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Kidney Cancer Facts

The kidneys are two organs in the body that filter the blood and remove waste material and excess water by making urine that is expelled as waste. Cancer is the growth of malignant (abnormal) cells within the body. Although the exact cause of kidney cancer is not known, risk factors include smoking, obesity, high blood pressure, long-term dialysis,Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) syndrome, occupational exposure (coke oven workers and asbestos workers, for example), and male gender.

Signs and symptoms of kidney cancer include :

Blood in the urine, constant pain in the side or flank, a lump or mass in the abdomen or side, fever, weight loss, and fatigue. The following tests are used to help diagnose kidney cancer: physical exam, urine tests, CT and/or MRI of kidney tissue, and ultrasound. Surgical removal of kidney tissue allows the type of kidney cancer to be determined.

Renal cell cancer ( subtypes: clear cell, papillary renal cell, chromophobe renal cell ) makes up about 90% of all kidney cancers. Rare types of kidney cancer include carcinoma of the collecting ducts, renal medullary carcinoma, sarcomatoid cancer, transitional cell carcinoma, Wilms tumor in children, oncocytoma, hereditary papillary renal cancer, and unclassified renal cell carcinomas.

Kidney cancer is staged by measuring the size of the tumor, the location of the cancer cells either confined to the kidney, locally spread, or widespread beyond the fibrous tissue surrounding the kidney (stages I through IV).

There are other similar staging systems. Treatment of kidney cancer includes one of or a combination of the following methods: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, embolization, biological therapy, and surgery.

Side effects of kidney cancer treatment are related to the methods used and may include the following: nausea and vomiting, weakness, weight loss, infection, flu-like symptoms, diarrhea, skin rash, and hair loss.After treatment, follow-up care is very important to monitor recovery and to check for any possible recurrence of kidney cancer. Research is ongoing; combined chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation is an active area of research. Other studies include developing cancer vaccines to help the immune system attack cancer cells. There are a number of resources available for patients who have kidney cancer. Read More

What Does Big Blood Clots in Period Mean? Heavy Bleeding

It is normal to pass blood clots occasionally during menstruation; however, frequently passing large blood clots could be a sign of any underlying issue.

When you pass blood clots during your periods occasionally, it is normal. Many women pass blood clots on the second or third day of their periods.

However, if the bleeding is very heavy during all days of the period, you may pass frequent clots, which may be a cause for concern.

Menorrhagia means menstrual bleeding that is more (heavier) than usual.

If you change your tampon every two hours or sooner If you pass blood clots larger than the size of a quarter on any day of the period If your periods last more than seven daysIf your cycle is less than 21 days If you need to change pads or tampons in the middle of the night

Many conditions may affect your menstrual cycle, making them heavier and prone to passing clots.

6 reasons why you may be passing big blood clots


  • Stress Any type of stress (physical or emotional) can cause the release of stress hormones in the body. This can cause hormonal imbalance that may lead to heavier bleeding and clots.
  • Thyroid disorders If you suffer from an over-functioning (hyperthyroidism) or under-functioning (hypothyroidism) thyroid gland, it can affect the hormones that regulate your period. This may impact the flow and severity of your menstrual cycle. The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of your neck.The thyroid imbalances may be caused by various conditions, including stress, autoimmune disorders, iodine or selenium-deficient diet, drugs, or tumors.If your doctor suspects that you suffer from a thyroid condition, they will do a physical examination, run a thyroid panel to estimate TSH, T3, and T4 along with antithyroid antibody levels in your blood. This may or may not be followed by thyroid sonography.
  • Uterine fibroids Uterine fibroids grow inside the uterus and its lining can cause a heavier period than normal. Similarly, small growths called the uterine polyps that grow along with the cervix, or the lining of the uterus can cause heavy bleeding and blood clots in your menstrual flow. The uterine fibroids are often diagnosed using sonography, uterine computed tomography scan, and laparoscopic procedures.
  • Birth control Many types of birth control, especially intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUCD) inserted inside the uterus can cause you to experience heavier bleeding or clots during periods. This may happen up to a year after the IUCD was inserted.
  • Medications Many drugs can cause clots and heavier periods. Medications, such as blood thinners, anticoagulants (Warfarin, clopidogrel, aspirin), contribute to abnormal menstrual flow and bleeding. Sometimes, they may cause clots.
  • A missed abortion An undetected miscarriage early in the pregnancy can often be confused for a large clot.The pregnancy test may or may not be positive before the period starts. It may be accompanied by abdominal cramps and general malaise (feeling of being unwell). Read More

