Facts and Information about Liver Cancer

Facts and Information about Liver Cancer

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The American Cancer Society states the estimated number of 17,550 new cases of liver cancer that will be diagnosed in the United States in the year 2005. Also stated is the number 15,420 people that will die of liver cancer in the year 2005.

Primary liver cancer is a cancer which starts in the liver. Secondary or metastatic cancer is when cancer of another organ has spread to the liver.

Types of liver cancer

The liver is the largest internal organ of the body (the skin is actually the largest organ). The liver ways approximately 1500 grams and is surrounded by a fibrous capsule. It is a large gland of a dark-red color located in the upper part of the abdomen, protected by the rib cage, and is divided into sections called lobes. This helps understand the types of liver cancer.

The liver’s functions include the storage and filtration of blood, the secretion of bile, the excretion of bilirubin and other substances formed elsewhere in the body. The liver also performs numerous metabolic functions, including the uptake, storage and disposal of nutrients such as protein, carbohydrates, hormones, drugs, and toxins. It also destroys harmful substances such as alcohol, and helps the body to rid itself of waste products.

The liver is connected to the small intestines by the bile duct which is a small tube. The bile duct allows the bile produced by the liver to flow to the intestines. When the bile duct becomes clogged, the patient may become jaundiced.

Tumors of the liver may be benign or malignant. The most common primary malignant liver tumor is hepatocellular carcinoma.


In the early stages of liver cancer there are often no symptoms. Other symptoms of liver cancer may include:

•          Loss of appetite

•          Weight loss

•          Weakness

•          Nausea

•          Jaundice

•          A vague discomfort in the upper abdomen.

•          Ascites

•          Pain in the right shoulder

•          Fever

•          Abdominal swelling

•          Elevated liver enzymes


A number of factors are associated with the etiology of hepatocellular cancer. Risk factors include:

•          Hepatitis B

•          Gender

•          Aflatoxin contaminated food

•          Alcohol-induced cirrhosis

•          Certain drugs such as anabolic steroids, Thorotrast, and immunosuppressive agents.

•          Aromatic amines

•          Pesticides

•          Chlorinated hydrocarbons

•          Tobacco use

•          Arsenic

•          Oral Contraceptives

Facts and Information about Pancreatic Cancer

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Pancreatic cancer is known to be one of the most serious of all cancers. Cancers of the exocrine pancreas is the second most common malignancy and the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimated an astounding number of 31,860 Americans diagnosed for the year 2004. It is sad to say that in our advanced age of medicine almost the same number of patients will die this year as the number of newly diagnosed patients. This is one reason it is so important to start considering alternative methods to increase the immune system at the same time of doing an anti-tumor program.

Pancreatic cancer normally appears at the age of 55 to 65 years of age and occurs 1 1/2 to 2 times more often in men.


•          Pancreatic cancer metastases rapidly and is seldom diagnosed early because the patient’s symptoms are not always noticed.

•          Often times the onset of symptoms are gradual and the patient’s doctor may interpret the symptoms as another diagnosis.

•          Symptom Triad: 

1.         Weight loss is usually gradual and progressive.

2.         Abdominal pain is usually described as a steady “boring” midepigastric pain that is usually worse at night.

3.         Jaundice may present late and can be progressive or spontaneous fluctuations.


* Diets high in fat have been associated with development of pancreatic cancer. Other considerations include ingestion of meat and total caloric intake from fried foods, dairy products and seafood.

* There have been a number of studies that suggests diabetics have a greater chance of developing pancreatic cancer.

* It is unusual to find pancreatic cancer in a patient younger than 40 years of age. The risk of developing pancreatic cancer increases with age.

* Studies have proven that pancreatic cancer is more common in the African-American population.

* Cigarette smoking is one of the biggest risk factors due to cigarettes containing a large number of carcinogens.

* Cancer of the pancreas is more common in men than women.

* Chronic pancreatitis has been linked to pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer Glossary

•          Benign: not malignant; not recurrent; not cancerous

•          Biopsy: the removal and examination of a small piece of tissue from the living body to denameine if cancer cells are present.

•          CA 19-9: a tumor marker for pancreatic cancer found in the patient’s blood.

•          Carcinogens: any substance that has the ability to cause cancer.

•          Carcinogenic: any substance that causes cancer.

•          Chemotherapy: a treatment for disease by using chemical agents.

