Well, That’s a Mouthful

Ah, the dentist. Just the sound of the word “dentist” is enough to make you cringe because you remember that time your gums were being pricked at with a pointy apparatus, and your lips were stretched by a twofold. Perhaps such an experience made you swear you would never return to that maleficent office; however, you visited the dentist many times after that experience anyways. Even though some visits to the dental clinic may be frustrating and painful, they are still helping you achieve a greater health status than before. Like machines, humans can have glitches and dentists could be considered potential engineers who could masterfully fix those maxillofacial “glitches” you may have. Dentists are huge contributors to ones physiological and aesthetic image. Likewise, maintaining the oral cavity is essential since its presentation mirrors that of the entire body; poor oral hygiene could place the body at a higher risk of obtaining serious infectious diseases.

Throughout the years, researchers in clinical dental studies have discovered how oral health and other physiological systems interconnect with one another. As children, we were constantly pushed to brush our teeth and floss daily. Such a routine should have been instilled in our daily routines throughout the years; however, some people may not take proper care of their teeth. Improper care for ones teeth could result in periodontitis, gingivitis, or lead to harmful internal infections. Recently, researchers have found that inadequate oral hygiene could be associated with risk of gastric cancer. Thus, regular checkups at the dentist allow one to keep their health in check.

As for aesthetics, dentists allow one’s self esteem to increase if the patient is uncomfortable with his or her hygiene. Likewise, dentists would provide proper alignment to individuals’ teeth as well as whiten them, or control and treat oral infections. Dental aesthetics play a huge role in developing individuals, especially in multifarious cities like New York. Individuals are constantly encountering one another, going to meetings or social events. In other words, that “dreadful” visit to the dental office may give you a healthier and brighter smile, one that would stand out from the crowd of people who were too afraid to step foot into that office.

In summation, dentists are glorified mechanics who mend ones teeth in order to provide both proper oral health and esthetic presentation. Any signs of oral health could be a result of improper care for the oral cavity; however, it could also mean one may be suffering from another internal disease. Maintaining orderly and efficient care for the mouth is one of the many keys to living a healthy lifestyle. Now floss away!

Written By: Danielle Golder

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A Scope for a Life

People usually frown upon the idea of receiving a colonoscopy. They are only concerned about the unpleasant preparation that needs to be consumed in order to ensure maximum accuracy during the procedure. What they are unaware of are the inconceivable health benefits that come by undergoing just one colonoscopy procedure. The masses are not aware that roughly 140,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer and about 50,000 of those diagnosed will die because they did not receive prior screening. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and woman combined in the United States. Colon cancer begins with a small colonic polyp, which is a type of abnormal growth that is found on the inner walls of the colon. Polyps are harmless at first but eventually turn into carcinomas, cancers of epithelial tissue, if not removed.

Colon cancer is a very slow growing cancer, which is the reason why it can be easily prevented. The guidelines set by the “U.S. Preventive Services Task Force”(USPSTF) state that a person, with no family history of colon cancer, personal history of cancer of the colon, rectum, ovary, endometrium, or breast, or history of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, should be screened at the age of 50; however, there is a strong possibility that the age minimum will be dropped to 45 or even 40 because of a recent increase in cases of colon cancer found in people between the ages of 40 and 50. People tend to only visit a doctor after they have experienced certain symptoms for “x” amount of time. Unfortunately, early stages of colon cancer do not exhibit any symptoms, so it is important to get checked if any of the following symptoms persist: Blood in the stool, unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, or unexplained fatigue.

It is unfortunate that so many people have to suffer and die as a result of this condition because a simple colonoscopy procedure can prevent one from developing this aggressive illness! The procedure alone takes approximately 10 minutes and is normally done under a carefully administered dosage of propofol, which is significantly safer than using general anesthesia. Typically performed by a gastroenterologist, a scope with a camera at the end is inserted through the rectum and into the colon. The gastroenterologist searches for polyps so that he may remove them using an instrument built into the scope that is operated by his assistant. Depending on how many polyps are found, the doctor would recommend the patient to return for a repeat colonoscopy anywhere between 1-5 years. If only people focused more on the pros as opposed to the cons that come with getting a colonoscopy, we could eventually bring down the colon cancer death rate… to zero.