Insulin Isn’t the Only Blood Sugar Regulator

Scientists have known for 100 years that insulin is the body’s main mechanism for controlling blood sugar levels, but researchers have now discovered a second hormone does the same job a bit differently — and they say it could be a new target for treating diabetes.

The hormone, called FGF1, is produced in the body’s fat tissue. Like insulin, it swiftly lowers sugar levels in the blood, but researchers found in mice that it works independently of insulin, and by a different mechanism.

Type 2 diabetes arises when the body becomes resistant to insulin, leading to chronically high blood levels of glucose (sugar). Over time, that can take a toll on the body’s arteries and nerves, leading to complications like heart and kidney disease, stroke, vision problems and permanent nerve damage.

In the new study, scientists found FGF1 suppresses the breakdown of fat tissue, which reduces the liver’s ability to churn out glucose. Insulin also does those things, but FGF1 accomplishes it via a different “signaling pathway” in the body.

And in lab mice with insulin resistance, injections of FGF1 substantially lower blood sugar.

“This mechanism is basically a second loop, with all the advantages of a parallel pathway,” said study author Gencer Sancar, a postdoctoral researcher at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

“In insulin resistance, insulin signaling is impaired,” Sancar said in an institute news release. “However, with a different signaling cascade, if one is not working, the other can. That way you still have the control of [fat breakdown] and blood glucose regulation.”

However, whether the animal findings will ultimately translate to people with type 2 diabetes remains to be seen.

One question is whether people who are insulin-resistant would also be resistant to FGF1, noted Dr. Emily Gallagher, an endocrinologist who was not involved in the study.

She said it’s also possible that targeting FGF1 could be effective in certain people with type 2 diabetes, but not others.

“Type 2 diabetes is a complex condition where different individuals have different metabolic profiles,” explained Gallagher, an assistant professor in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Scientists had known something about the workings of FGF1. In past studies, the Salk researchers found that it lowered blood sugar in lab mice, and when given continually it lessened insulin resistance in the animals.

The new study, published Jan. 4 in the journal Cell Metabolism, delved into exactly how the hormone works.

The researchers found that, similar to insulin, FGF1 suppresses fat breakdown, which in turn helps control blood sugar. But its modus operandi is different: Insulin acts through an enzyme called PDE3B, which sets off a chain of events called a signaling pathway.

FGF1 uses a different enzyme — called PDE4.

“Now that we’ve got a new pathway, we can figure out its role in energy homeostasis in the body and how to manipulate it,” said senior study author Michael Downes, a staff scientist at Salk.

Gallagher said it’s “very interesting” that FGF1 can have insulin-like effects in fat tissue. But much more remains to be learned.

More lab research, she said, is needed to understand the long-term effects of FGF1 on insulin signaling and insulin resistance.

“And in people,” Gallagher said, “it would be important to understand more about the systemic effects of administering FGF1, as FGF1 affects many organ systems — including the inflammatory system — and also can alter tumor growth.”

Whether manipulating the hormone, or the proteins it regulates, would be appropriate in people with type 2 diabetes “remains to be determined,” Gallagher said. Read More

What Is a Good Resting Heart Rate by Age? Genders & Chart

Normal resting heart rate (RHR) values can range from anywhere between 60-100 beats per minute (bpm).