•          Malignancy: a cancerous growth which has the tendency to progress.

•          Metastatic: the transfer of a cancer from one organ to another.

•          Radiation: a treatment of disease using high-frequency ionizing radiation.

•          Tumor: a growth of tissue in which the division of cells is uncontrolled and progressive.

Facts and Information about Lung Cancer

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In the United States, lung cancer is presently the leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women. Normally lung cancer starts out in the cells lining the bronchi. Lung cells usually reproduce to maintain healthy lung tissue and repair old, aged, damaged cells. If for some reason the growth mechanism is off, the cell growth can become too much and the cells can divide too fast. This process can continue and grow in an uncontrolled way causing a tumor.

Carcinoma of the lung has the ability to metastasize early. Common sites of metastasis include brain, bone, the other lung, liver, adrenals, lymph nodes, and skin.

Metastasis to the lungs is commonly from cancer that originated from the breast, colon, prostate, kidney, thyroid, stomach, rectum, cervix, testis, bone and from melanoma.

It is very important to try to contain the rate of cancer cell growth. It can also be important to build the body’s immune system while doing an anti-tumor program. The more you build your body’s system, the greater strength the body has to help you fight off the cancer.

Lung Anatomy

The lungs are considered the organs of respiration. The lungs occupy both sides of the chest cavity inside the rib cage. The right lung has three lobes and the left lung has two lobes. The bottom of each lung extends down to the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the major breathing muscle that separates the chest from the abdominal cavity.

Types of lung cancers

There are many different types of lung cancers but two main histological types. These two types are:

1.         Non-small cell lung cancer which has three subtypes:

o          Squamous cell frequently originating in the larger bronchi and sometimes spreading by extension and lymph node metastasis.

o          Adenocarcinoma of the lung commonly peripheral and found in the mucus glands. This type usually spreads through the blood stream.

o          Large cell carcinoma is usually found near the surface of the lung.

2.         Small cell lung cancer tends to be more aggressive and spreads quickly. This type is also highly associated with smoking.


The most frequent signs and symptoms are:

•          Cough is the most common symptom of lung cancer.

•          Hemoptysis or coughing up blood.

•          Dyspnea or difficulty in breathing. Dyspnea is greatly associated with cigarette smoking and emphysema.

•          Wheezing can occur with partial blockage or obstruction.

•          Pneumonia

•          Chest, shoulder, or arm pain

•          Weight loss

•          Bone pain

•          Hoarseness

•          Headaches or seizures

•          Swelling of the face

•          Pleural effusion is when there is some fluid in the lung or lungs.


It is believed that cigarette smoking is the number one reason for lung cancers. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death. The more cigarettes smoked in a day and the younger the age of starting to smoke, the greater the risk of lung cancer. The major chemicals in cigarettes other than nicotine are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHS), nicotine by-products, metals such as cadmium and nickel, tobacco-specific nitrosamines (TSNAs), and radioactive polonium 210 (210Po). Elements of cigarette vapor include oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, water, nitrogen oxides, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide, benzene, and toluene.

New studies are showing that alcoholism is associated with significant immune suppression. The correlation is shown by changes in the interferon system and by the altered activity of the natural killer cells.

Lung cancer can develop in regions of scar areas such as scars from tuberculosis. This type of lung cancer diagnosis is often difficult to make.

Exposure to certain industrial substances such as arsenic, some organic chemicals, occupational or environmental exposures to radon and asbestos, is also considered great risk factors.

More risk factors include radiation exposure from occupational, medical, and environmental sources.

Air pollution is becoming more and more a risk factor. Some possible air pollutants are diesel exhaust, tar and pitch, arsenic, dioxin, cadmium, chromium, and nickel compounds.

A diet low in fruit and vegetables is linked to an increase in lung cancer. Studies show a positive correlation between the intake of cholesterol and dietary fat and lung cancer.

Lung Cancer Glossary

•          Adenocarcinoma: a type of cancer cell derived from glandular tissue or in which the tumor cells form recognizable glandular structures.

•          Atelectasis: the collapse of a lung

•          Benign:not malignant; not recurrent; not cancerous.

•          Biopsy: the removal and examination of a small piece of tissue from the living body to determine if cancer cells are present.

•          Bronchi: the large airway that runs from the trachea to the lungs.

