Category Archives: Cancer Treatment & Wellness Center

What are the Health Benefits of Vitamin D

Posted on: May 20, 2015

Get the Details on Vitamin D

By Agnes Lu

Adequate vitamin D is important to your overall health for several reasons. It is essential for Grilled salmon with lemon isolated on whitestrong bones as it helps the body absorb calcium. It’s also needed for muscle movement, necessary for your nervous system and important to your immune system. Recent research shows that vitamin D may be key to the prevention of a number of long-term health problems such as cancer, type II diabetes and hypertension.

 

How much vitamin D do I need?
The amount of vitamin D needed depends on your age:
Birth – 12 months:                       400 IU/day
Age 1 – 70:                                     600 IU/day
Age 71 and older:                         800 IU/day
Pregnant and breastfeeding:     600 IU/day

How do I get vitamin D?
You can absorb vitamin D in three ways: through the skin, from diet, and from supplements.

Your body can produce vitamin D when your skin is sufficiently exposed to direct sunlight; however, unless you live in the South or Southwest, you are unlikely to get enough sunlight throughout the winter for your body to produce adequate amounts of vitamin D. Keep in mind, the American Academy of Dermatology does not recommend getting vitamin D from unprotected exposure to sunlight – which can increase your risk for skin cancer. Individuals with dark skin will absorb sunlight less efficiently.

There are a few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, and Americans get most of their vitamin D from fortified foods: milk, cereal, orange juice, and yogurt. If you’re looking for the natural sources of vitamin D, it can be found in fatty fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel. In smaller amounts, it can be found in beef liver, cheese and egg yolks.

Am I at risk for vitamin D deficiency?
There are certain groups that have a higher risk of being vitamin D deficient:
• Breastfed infants
• Older adults
• Individuals with limited sun exposure
• Individuals with dark skin
• Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease and other conditions that cause fat malabsorption
If you think you might be vitamin D deficient, speak with your doctor.

Try these two salmon and egg dishes.

Lox, eggs and onions (Serves 4)

Modified from foodnetwork.com

Ingredients
1 large Spanish onion
1 tablespoons canola oil
3oz lox, chopped
8 eggs
Pinch of pepper

Directions
Cut the onion in half, then slice thinly. In a large saute pan, heat the oil over high heat, then saute the onions until lightly colored.
In a bowl, beat eggs with a fork, then add to the pan. When the eggs have set on the bottom, scramble in the lox and flip over.
Cook and scramble until just set.
Serve with fresh fruit or side salad for a complete breakfast or lunch.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 220 calories, 14.1 g fat, 3.4 g saturated fat, 975 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrates, 1 g fiber, 19 g protein

 

Scandinavian Eggs Benedict with Yogurt Sauce

courtesy of Gooseberry Mooseberry http://www.gooseberrymooseberry.com/2012/04/scandinavian-eggs-benedict-with-yogurt.html
(Serves 2)

Ingredients
1 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
1/8 tsp powdered turmeric
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp horseradish
A crackle of white pepper
2 whole wheat English muffins, halved and toasted
4 slices of smoked salmon
4 poached eggs
Optional: chopped chives for garnish

Directions
In a medium bowl, whisk together yogurt and turmeric until yogurt turns a pale gold color.
Then stir in dill, lemon juice, horseradish, and pepperuntil combined. Leave it at room temperature for a few minutes as you cook the eggs. If you would like the sauce warmer, put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
Top each toasted English muffin half with a slice of smoked salmon, a poached egg and a dollop of yogurt sauce. Sprinkle with chopped chives for garnish.
Serve with fresh fruit or side salad for a complete breakfast or lunch.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 400 calories, 12 g total fat, 4 g saturated fat, 750 mg sodium, 51 g carbohydrates, 4.8 g fiber, 25 g protein

Editor’s Note: Agnes Lu, MS, RD, CDE, CDN

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Mammograms: An Effective Tool in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Posted on: May 13, 2015

Sandra Lee’s Diagnosis Has Many Women Asking: Should I Get a Mammogram?

Dr. Bonnie Litvack, Medical Director of the Women’s Imaging Center at Northern Westchester Hospital, answers questions many women have about when to start getting mammograms in light of the news that Food Network star and author Sandra Lee, who is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s partner, has been diagnosed with breast cancer.

When should I start getting routine mammograms?
I, along with the American Cancer Society, recommend women start getting annual mammograms at the age of 40. I know there are differing opinions, but there is not a high incidence of breast cancer before the age of 40. There are some exceptions, of course, which I explain below.