Normal resting heart rate (RHR) values can range from anywhere between 60-100 beats per minute (bpm). As cardiovascular fitness increases, the resting heart rate value decreases. Resting heart rate is the number of beats per minute the heart takes while a person is fully rested. It is an indicator of both fitness and general health.

The below tables provide appropriate charts for RHR as per age and sex. 

Table 1. Resting heart rate values for men

Table 1. Resting heart rate (RHR) values for men (beats per minute)

What factors affect the resting heart rate?

Several factors may affect resting heart rate:

Age: RHR can change with age, according to some studies.Gender: On average, women’s RHR tends to be 2-7 bpm higher than men’s.Air temperature: RHR can increase during hot weather, but usually not more than 10 bpm.Emotions: Strong feelings of stress, anxiety, or even happiness can raise the RHR.Body position: RHR can be 3 bpm higher when sitting versus lying down. Similarly, RHR tends to increase a bit upon standing.Medication: Prescription drugs, such as antidepressants and beta-blockers, can cause the RHR to be lower than it would without the medication.Meditation: Yoga and pranayama if done regularly can cause reduced RHR.

What does resting heart rate readings indicate?

Resting heart rate is an indicator of fitness and general health.

In adults, a lower heart rate is correlated with a higher degree of fitness and a lower incidence of cardiac events, such as heart attacks.Highly trained athletes can have an RHR as low as 40. This may be because the lower rate translates to a heart muscle that is stronger and can pump blood more efficiently. Another explanation is that with vigorous exercise, there is the release of nitrous oxide in the heart’s blood vessels, which increases the blood supply to the heart.However, a consistently higher heart rate has been associated with cardiovascular issues and premature death.A 2013 research that studied 3000 men for 16 years found that men with RHR greater than 90 were associated with triple the risk of death when compared to men with RHR below 80.An observational study conducted in Norway that looked at 20,000 participants found similar results, even when controlled for factors, such as body mass index (BMI) and life.

Is a resting heart rate of 52 bad?

Resting heart rate (RHR) is a quick way to determine how efficiently your heart is working. What is considered normal can vary greatly from person to person? Your RHR is the amount of blood your heart pumps when you’re not exercising. If you’re sitting or lying down, calm and relaxed and not sick, your heart rate should be between 60 and 100 beats per minute (bpm).

Bradycardia (may or may not be normal):

If your RHR is consistently lower than 60 bpm (even 52 bpm), you have bradycardia (a slow heart rate), which may be a sign of excellent physical fitness (often seen in professional athletes and swimmers) or maybe a sign of illness, in which case it can be accompanied by light-headedness, dizziness or chest discomfort.If your RHR is significantly lower than 60 bpm (even 52 bpm) and you don’t feel well, you should see a doctor and get electrocardiography done.

Tachycardia (may not be normal):

If your RHR is consistently above 100 bpm, you have tachycardia and should see a doctor, especially if you have other symptoms such as chest tightness, fatigue, or shortness of breath.Fast RHR (>100 bpm) can indicate various conditions. You could be dehydrated or have poor physical fitness, or it could be a sign of something more serious going on with your heart or lungs.

Checking your RHR is a noninvasive way to assess your health. Take your RHR after waking up for three consecutive mornings.

You must calculate the number of times your heart beats per minute. You can do so by counting your heartbeats for 10 seconds and multiplying the result by six.Take the sum of your three different days’ numbers. Add them up and divide them by three. This will give your RHR.If you can’t find your pulse, a digital blood pressure monitor will usually report heartbeats per minute. Read More

Internal and External Hemorrhoids: Symptoms, Treatment, Pictures & Causes

What are hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids (Piles) are blood vessels located in the smooth muscles of the walls of the rectum and anus. They are a normal part of the anatomy and are located at the junction where small arteries merge into veins. They are cushioned by smooth muscles and connective tissue and are classified by where they are located in relationship to the pectinate line, the dividing point between the upper 2/3 and lower 1/3 of the anus. This is an important anatomic distinction because of the type of cells that line hemorrhoid, and the nerves that provide sensation.