•          Bronchioles: the smaller air passages that lead from the bronchi further into the lung tissue.

•          Bronchoscope: an instrument for inspecting the interior of the lungs and allows a way to get specimens for culture or biopsy.

•          Bronchoscopy: examination of the bronchi through the use of a bronchoscope.

•          Carcinogens: any substance that has the ability to cause cancer.

•          Carcinogenic: any substance that causes cancer.

•          Chemotherapy: a treatment for disease by using chemical agents.

•          Dyspnea: difficulty in breathing.

•          Hemoptysis: the coughing or spitting up of blood.

•          Malignancy: a cancerous growth which has the tendency to progress.

•          Metastatic: the transfer of a cancer from one organ to another.

•          Metastatic: the transfer of a cancer from one organ to another.

•          Radiation: a treatment for disease using high-frequency ionizing radiation.

•          Trachea: the windpipe connecting the larynx and the bronchi.

•          Tumor: a growth of tissue in which the division of cells is uncontrolled and progressive.

Facts and Information about Colon Cancer

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The diagnosis of colon or colorectal cancer accounts for more newly cancer diagnoses in the United States each year. Cancer of the colon and rectum is the most frequent cause of cancer deaths among visceral malignancies that affect both male and female. This type cancer is the second leading cancer death rate, lung being first. There was an estimated 146,940 new diagnosed cases in 2004 in the U.S. Many of the new cases and deaths are preventable by improvements in nutrition, physical activity and regular check ups. When colorectal cancer is detected early, survival rates are much higher. If the patient works with a team to rebuild their immune system, survival rates are ever higher.

Colorectal cancers include the colon, rectum, appendix and anus. Colorectal cancers may occur anywhere in the large intestines but usually occur in the right ascending colon.

The colon is the part of the large intestines which extends from the cecum to the rectum. It can be described as a long coiling, looping tube-like organ that removes water from digested food and solid waste material called feces or stool. The average colon is approximately 6 feet long.

Cancer of the colon and rectum possibly can spread by:

  1. Extension through the bowel wall
  2. Distribution by the circulation or through the blood stream (hematogenous).
  3. Regional lymph node metastases
  4. Surrounding nerve or nerves ( perineural).
  5. Within the wall of a nearby organ (intramural).


Early diagnosis depends on routine examination. Adenocarcinoma of the colon and rectum is believed to grow slowly and at a long time span before it is large enough to produce symptoms. Cells may change from a precancerous state or benign polyp to a cancerous state. Colon cancer symptoms may include:

  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • The stool may be streaked or mixed with blood
  • A change in bowel habits
  • Diarrhea, constipation or narrowing of the stool as if becoming more like a ribbon shape
  • Feeling of fullness or that you can not empty completely
  • Feeling of tired or weakness
  • Paleness
  • Repeated infections
  • Anemia
  • Gas, bloating, abdominal cramps, abdominal pain.
  • Pain can be absent until perirectal tissue is involved.
  • A yellowish color of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Loss of appetite


The exact reason why some people get colorectal cancer is not always known, however studies have shown that there are certain factors that may play a large role in breaking down the immune system. When our immune system can not fight off the problems that can arise, disease states can set in. Known predisposing conditions for colorectal cancer include:

  • A history of having multiple colon polyps.
  • A history of inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
  • Diet low in fiber and high in animal protein and refined carbohydrates.
  • Physical inactivity of less than 3-4 hours per week
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption of more than 1 drink a day
  • Age- The incidence of colorectal cancer increases with age starting around the age of 50. This disease affects both male and female.

Recommendations for Prevention

  • Eat plenty of fiber and vegetables daily
  • Adopt a physically active lifestyle
  • Find happiness! Do not wait for it to come to you.
  • Maintain a good weight for you and your bone frame.
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Try to stop smoking and have the goal to stop smoking.
  • Get routine physical check ups from your doctor.