What if I have a history of breast cancer in my family? Should I start getting mammograms earlier?
If you have a family history of breast cancer, whether it is your mother, aunt, or grandmother on either side of the family, you should start getting mammograms 10 years earlier than the age your family member was diagnosed. For example, if your mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35, you should begin to get mammograms at age 25. However, 25 is the youngest age that I would recommend a woman get a mammogram. If your mother was diagnosed at age 30, I’d still recommend you begin getting mammograms at age 25.

What if I feel a lump in my breast?
Call your doctor and make an appointment. Your doctor will make recommendations about next steps, including getting a mammogram, if deemed necessary.

How long does a mammogram take, and does it hurt?
Typically a mammogram only takes a few minutes. While some patients experience some discomfort, they are in the minority, and if they feel any pain, we manage it.

What if I have no family history of breast cancer? Do I still need to get mammograms?
Absolutely. In fact, 75%-80% of breast cancer diagnoses are with women with no family history.

How effective are mammograms?
They are very effective. Since 1990, mammograms have helped decrease the death rate among breast cancer patients by 15%-40% depending on which studies you read. That is an impressive and encouraging number given that up until 1980, the death rate was steady. Mammograms are an incredibly effective tool to detect breast cancer early, or to rule it out.

Editor’s Note:
Under the leadership of Dr. Bonnie Litvak, the Women’s Imaging Center at Northern Westchester Hospital has been acclaimed as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology. She is fellowship trained in MRI and has extensive experience in all aspects of women’s imaging, including mammography.

Northern Westchester Hospital also offers 3-D mammography.

 

Protect Yourself from Skin Cancer Year-Round

Posted on: May 4, 2015

Surprising Facts About Year-Round Skin Cancer Risks…
…And Tips to Protect Yourself

By Dr. Stuart Zweibel

Did you know that skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States? Now, a recent SunProtection_HiRezstudy from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) finds an increase of 50 percent in the average annual number of adults treated for skin cancer. We all know how and when to protect our skin – or do we?  It’s essential to know the risk factors for skin cancer and the best forms of protection.  That’s particularly important during times, such as hazy days and winter, when many of us underestimate the risks to our skin from sun, and therefore relax our necessary safeguards.

Skin cancer occurs in two forms: melanoma and non-melanoma. Non-melanoma cancers, which are the most common, are almost always caused by sun exposure. For the more dangerous melanoma, genetics plays a larger role in determining your risk.

When we talk about sun exposure, we refer to the effect of three types of ultraviolet (UV) light – or radiation – on our skin: UVA, UVB and UVC. Skin cancer can develop when these skin-penetrating rays damage the DNA of our skin cells.

UVC is filtered out by the ozone layer. UVB causes sunburns and tans. While less UVA enters our atmosphere than UVB, it penetrates our skin deeply enough to potentially cause skin cancer. That’s why using “broad-spectrum” sunscreen is so important – only this type guards against both A and B.

Sunburn occurs when intense exposure to sun causes inflammation of the skin. Tanning is our body’s natural “sunscreen,” in which the skin’s pigment-producing cells increase production of pigment (in the form of the chemical compound melanin) to block harmful UV radiation. Sunburn is a visible sign of damage to the skin cells’ DNA. But while tanning may not produce inflammation, DNA damage has taken place.

The majority of people who develop a melanoma have a genetic predisposition to the disease.  For non-melanoma skin cancers, which are primarily caused by sun exposure, skin type becomes the dominant risk factor. You probably know that people with very pale or “porcelain” skin are at increased risk for skin damage from sun. In reality, four skin types are at greatest risk.  The first two will not surprise you – very pale skin that always burns and pale skin that tans minimally. But also vulnerable is skin that tans uniformly and only sometimes burns mildly, as well as skin that always gets the proverbial “beautiful” tan, with no burning.

Here is how I advise patients about skin cancer risks throughout the year,
and my best tips for protection:

Best year-round protection: Only use broad-spectrum protection with an SPF of 30 or higher. Even if a product is labeled as such, check that it contains the necessary ingredients meroxyl – sometimes called ecamsule – and avobenzone, which can be called parsol 1789. The Anthelios brand is one example of a very effective broad-spectrum sunscreen.

High-risk scenarios in winter:  Those enjoying outdoor sports in winter, particularly skiers and snowboarders, need to know that snow reflects UV rays and that higher altitudes mean slightly higher UV penetration. That makes sunscreen and lip protection vital, especially during spring skiing at higher altitudes. This is the case even when temperatures are low and it seems that sun exposure is not an issue. What’s more, winter’s low humidity and wind exposure can dry and irritate the skin, making moisturizers another key protection.