What are the internal and external hemorrhoids?

Internal hemorrhoids are located above the pectinate line and are covered with cells that are the same as those that line the rest of the intestines. External hemorrhoids arise below the line and are covered with cells that resemble skin.

What are the symptoms of hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids become an issue only when they begin to swell, causing itching, pain, and/or bleeding.

External hemorrhoids are located underneath the skin that surrounds the anus and is lower than internal hemorrhoids.

Normal hemorrhoidal tissue cannot be seen since they must first swell and become inflamed or develop a clot to cause symptoms. One can see swollen external hemorrhoids or internal prolapsed hemorrhoids exposed outside the anus but internal hemorrhoids cannot be seen because they remain inside the anus. A thrombosed hemorrhoid will appear as a lump at the anal verge, protruding from the anus, and will be dark bluish in color because of the blood clot contained inside the swollen blood vessel. Non-thrombosed hemorrhoids will appear as a rubbery lump. Often more than one swollen hemorrhoid appears at the same time.

Hemorrhoids are caused by swelling in the anal or rectal veins. This makes them susceptible to irritation.

While the presence of hemorrhoids is a reflection of the normal anatomy, most people and care professionals refer to hemorrhoids as an abnormal finding because they only present when they swell and cause problems.

Hemorrhoid swelling occurs when there is an increase in the pressure in the small vessels that make up hemorrhoids causing them to swell and engorge with blood. This causes them to increase in size leading to symptoms. Increased pressure may be caused by a variety of factors:

A low-fiber diet and smaller caliber stool cause a person to strain when having a bowel movement, increasing the pressure within the blood vessels.Pregnancy is associated with hemorrhoid swelling and is likely due to increased pressure of the enlarged uterus on the rectum and anus. In addition, hormonal changes with pregnancy may weaken the muscles that support the rectum and anus. Prolonged sitting on the toilet may increase pressure within the hemorrhoid blood vessels. Obesity, Diarrhea, both acute and chronic Colon cancer, Previous rectal surgery, Spinal cord injury and lack of erect posture. Read More

How to Get Rid of a Sinus Infection Fast: Complications

Sinuses are air-filled cavities that are present in the facial bones and drain into the nose. They are present in the forehead, cheeks, and near the eyes.

A sinus infection occurs when the sinus gets blocked and mucus gets trapped in it. This causes viruses, bacteria, or, rarely, fungi to grow easily due to the moist and stagnant environment. A sinus infection is also called acute sinusitis.

There are several ways to treat a sinus infection and relieve symptoms at home with the help of home remedies and over-the-counter medications such as nasal sprays, painkillers, and antihistamines. It can take about 7 to 10 days to get rid of a sinus infection.

9 signs and symptoms of a sinus infection

Symptoms of a sinus infection include

  • Nasal obstruction
  •  Postnasal drip (dripping of mucus from the nose into the throat causing irritation and coughing while lying down)
  • Headache
  • Facial pain
  • Cough
  • Fever 
  • Fatigue 
  • Halitosis (bad breath)
  • Pain over the upper teeth  

How is a sinus infection treated?

Medical treatment

  • Over-the-counter medications: OTC medication like paracetamol or ibuprofen can help relieve symptoms such as pain and fever.
  •  Nasaldecongestant sprays: Nasal decongestant sprays like oxymetazoline can reduce swelling and congestion, relieving the nasal obstruction. But, they should not be used for too long as long-term use of these sprays can damage the nasal mucosa. Hence, should be used after consulting with a doctor.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be prescribed by a doctor to get rid of the infection faster and prevent complications.

Supportive treatment

People may be able to treat a sinus infection at home by relieving painful symptoms and taking steps to allow the immune system to fight off the infection.