Diagnostic Tests

  • Fecal Occult Blood Test
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
  • Barium Enema
  • Colonoscopy
  • Complete Blood Test (CBC) to check for anemia and assess liver function

Colon Colon Glossary

  • Barium Enema: An x-ray of the colon and rectum using a suspension of barium given as an enema into the intestine as a contrast agent for radiologic examination. The barium outlines the intestines on the x-rays which allows abnormal growths to be seen.
  • Benign: not malignant; not recurrent; not cancerous.
  • Biopsy: the removal and examination of a small piece of tissue from the living body to determine if cancer cells are present.
  • Chemotherapy: a treatment for disease by using chemical agents.
  • Colonoscope: an elongated flexible instrument with a light that is built in which permits visual examination of the entire colon and rectum.
  • Colonoscopy: an examination in which the doctor uses a colonscope to examine the colon and rectal areas. This procedure allows the doctor to take biopsies or remove polyps.
  • Fecal Occult Blood Test: A test to check for hidden blood in the stool. These tests can be bought at your local pharmacies now so you can check at home. You can also request a test from your doctor and can take it home and return it the next day for your doctor to check it.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: >A procedure in which the doctor uses an instrument with a light and camera on the end of the tube which is very flexible. This procedure allows the doctor to inspect the lower colon and rectal areas.
  • Metastatic: the transfer of a cancer from one organ to another.
  • Polyp: a protruding growth, often precancerous.
  • Radiation: a treatment for disease using high-frequency ionizing radiation.
  • Sigmoidoscope: a rigid or flexible lighted instrument with a camera that allows the doctor to view the lining of the rectum and lower colon areas.
  • Tumor: a growth of tissue in which the division of cells is uncontrolled and progressive.

What Goes into Building a New Hospital

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A new inpatient medical facility will offer comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services for residents in the many communities we serve. The building is designed to move the patient through the journey to wellness. It uses “best practices” to enhance patient care. Of course, this doesn’t account for the cost and components of actually running the hospital after it’s built, but the following highlights provide context for all that goes into constructing a medical center:

Main Entrance and Lobby

Single entrance to simplify way-finding

Comprehensive medical library and resource center that is open to the public

Education center with meeting spaces for up to 300 people

Spiritual center with space for meditation and prayer

Front of House/Back of House Design

Separate corridors for the public and for patient transport

Streamlined Emergency Department (ED)

Comprehensive diagnostic services next to the ED

Helipad near the ED to ease emergency transit

Operating/Procedure Rooms

Three oversized operating rooms

One Cardiac Cath Lab

Seven specialty-sized or general operating rooms

Six procedure rooms for endoscopy and cystoscopy

Private patient rooms for pre-operative preparation and post-operative recovery so families can stay with patients

Inpatient Wings

Located away from the main entrance to reduce noise and disruption

Separate wings devoted to specific types of inpatient care

192 private patient rooms which:

Enhance patient safety and healing by reducing infection risk

Allow confidential communications with doctors and nurses

Feature family visiting/sleeping capacity

Have large windows to maximize light and views of nature

Outpatient Facilities

Extensive diagnostic facilities and doctor’s offices

Basic Concepts and Categories of Personal Health

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We understand that there is a great deal of confusion associated with health and wellness. Unlimited varying opinions from nutritionists, doctors and other health experts can often cloud one’s judgement and learning capabilities. We have gone to some lengths to create a message that could be easily understood. With this in mind, we cover a wide variety of topics such as disease, nutrition, social issues, and weight loss to help you understand these concepts within the overall context of your personal health.



What you eat is probably the most important aspect of your health and wellness. Your nutrition is responsible for feeding the trillions of cells of your body in order that they may grow, reproduce and flourish as they were intended to do. When you fail to provide adequate nutrition, the body systems start to malfunction and breakdown.


Personal Growth

The world is constantly evolving. As things continue to change so must we if we desire to be on the winning side. The consistent and constant search for personal enhancement is the infrastructure of any successful person’s life. The largest room that you will ever be in is the room for improvement. It is not only your physical state of health that determines your level of health and wellness but it is your mental state as well.



The word disease has scared more people than the famed folklore character known as the “boogeyman.” Just mention this word in a conversation and look at the fear in the eyes of others around you. When you dissect the word disease you notice that it is simply a dis-ease within the body. In other words, the body is not at ease. In order to fix the situation you simply have to learn what it takes to help the body to become at ease again. Learning about diseases and what you can do to prevent and in many cases heal from them will prove to beneficial for anyone in the long run.



There is an adage that says “use it or lose it.” The human body is a perfect regenerating system that requires daily movements in order that it may function at optimal and efficient levels. Failure to exercise consistently leads to a lethargic body that is prone to attract sedentary-type degenerative diseases. When you exercise you perspire which is a form of cleaning toxins and releasing endorphins. Endorphins are known as the “happy chemicals” that are released during exercise or other activities. As a result the more active you are the better you feel. Working out helps you to strengthen and stretch certain body parts which essentially enhances your body’s proper mechanical function or an extended period of time.