Are we at risk on overcast days? Radiation does penetrate on cloudier days. However, most people don’t realize that hazy days create significant UV ray exposure. People are fooled due to the seeming lack of intensity of the sun.

What times of day present greater risk from UV radiation?  During warm weather, the peak time is between 10 am and 4 pm. In winter in our latitude, peak UV radiation occurs around 11 am to 3 pm. That means you need sunscreen protection at certain times year-round.

When to apply: Sunscreen takes up to an hour to be fully effective. The biggest mistake people make is to get settled on the beach, and only after 15 minutes, have someone apply sunscreen to their back. By then, they will probably develop a burn from the exposure.

How much to apply: Most people apply far too little sunscreen. The average adult needs approximately one ounce to be protected.

Where to apply: Everywhere that is exposed – make sure to get it in your ears and behind your ears.  Protecting the nose is critical. 15 to 20 percent of all skin cancers occur on the nose. Protect your lips with balm or Chapstick with sun protection. If your clothing is sheer, apply sunscreen to your entire body. Wear sunglasses, a hat and protective clothing.

Protecting children:  Do not use sunscreen on babies under one year old. If needed, use protective clothing and consider using a non-chemical sunblock. However, be aware of recent suggestions that certain chemical-free blocks are ground so finely, they might enter the skin. So ask your pediatrician’s advice before using this type of sunblock on a child.

 

Editor’s Note:
By Stuart Zweibel, MD, PhD, is a board certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon specializing in skin cancer, laser surgery and cosmetic dermatology. Dr. Zweibel served as the Chief of the Division of Dermatology at Northern Westchester Hospital from 1999 to 2007. He has been recognized as a ‘Best Doctor’ in both New York Magazine and Westchester Magazine.

Dr Stuart Zweibel | Dermatologist Scarsdale NY | Mount Kisco NYDr. Zweibel is a graduate of Cornell University and completed his graduate studies at Temple University School of Medicine and Harvard School of Public Health earning a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology.

He graduated from Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He completed his residency at Brown University and a fellowship in Mohs and Dermatologic Surgery under Dr. Mohs in the department of Surgery at the University of Wisconsin Hospital.

 

 

 

 

 

The Pathologist: The Expert Behind the Scenes

Posted on: April 20, 2015

The Pathologist: The Expert Behind the Scenes

By Dr. Thomas Higgins

When patients are being treated for cancer, they may not realize that there is a specialist who PathologyMicroscope_silo_1plays an incredibly vital role in their care. One whom they will never meet — a pathologist like myself — who will provide a firm diagnosis, analyze the type of cancer the patient has, and provides information to suggest a course of treatment. We’re behind the scenes, but our input is necessary for oncologists and surgeons in understanding the type of tumor they’re dealing with.

Tissue biopsies are sent to a pathology laboratory to be carefully scrutinized by pathologists. In most cases we’re not only able to verify whether the tissue is cancerous, we can diagnose whether the tumor is aggressive or slower growing, and what type of drug might be most effective against the cancer. For example, a breast tumor that tests positive for a protein known as HER2 can be very aggressive and is unlikely to respond to hormone treatment. However, there are drugs that have been developed specifically to target tumors with this marker, and I provide information that the oncologist uses to decide upon the patient’s protocol.

As you can imagine, the need to properly identify the cancer and fully characterize it so the right treatment is prescribed is critical. We may not be meeting face to face with patients, but each slide we examine represents a real person. That’s why pathologists are careful to eliminate the chance of any possible errors. I will often consult one of the other pathologists in our department to help ensure accuracy. Northern Westchester Hospital has four pathologists on staff and we help check each other’s work.

Pathologists also send all their diagnoses to a state and national database through our cancer registry that can help keep track of the incidence of cancer and cancer types around the country. What’s more, I submit many of my reports to researchers who are overseeing clinical trials at the hospital. We’re part of about a dozen trials testing different types of treatments and protocols.

So if you or a loved one get a pathology report that identifies the type of cancer you have and the drugs that might help overcome the disease, you’ll know that you have a pathologist on your side.

Editor’s Note:
Thomas Higgins, MD is the Medical Director of Pathology at Northern Westchester Hospital.

Pulmonary Rehab and Quality of Life

Posted on: April 1, 2015

Pulmonary Rehab Can Improve Quality of Life

By Harlan R. Weinberg

Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is increasingly recognized as a significant part of treatment for Human respiratory system, artworkpeople with chronic respiratory illnesses and other lung conditions. Even for those with very impaired lung function, this specialized rehab can improve quality of life and the ability to live independently. Here, I explain how PR offers new hope to people with breathing difficulties.

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