  • Humidifiers: A humidifier adds moisture to the air which reduces dryness and softens dried mucus, helping the mucus clear out easily.
  • Nasal irrigation: Nasal irrigation with saline using products like a neti pot, a small container with a spout, is used to irrigate the nose. If saline is not readily available, a mixture of one-half teaspoon of salt and one-half teaspoon of baking soda mixed with two cups of sterile water can be prepared. Nasal irrigation can flush out excess mucus, bacteria, and crusts, reducing nasal congestion.
  • Steam inhalation: Steam inhalation can moisten dried mucus and crusts, reducing nasal congestion. Excessive steam inhalation or keeping the face too close to the steamer should be avoided as it could cause dryness.
  • Rest: Getting adequate rest can help the body recover faster.  
  • Hydration: Drinking plenty of clear fluids will help you remain hydrated. Staying hydrated can also help moisten and loosen mucus and clear congestion.
  • Warm compresses: Applying a warm compress over the face can help reduce pain and nasal congestion.

What are the complications of a sinus infection?

Though most cases of acute sinusitis do not have any complications, if not treated, the following rare complications can occur

  • Chronic sinusitis: Acute sinusitis that is not treated properly can lead to chronic sinusitis with multiple flare-ups of acute infection.
  • Meningitis: Sinus infection can cause inflammation of the tissues and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
  • Osteomyelitis and cellulitis: Infection can spread to the bones (osteomyelitis) or skin (cellulitis).
  • Eye complications: The infection spreads to the eyes causing redness of the eyes, watering of the eyes, protrusion of the eyeball, decreased vision, or blindness. Read More

Health Benefits Of Pawpaw

Carica papaya is the scientific name of the orange and green fruit known more commonly as papaya. It tastes sweet and has a soft texture that many find appealing. The seeds are also edible, although they’re more bitter than the fruit itself. 

Papayas are originally from Central America. They grow best in a tropical region where there is plentiful rainfall but little long-term flooding. Freezing temperatures may damage a papaya crop.

Indigenous people in the area ate papayas and used them for medicinal purposes. In the 1500s and 1600s, Spanish and Portuguese colonizers brought the seeds to other tropical areas of the globe, including the Philippines and India.

Today, Hawaii, the Philippines, India, Ceylon, Australia, and tropical regions in Africa are the most fruitful papaya-producing regions. Smaller papaya-farming operations still exist in Central and South America.

Papaya has many different names all over the globe. In Australia, it’s called a pawpaw. In southern Asia, it’s sometimes called a kepaya, lapaya, or tapaya. Its name in French is sometimes “figueir des iles,” or fig of the islands. Some Spanish names for papaya include “melon zapote,” “fruta bomba,” or “mamona.”

You may encounter many varieties of papaya in a store, including:

Kapaho solo (also known as puna solo) Waimanolo Higgins Wilder Hortus gold Honey gold Bettina Improved peterson Sunnybank Guinea gold Coorg honeydew Washington 

Health Benefits

Protection Against Heart Disease

Papayas contain high levels of antioxidants vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Diets high in antioxidants may reduce the risk of heart disease. The antioxidants prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. When cholesterol oxidizes, it’s more likely to create blockages that lead to heart disease. 

Additionally, papaya’s high fiber content may reduce the risk of heart disease. High-fiber diets lower cholesterol levels.

Papaya has folic acid, which is essential for converting the amino acid homocysteine into less harmful amino acids. High levels of homocysteine, an amino acid primarily found in meat products, are a risk factor for heart disease. So eating papaya in your diet may lower homocysteine levels, reducing this risk factor.

Digestion and Reduced Inflammation

The papaya fruit contains two enzymes, papain and chymopapain. Both enzymes digest proteins, meaning they can help with digestion and reduce inflammation. Papain is an ingredient in some over-the-counter digestive supplements to help with minor upset stomach. 

