LATEST HEADLINES: November 30, 2015

Lack of Sleep Can Increase Stroke Risk

WASHINGTON: Habitually sleeping less than 6 hours a night significantly increases the risk of stroke symptoms among middle-age to older adults, according to a research presented at the SLEEP 2012 conference.

The study, which followed about 5,600 people for about three years, concluded that poor sleep can undermine all the other things we do, China’s Xinhua news agency said.

The participants had no history of stroke, transient ischemic attack, stroke symptoms or high risk for obstructive sleep apnea at the start of the study.

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham recorded the first stroke symptoms, along with demographic information, stroke risk factors, depression symptoms and various health behaviours.

After adjusting for body-mass index, they found a strong association with daily sleep periods of less than six hours and a greater incidence of stroke symptoms for middle-age to older adults, even beyond other risk factors.

“We speculate that short sleep duration is a precursor to other traditional stroke risk factors, and once these traditional stroke risk factors are present, then perhaps they become stronger risk factors than sleep duration alone,” lead author Megan Ruiter said in a statement.

Further research may support the results, providing a strong argument for increasing public awareness of the impact of sleep as a risk factor for stroke symptoms, especially among persons who appear to have few or no traditional risk factors for stroke, she said. – Bernama

Source: Study: Lack of sleep can increase stroke risk

Budget for Cancer Treatment – Between RM240,000 and RM1.5mil

It is next to impossible to financially plan for cancer treatment.

Take one cancer scenario: EGFR-mutation-positive adenocarcinoma of the lung. This is one subset of lung cancer not uncommonly encountered.

In the US, 10,000 such cases are diagnosed each year; in the world, about 100,000.

In Malaysia, a guess estimate would be 800. The treatment of choice for this subset of lung cancer is either gefitinib or erlotinib.

The cost of treatment is RM10,000 a month (S$4,000). This covers the cost of the drug and other incidentals.

How long must the patient take this cancer drug? The answer is, “as long as the drug works”.

Which only begs the next question: “How long will the drug work?”

And this is the tricky part. In some patients, the drug is no longer effective after two months.

In about 5% of patients, the drug keeps the cancer in check for four years or more.

The rest lie in between.

You will have to budget between RM20,000 and RM480,000 for this treatment, for this particular cancer.

Take another scenario: metastatic cancer of the colon, K-RAS wild type.

Again, the number of patients with this cancer is not small, almost as many as the lung cancer subset we discussed.

Seminar after mind-numbing seminar, we are taught that the best results for patients with this subset of colon cancer are obtained if you use up all six effective drugs: 5-fluorouracil, leucovorin, irinotecan, oxaliplatin, cetuximab, and bevacizumab.

We are also taught that liver metastases (spread to the liver) should be resected whenever possible.

If we do our best for patients with this cancer, some will live for six months, and some other fortunate ones live four years or more.

And the cost of treatment? Between RM240,000 and RM1.5mil.

For more, read: Planning a budget for cancer treatment

Why waste all your hard-earned money on treatment with no guarantee results when you can fork out a small sum for your yearly health screening?… where chances of recovery are high when you catches cancer early…

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