Written By: Daniel Shoykhet

Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Classification

Breast cancer is the second most occurring cancer for women in the United States. It is estimated that there are 230,000 new cases arising in American women annually. It also occurs in men, but at a much lower rate of 2,300 annually.

Breast cancer is a form of carcinoma, cancer that originates from epithelial cells. The type of breast cancer is determined through a series of tests on breast tissue by a pathologist, a physician specialized in examining tissues in order to diagnose disease and recommend treatment. The pathologist examines the tissue through a microscope and identifies if cancer is indeed present and whether it is “in situ”, meaning non-invasive, or if it is invasive. Non-invasive cancers stay within their origin tissue, and have not yet spread to other normal tissue but invasive cancers have spread out to once noncancerous cells. For invasive cancers, the cancer is graded 1 to 3, through a comparison of the patient’s breast tissue with normal healthy tissue. The lower the grade, the less likely the patient has a cancer that will spread further. The higher the grade, the faster growing the cancer is, and therefore the larger the probability of spreading.  

Additionally, breast cancer cells can have estrogen receptors (ER+), progesterone receptors (PR+), both receptors or neither receptors. Two-thirds of breast cancer types have at least one of these hormone receptor types. The receptors allow cancer cells to obtain and utilize their respective hormones to fuel their development. Furthermore, one in five of breast cancers have too much HER2/neu, a protein that fosters cell growth. HER2/neu positive cancers are more invasive than other types. The amount of HE2/neu is usually identified through immunohistochemistry, an antibody test that changes cell color in response to an overabundance of HE2/neu, or a fluorescent in situ hybridization test (FISH) that uses fluorescent pieces of DNA to bind to the HER2/neu gene in cancer cells.  A triple negative cancer doesn’t have estrogen or progesterone hormone receptors and doesn’t have too much HER2/neu. Conversely, a triple-positive cancer is ER+, PR+ and HER2+.

A PAM50 test, working through identification of patterns of molecular features, is another classification method and divides breast cancer into 4 types. These are Luminal A, Luminal B, HER2 type and basal type. Luminal A/B cancers are ER+ cancers, but A type cancers are low grade, slow growth. B type cancers are high grade, fast growth.  HER2 type cancers are high grade and result from excessive copies of the HER2 gene in cells. Basal type cancers are triple negative type cancers, high grade, and require different treatment than the other types.

The extent the cancer has spread through the body can further be identified through more tests such as a chest x-ray, CT scan, bone scan, MRI, ultrasound and or PET scan. These tests allow the determination of the “stage” of the cancer in the body and are not usually used for early stage cancers. The most common system for “staging” used is the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) TNM system. T stands for primary tumor and is ranked zero to four, indicating the tumor size and spread to chest or skin. N stands for nearby lymph nodes and is ranked zero to 3, indicating if nearby lymph nodes have cancer and how many are cancerous. M stands for metastasis and is ranked 0 or 1, with 1 indicating the cancer has reached distant organs from the source. Combinations of the TNM ratings determine the stage of the cancer, from Stage I to Stage IV, with non-invasive cancers at Stage 0. Larger numbers for the TNM system indicate greater size, spread and severity.

Continuing research into cancer will augment our understanding of the mechanics of breast cancer and how to treat it. The fast pace of advancement in the medical field means that some of the current methods for diagnosing breast cancer may even become obsolete or new technologies may be invented. As such, the way breast cancer is diagnosed and classified is “subject to change”.

Written By: Kevin Yiu

Sources:
  1. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/breast-cancer/basics/definition/con-20029275
  2. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/what-is-breast-cancer.htm

 

Step 1: Teach

I was swept away in the conversation about life choices, movies, and culture. As I walked out of the room, I was shocked to find out that almost an hour had passed by already. I was at New York Methodist Hospital volunteering as a part of the Congestive Heart Failure Volunteer Intervention Program (CHF-VIP).

This program trains volunteers to teach heart failure (CHF) patients about healthier life choices and prevent re-hospitalization. We visited the patients in the hospital to give them “teachbacks.” During the teachbacks, we covered diet changes, reminders to take prescribed medicine, and ways to survey if symptoms were worsening. Then, if given permission, we gave callbacks every two weeks for six weeks after the patient’s discharge. In the callbacks, we answered patient’s questions, and reminded them about what we talked about in the teachback. We also encouraged them to make an appointment with a cardiologist within two weeks after discharge.