Both papain and chymopapain also help to reduce inflammation. They may help acute pain, like those from burns or bruises, and they can help with chronic inflammatory conditions like arthritis and asthma.

Immune System

Eating foods high in vitamin C can help to boost the immune system, allowing the body to fight off bacterial and viral illnesses. Papaya has a good amount of this antioxidant, making it part of an immune-healthy diet. 

Papaya is also a good source of Vitamin A, another important vitamin for a healthy and functional immune system. 

Potentially Protects Against Prostate Cancer

Lycopene is a natural pigment found in foods that are red or orange. Tomatoes, watermelon, and papaya are good sources of lycopene. Some experts believe that eating more lycopene reduces the risk of prostate cancer, but some studies have been inconclusive.

However, in other studies, eating a diet high in lycopene along with green tea reduced the risk of prostate cancer significantly.

Nutrition

A medium-sized papaya contains more than 200% of the vitamin C you need per day, helping to reduce the risk of heart disease and boost the immune system. It’s also a good source of:

Folate Vitamin A Fiber Copper Magnesium Potassium Pantothenic Acid Read More

4 Negative Effects of Eating Too Many Grapes

Grapes are incredibly good for you, giving you a variety of different vitamins, minerals and even fiber. It is possible, however, to eat too many grapes. Always pre-portion your grapes, instead of nibbling right out of the bag. Otherwise, you might experience negative side effects. If you’re allergic to grapes, you might even have problems simply by coming into contact with them.

Weight Gain

Sure, grapes are relatively low in calories. One full cup, which is about 30 grapes, has fewer than 105 calories. The issue is, however, that grapes are easy to pop in your mouth. If you sit down with a bag of grapes and turn on the TV — before you know it — you could eat most of the bag. Suddenly, your 105-calorie snack doubles or triples in calories, eventually giving you the same number of calories you’d get from an entire meal. If you eat large portions of grapes on a regular basis without first measuring your portion size, the additional calories could cause you to gain weight.

Carb Overload

You need carbohydrates in your diet. They convert to your body’s main source of energy — glucose. Carbohydrates should make up 45 to 65 percent of all the calories you consume, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. That’s 900 to 1,300 calories from carbs or 225 to 325 grams daily, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. That 1-cup serving of grapes has more than 27 grams of carbs. If you’re snacking on grapes freely and not paying attention to your serving size, you could quickly consume more than your daily carb allotment. You’ll also throw off your balance of macronutrients, meaning that if your carb intake is high, your protein and fat intake may be lacking.

Gut Issues

You’ll get a decent dose of fiber from grapes — roughly 1.5 grams from 1 cup. That’s probably not enough to cause any disruption in your gut. If you snack on a large serving of grapes, however, you increase your fiber intake. If you don’t regularly consume a lot of fiber, you could notice an uncomfortable rumbling in your tummy after devouring a large, fiber-rich portion of grapes. Because your body isn’t used to the fiber, it becomes difficult to pass stools, which is a sign of constipation. Sometimes, extra fiber has the opposite effect, however, leaving you with diarrhea, as your system tries to expel the additional fiber.

Allergy Attack

It’s not common to have a grape allergy, although it can happen. If you’re allergic to grapes, you might get hives or red patches on your skin by touching grapes or shortly after eating them. In severe cases, you might have difficulty breathing or go into anaphylactic shock. Just because you have an allergic reaction to grapes, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re allergic to the fruit itself. You may actually be allergic to the pesticide on the grapes, or to the yeast or mold that grows on the grapes. The only way to be certain what you’re allergic to is to undergo allergen testing from your physician’s office or via a referral to a testing center. Read More

Exercise: The Top 10 Benefits of Regular Physical Activity

Exercise is defined as any movement that makes your muscles work and requires your body to burn calories.

There are many types of physical activity, including swimming, running, jogging, walking, and dancing, to name a few.