Environmental Health

Clean air, clean water and plants are necessary for the survival of all life forms on earth. We have taken the liberty to provide what we feel to be important environmental information that can help improve the quality of your particular environment. Remember that you are a product of your environment. If that environment is contaminated then so shall you be. Be aware of your surroundings and do your best to do your part.


Weight Management

The United States is currently number one in the world in obesity. This epidemic has spiraled far beyond out-of-control. The issue now affects children. The result of this trickling effect is the contraction of adult diseases during their childhood years. Wherever there is excess weight gain you can be certain that there will be a health issue attached to that weight gain. Refined foods, fried foods and snacks are all primary contributors to weight gain. Eating the right foods and avoiding the “artificial foods” will be the key to combating this issue. Managing your weight does not require that you become a vegan, but you need to select foods from a group of known micronutrient rich foods. There are no magic bullets.


Take Care of Your Mouth and Throat During Cancer Treatment

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Most people associate chemotherapy treatment with extreme nausea and loss of hair, but this kind of treatment can have serious dental and oral consequences, consequences which can be mitigated or avoided altogether by taking preventative steps. The following are common occurrences for a person having chemotherapy treatment.


Oral Effects of Chemo

  • Mouth sores and infections.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Bleeding of the gums and the inside of the mouth.
  • Pain, discomfort and soreness of the mouth.

There may be difficulty with eating and swallowing which can cause nutritional problems. The food will can taste different due to the effect of the treatment on the taste buds and tongue.


Oral Problem Prevention Before Chemo

Preventive measures can be taken before the onset of the cancer treatment. The oncologist will suggest a visit to a specialist dentist a few weeks before the chemotherapy begins. The dentist will expect the person to—

  • Have a thorough examination of mouth and gums.
  • Be given careful instructions on how to carry out oral hygiene while having the treatment.
  • Participate in any dental repairs deemed necessary by the dentist.
  • Cooperate in having a thorough dental cleaning by a dental hygienist.
  • Have a dental x-ray carried out. 


Oral Hygiene During Chemo

The person should carefully follow the instruction given by the dentist. Also, the oncologist in charge of the chemotherapy treatment may advise that –

  • A special mouth wash be used to prevent any mouth sores which could lead to infection, since chemotherapy treatment can affect the immune system of the aged person and lower its resistance to other infections.
  • The person avoid eating any food with sharp edges in order not to scratch or cut the gums.
  • Alcohol, tobacco, and spicy or acidic foods should not be taken at all.


If the above instructions are followed, then the person can safely maintain his/her normal oral hygiene habits. This should include brushing and flossing twice each day with a soft toothbrush and avoiding mouthwashes which contain alcohol. Some specialists recommend sucking on ice chips and keeping the mouth moist at all times to counter dry mouth.

What it Means that No Amount of Alcohol Consumption is Healthy

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A new massive global health study suggests what we’ve been told for decades isn’t true—or at least it isn’t the whole truth. One or two glasses of red wine isn’t good for overall health. The truth is that no amount of alcohol, no matter how small, can deliver health benefits that outweigh the costs. And here’s where things get interesting. While this study doesn’t contradict previous studies that indicate 1-2 adult beverages may have heart benefits, what it does say is that the increased risk across a range of cancers outweighs the heart benefits.


Look at Your Family History, and Talk to Your Doctor

It also means that it’s potentially important to consider individualized health risks. If up to 2 glasses of wine helps reduce the incident of fatal heart disease, while increasing cancer risk, then it’s fair to ask whether the conclusions of this study are valid for people with a long family history of heart disease but only minimal rates of cancer. Even then, it’s not as though the alcohol consumption doesn’t increase the risk of cancer, but it’s possible that such an individual who focuses on their heart health is able to live long enough to get the cancer that eventually kills them. On the flip side of the coin, if you have a more established family history of cancer, this is an even stronger reason to think twice about consistently indulging even moderate amounts of alcohol. This is the type of modification we make to our thinking in light on this study.


