy, so if these necessary amounts begin to decline, then the bladder is at a higher risk of developing problems.  If you have begun to notice dryness and sensitivity during sex, it’s likely you’re at risk for bladder problems as well.  Just as tissues of the vaginal wall begin to thin and dry out, so does the tissue that lines the bladder, leading to a more sensitive bladder susceptible to “hair-trigger” releases.

Further, the lack of estrogen may lead to the pelvic muscles to weaken.  Strong, functioning pelvic muscles are necessary for maintaining bladder control.

Several treatment options exist for an overactive bladder associated with menopause.  The first is to avoid foods in your diet that may irritate the bladder.  These foods include coffee and black tea, citrus fruits and juices, chocolate, regular and diet sodas, alcohol, spicy foods, tomatoes and tomato-based foods and sauces, artificial sweeteners, and vinegar and vinegar-based salad dressings.

You may also try to include several specific foods in your diet in order to protect your bladder from irritation and urges.  These foods include eight glasses of water spaced throughout the day, milk (cow, almond, or soy), and probiotic supplements (which help control yeast growth and promote a healthy bladder).

Kegel exercises are often recommended for those women with OAB.  These exercises are used to control the bladder’s ability to hold in urine by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles.  To perform the exercise, squeeze and hold the pelvic muscles and then relax them.  A nurse or physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor strengthening can also help with exercises.

Bladder retraining may also be necessary.  If you have OAB, your bladder muscles have been conditioned over time to influence the sudden need to urinate.  You may retrain your bladder by timing visits to the bathroom according to a strict schedule, gradually extending the intervals between bathroom visits.  A therapist may also teach you ways to distract yourself between bathroom visits.  Results from retraining usually take at least six to eight weeks to emerge.

Estrogen therapy is a possibility for some.  If the bladder symptoms first appeared during perimenopause or if you’re experiencing other menopause-related symptoms, your OB/GYN may help you control the symptoms with hormone therapy.  A ring or cream application containing vaginal estrogen has been found to be extremely effective in treating OAB.  Vaginal estrogen application is different from and should not be confused with systemic hormone therapy, which uses oral hormones and has more risks than the vaginal creams.

If you believe you have menopause-related OAB, talk to your doctor.  Many other treatments do exist, including weight loss, biofeedback, sacral nerve stimulation surgery, and/or other medications.  Your doctor will be able to determine the best treatment option for you.

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