Being active has been shown to have many health benefits, both physically and mentally. It may even help you live longer.

Here are few regular exercise benefits your body and brain.

1. It can make you feel happier

Exercise has been shown to improve your mood and decrease feelings of depression, anxiety, and stress.

It produces changes in the parts of the brain that regulate stress and anxiety. It can also increase brain sensitivity for the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which relieve feelings of depression.

Additionally, exercise can increase the production of endorphins, which are known to help produce positive feelings and reduce the perception of pain.

Furthermore, exercise has been shown to reduce stress and improve symptoms of anxiety.

Interestingly, it doesn’t matter how intense your workout is. It seems that your mood can benefit from exercise no matter the intensity of the physical activity.

In fact, a study in 24 women who had been diagnosed with depression showed that exercise of any intensity significantly decreased feelings of depression.

The effects of exercise on mood are so powerful that choosing to exercise (or not) even makes a difference over short periods.

One review of 19 studies found that active people who stopped exercising regularly experienced significant increases in symptoms of depression and anxiety, even after only a few weeks.

2. It can help with weight loss

Some studies have shown that inactivity is a major factor in weight gain and obesity.

To understand the effect of exercise on weight reduction, it is important to understand the relationship between exercise and energy expenditure.

Your body spends energy in three ways:

digesting foodexercisingmaintaining body functions like your heartbeat and breathing

While dieting, a reduced calorie intake will lower your metabolic rate, which can delay weight loss. On the contrary, regular exercise has been shown to increase your metabolic rate, which can burn more calories to help you lose weight.

Additionally, studies have shown that combining aerobic exercise with resistance training can maximize fat loss and muscle mass maintenance, which is essential for keeping the weight.

Summary

Exercise is crucial to supporting a healthy metabolism and burning more calories per day. It also helps you maintain your muscle mass and weight loss.

3. It is good for your muscles and bones

Exercise plays a vital role in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones.

Activities like weightlifting can stimulate muscle building when paired with adequate protein intake.

This is because exercise helps release hormones that promote the ability of your muscles to absorb amino acids. This helps them grow and reduces their breakdown.

As people age, they tend to lose muscle mass and function, which can lead to an increased risk of injury. Practicing regular physical activity is essential to reducing muscle loss and maintaining strength as you age.

Also, exercise helps build bone density when you’re younger, in addition to helping prevent osteoporosis later in life.

Interestingly, some research suggests that high impact exercise, such as gymnastics or running, or odd impact sports, such as soccer and basketball, may help promote a higher bone density than non-impact sports like swimming and cycling.

Summary

Physical activity helps you build muscles and strong bones. It may also help prevent osteoporosis.

4. It can increase your energy levels

Exercise can be a real energy booster for many people, including those with various medical conditions.

One older study found that 6 weeks of regular exercise reduced feelings of fatigue for 36 people who had reported persistent fatigue.

Furthermore, exercise can significantly increase energy levels for people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and other serious illnesses.

In fact, exercise seems to be more effective at combating CFS than other treatments, including passive therapies like relaxation and stretching or no treatment at all.

Additionally, exercise has been shown to increase energy levels in people with other conditions like cancer.

Summary

Engaging in regular physical activity can increase your energy levels. This is true even in people with persistent fatigue and those with serious health conditions.

5. It can reduce your risk of chronic disease

Lack of regular physical activity is a primary cause of chronic disease.

Regular exercise has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, heart health, and body composition. It can also decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

In contrast, a lack of regular exercise — even in the short term — can lead to significant increases in belly fat, which may increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

That’s why regular physical activity is recommended to reduce belly fat and decrease the risk of developing these conditions. Read More

Updates On the Omicron Virus

On 26 November 2021, WHO designated the variant B.1.1.529 a variant of concern, named Omicron, on the advice of WHO’s Technical Advisory Group on Virus Evolution (TAG-VE).  This decision was based on the evidence presented to the TAG-VE that Omicron has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves, for example, on how easily it spreads or the severity of illness it causes. Here is a summary of what is currently known.  