True at Every Age

Another interesting takeaway from this study is that it holds true at every age, and based on mortality rates is especially true for younger adults. From this National Public Radio report, here are the most compelling statistics:

The study looked at a broad range of risks posed by alcohol consumption, including diseases, driving accidents and self-harm. According to the report, alcohol led to 2.8 million deaths in 2016. It was the leading risk factor for disease worldwide, the study found, accounting for almost 10 percent of deaths among those ages 15 to 49.


Quality of Life, Knowing the Facts, Making Choices

Even if follow-up studies continue to suggest that any amount of alcohol isn’t the best possible health choice, we’re not sure stopping is the right choice for everyone who’s currently…partaking in the habit. Certainly, fewer seniors will take up the habit as their primary care physicians dial back or stop offering this advice altogether. But if you enjoy an adult beverage and/or have a family history of heart disease and if you understand there’s a higher risk of getting cancer that comes with this habit, this practice can be chocked up to personal choices and quality of life. Put differently, we don’t know anybody who makes the healthiest possible choice in every single situation.

And more to this point, while clinical studies are different than hospital-based care, when we talk about healthcare outside of hospital settings, know too that these types of studies must be consumed within the perspective of our personal health goals.



NY Times Op-Ed Agrees that Hospital Care is in Decline

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Oncologist, bioethicist, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress—and a key figure in the development of the Affordable Care Act—Ezekiel Emanuel recently wrote an op-ed in the New York Times that describes how the hospital has been in decline for decades and how this is more of a sign of medical progress than a lack of access to care. For those who are unfamiliar with our site, this is pretty much our raison d’etre, and it’s good to know that some of the most experienced professionals in the healthcare field agree with your central tenet.


Among the facts cited in the NY Times article:


At its peak, in 1981, there were “over 39 million hospitalizations — 171 admissions per 1,000 Americans. Thirty-five years later, the population has increased by 40 percent, but hospitalizations have decreased by more than 10 percent….the number of hospitals has declined to 5,534 this year from 6,933 in 1981.”

In 2002, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that there were 1.7 million cases of hospital-acquired infections that caused nearly 100,000 deaths….Studies have shown that patients with heart failure, pneumonia and some serious infections can be given intravenous antibiotics and other hospital-level treatments at home by visiting nurses. These ‘hospital at home’ programs usually lead to more rapid recoveries, at a lower cost.


Just to say it, neither we nor Emanuel are zealots or absolutists when it comes to hospitals. There is still an important place for hospital-based care including major surgeries, trauma care, and other types of acute and specialized medical care. But hospital settings also carry their own unique healthcare risks—namely healthcare-associated infections—that may outweigh the potential benefits. Likewise, you may be that infectious agent. Otherwise healthy adults should avoid the hospital when they have the flu lest they infect more vulnerable populations.


Barriers to Empowerment in Modern Health Care

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One of the big ways in which the traditional hospital and healthcare system fails is when it disempowers individuals to understand the cost of their healthcare services. Health provider networks frequently claim to offer greater overall efficiency, but it’s hard to know and hard to measure when costs and services so frequently seem made up on the fly. Perhaps, just as bad, it creates an environment in which patients are unable to clearly understand the cost of their healthcare and, thus, are less empowered to plan for their future health needs.


Even Dental Coverage is Anything but Transparent

I’ve recently had a couple different circumstances to experience these frustrations, if not outright failings. I had a crown put in last November and December. During the initial visit, I sat down with the dentist’s billing coordinator to go over how much it would cost. I was told one price, split over two different bills that I paid during the initial visit as well as the follow-up visit. Putting in the crown was a two-step process.

In between the two visits, our health insurance was cancelled by my wife’s employer. So, then, in January, I got a bill for $133 itemized over some two dozen different largely indecipherable service descriptions. Now, this wasn’t my first rodeo when it comes to billing codes, service authorization, coverage policies, and the murky ways in which health insurance doesn’t works. But this bill seemed entirely unintelligible. I ended up calling the dentist and, after telling my whole story to a new billing coordinator and the regional manager, they decided to simply write the bill off. I still don’t know how much what service cost. I mean, it’s one thing to not consider costs for emergency health services, but the dentist office? Can’t I at least take a proactive approach to my dental care and service costs?


Trying to Get a Quote at the Dermatologist Office

Right around the same time, my wife went to the dermatologist and was deciding whether to get ultimately harmless but not very pleasant-looking age spots removed from her face. How much was the necessary liquid nitrogen treatment going to cost? The dermatologist’s office wasn’t sure. The Internet said the treatment might cost anywhere from $150 to $1,600. We eventually had to contact the health insurer with the correct billing codes from the dermatologist office to know what the bill was going to be.


Partisan Conflict Increases Dysfunction in the Health Care System

The health care system suffers from the haphazard way that competing philosophies have been implemented. It’s like we keep telling people and families to take greater personal responsibility for their health care and health outcomes, while simultaneously subjecting them to an over-managed and largely opaque health care system that tells them to shut up, wait to see what the bill will be, and then pay it—or don’t.

It starts with our state and national politics and then slowly, perpetually infects local health providers and individual health consumers. It degrades the trust that patients have in any number of hospital and healthcare settings. And it creates invisible inefficiencies that make it difficult for even health care industry experts to understand how to improve the system itself.


Food Choices More Effective than Nutritional Metrics?

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Sure, there are dozens of headline-grabbing studies that have us tweaking our diets and lifestyle for optimal health, but the fundamentals of good nutrition never change. Or do they? A new study published in JAMA suggests some fundamentals are, shall we say, more fundamental than others. For years, we were told if you want to lose or manage your weight, above all else, you need to watch and limit your calorie intake and increase your calorie consumption.

Here’s the key takeaway in this NYTimes feature story:

It found that people who cut back on added sugar, refined grains and highly processed foods while concentrating on eating plenty of vegetables and whole foods — without worrying about counting calories or limiting portion sizes — lost significant amounts of weight over the course of a year.


Consistent Results Across Subgroups

The study also suggests that these weight loss benefits applied to whether the individual was following a low-fat or low-carb diet, as well as different genetics and insulin responses. Indeed, it’s easy to think that this type of approach might work for other people, but you think the meticulous details involved with counting calories in (diet) and calories out (exercise). It’s not as though you can’t lose weight, especially in the short-term, with this method. But it seems like the best long-term results must also take into account the composition and food choices of one’s diet—and the physiological effects that may be caused by the psychological act of counting calories.

It’s also easy to think that using added sugar and refined grains as a carrot for the rest of your diet and exercise is a solid strategy. And cutting these types of foods out of your diet altogether is hard in today’s culture and time demands. Still, incremental progress can be substantial progress over time. By picking out and eliminating even one food that you regularly eat that’s high in added sugar or refined grains and replacing it with a wholesome grain or vegetable, you’re likely doing yourself more good than all the calorie counts and exercise charts in the world.


The Human Body is a Complex Organism

In many ways, it makes us think of physics and the ways in which the observer and the observation itself can change the outcome of an experiment. Worrying about and counting calories really do seem to make the consumption of these calories less satisfying. Stress changes the composition of hormones and enzymes swirling around in our bodily system. If you combine counting calories with tracking your weight on a scale—or even just pant size, and who doesn’t do this?—but as you track more and more nutritional metrics, there becomes the very real possibility that you’re so removed from the holistic process of choosing what foods you eat and how you perceive these foods satisfying your appetite.



Modern Health Care and the “New Hospital”

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Compared to the health services of yesterday, healthcare today is a lot more sophisticated and responsive. Part of this improvement has been technological advancements, but these contributions are often over-hyped. By comparison, the contributions of taking an integrated and holistic approach aren’t given their proper due. It’s not so much that people are unfamiliar with integrated health or holistic medicine, but rather it’s the way they’re portrayed and received by patients and health-conscious audiences. More than new-age buzzwords, these terms speak to wide-ranging improvements to treatment protocols that seek to integrate different approaches and therapies to the benefit of the patient and health outcomes.


At Modern Health Care, we like to say that the new hospital has no walls. Instead, it’s a community of services, providers, and information resources. Sure, you still need a suitable building to house various types of medical equipment and health supplies. Yes, you still need a highly trained and highly skilled staff of health professionals. But the thing is that, more and more, health providers are doing a better job of understanding how to design treatment programs that take into account an individual’s environment and behavior outside of the clinical arena. It’s this kind of integration and innovation that we seek to highlight at Modern Health Care.


And yet, even as we recognize how interconnected our health and health services truly are, we can’t talk about the stories and influences and connections all at once. So, we created a few different landscapes and organizing themes to help you explore these various connections and what they mean to your personal health.