 

Current knowledge about Omicron 

Researchers in South Africa and around the world are conducting studies to better understand many aspects of Omicron and will continue to share the findings of these studies as they become available.  

Transmissibility: It is not yet clear whether Omicron is more transmissible (e.g., more easily spread from person to person) compared to other variants, including Delta. The number of people testing positive has risen in areas of South Africa affected by this variant, but epidemiologic studies are underway to understand if it is because of Omicron or other factors.  

Severity of disease: It is not yet clear whether infection with Omicron causes more severe disease compared to infections with other variants, including Delta.  Preliminary data suggests that there are increasing rates of hospitalization in South Africa, but this may be due to increasing overall numbers of people becoming infected, rather than a result of specific infection with Omicron.  There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants.  Initial reported infections were among university students—younger individuals who tend to have more mild disease—but understanding the level of severity of the Omicron variant will take days to several weeks.  All variants of COVID-19, including the Delta variant that is dominant worldwide, can cause severe disease or death, in particular for the most vulnerable people, and thus prevention is always key. 

 

Effectiveness of prior SARS-CoV-2 infection 

Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased risk of reinfection with Omicron (ie, people who have previously had COVID-19 could become reinfected more easily with Omicron), as compared to other variants of concern, but information is limited. More information on this will become available in the coming days and weeks. 

Effectiveness of vaccines: WHO is working with technical partners to understand the potential impact of this variant on our existing countermeasures, including vaccines. Vaccines remain critical to reducing severe disease and death, including against the dominant circulating variant, Delta. Current vaccines remain effective against severe disease and death.   

Effectiveness of current tests: The widely used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants as well. Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests.  

Effectiveness of current treatments:   Corticosteroids and IL6 Receptor Blockers will still be effective for managing patients with severe COVID-19. Other treatments will be assessed to see if they are still as effective given the changes to parts of the virus in the Omicron variant.  

 

Studies underway 

At the present time, WHO is coordinating with a large number of researchers around the world to better understand Omicron. Studies currently underway or underway shortly include assessments of transmissibility, severity of infection (including symptoms), performance of vaccines and diagnostic tests, and effectiveness of treatments.    

WHO encourages countries to contribute the collection and sharing of hospitalized patient data through the WHO COVID-19 Clinical Data Platform to rapidly describe clinical characteristics and patient outcomes.  

More information will emerge in the coming days and weeks. WHO’s TAG-VE will continue to monitor and evaluate the data as it becomes available and assess how mutations in Omicron alter the behaviour of the virus.  

 

Recommended actions for countries 

As Omicron has been designated a Variant of Concern, there are several actions WHO recommends countries to undertake, including enhancing surveillance and sequencing of cases;  sharing genome sequences on publicly available databases, such as GISAID; reporting initial cases or clusters to WHO; performing field investigations and laboratory assessments to better understand if Omicron has different transmission or disease characteristics, or impacts effectiveness of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics or public health and social measures.  More detail in the announcement from 26 November.  

Countries should continue to implement the effective public health measures to reduce COVID-19 circulation overall, using a risk analysis and science-based approach. They should increase some public health and medical capacities to manage an increase in cases.  WHO is providing countries with support and guidance for both readiness and response.  

In addition, it is vitally important that inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines are urgently addressed to ensure that vulnerable groups everywhere, including health workers and older persons, receive their first and second doses, alongside equitable access to treatment and diagnostics.  

 

Recommended actions for people 

The most effective steps individuals can take to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus is to keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others; wear a well-fitting mask; open windows to improve ventilation; avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces; keep hands clean; cough or sneeze into a bent elbow or tissue; and get vaccinated when it’s their turn.  

WHO will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available, including following meetings of the TAG-VE. In addition, information will be available on WHO’s digital and social media platforms.  Read More

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