Often times, I would finish these teachbacks in 10 to 15 minutes. I would go in and follow the lesson I had practiced many times teaching, wait for any questions and then leave the room. However, during one of my shifts I ended up speaking to the patient for almost an hour regarding his past failures to change his lifestyle for his health. As I continued talking to him, he seemed encouraged, even motivated to learn more and change. He even quoted from a movie, “We all die, but it’s about how we die.” I was inspired by his response to take these teachbacks as opportunities to look into the window of the patient’s life. I took more time to ask the patient questions and empathize his or her situation. I found the time spent much more rewarding, and experiences confirmed my hopes of becoming a doctor someday.

During a lecture I attended as a part of NYM’s Summer College Intensive Program, an E.D. doctor wisely told us, “All doctors are teachers. In order to be a good doctor, you must be able to teach your patients about the disease, symptoms, and possible solutions.” I did not really see the truth behind her words until I saw how my teachbacks and callbacks affected patients. NYM’s CHF-VIP has taught me and helped me develop one of the most important steps in becoming a good physician: to teach.animated-light-bulb-gif-30

 

Written By: Sharon Pang

A Refresher on Healthcare in the 2016 Presidential Election

Amidst the ubiquitous poll numbers and televised debates that draw widespread attention to the 2016 presidential candidates, lies the issue of healthcare. With a variety of stances present in the field, it’s important to consider the potential plans that will shape the healthcare system in the years to come. Whether attune to or averse to the political landscape of the country, the policies shaped by the next commander-in-chief will impact us all. Here is a summary of the vision current front-runner candidates have for healthcare in America.

Within the Democratic party, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have quite the difference in their philosophy on the fate of the current Affordable Care Act. Secretary Clinton believes in keeping the majority of the Act [1]. Among her proposed policies include initiatives to put a limit to out-of-pocket drug costs [ibid]. Senator Sanders, on the other hand, has proposed a single-payer healthcare system that would essentially be a Medicaid-for-all system [2], though he too is seeking to address high prescription drug costs. The Republican group of candidates, on the other hand, has expressed a pronounced desire to get rid of the Affordable Care Act. Donald Trump believes in open competition and letting individuals shop for insurance, though in 2000 he supported universal healthcare [3]. Senator Cruz in 2013 led a government shutdown in an effort to defund the Affordable Care [ibid], and seeks to repeal the entire Act. Senator Rubio has opposed the Act, saying it stifles entrepreneurship [ibid].

On the subject of vaccines, there is more concurrence. Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders favor vaccinations [3], saying they are supported by science and electing not to vaccinate is dangerous, respectively [3]. Donald Trump says he’s for vaccines, but believes in “smaller quantities to avoid autism” [ibid]. Senators Cruz and Rubio believe in vaccinations [ibid].

In light of global health issues, the candidates have differing levels of commitment. In 2014, to combat Ebola Secretary Clinton proposed putting resources into Africa, and in 2007 pledged to support $50 billion towards AIDs relief in the US and around the world [3]. Senator Rubio said that only the US could combat Ebola, and that the World Health Organization could not [ibid].

In deciding which candidate is most fit to be the next leader of our country, we must ask what we believe to be the ideal and pragmatic health system ourselves. Do you believe in a centralized or decentralized system? A president that will place global health issues high on the priority list? These are all questions to consider the next time you hear from the 2017 presidential hopefuls.

American Election
American election campaign fight as Republican Versus Democrat represented by two boxing gloves with the elephant and donkey symbol stitched fighting for the vote of the United states citizens for an election win.

Written By: Prima Manandhar-Sasaki

Sources:
  1. “Presidential candidates on healthcare.” New York Times. n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2016
  2. “2016 presidential candidates on healthcare.” Ballotpedia. n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2016.
  3. “Health Care.” On the Issues. n.d. Web 16 Feb. 2016

I Challenge You.

Life is hard. It’s not easy when you are working towards your dream and you put everything you had in it, and it just doesn’t work out. It can be extremely disappointing when you tried your best in your classes, but it just was not good enough. You’re knocked down, and it seems like staying down isn’t a bad alternative. You begin to believe that not doing your best is ok because this way you can always have the excuse, “I obviously could have done it if I did my best”. I know because this was how I felt not too long ago. A lackadaisical lifestyle is a disease. It ruses you into believing that it’s ok for you not to start your essay, that’s due in a week, now. You can just start it the day before and get a mediocre grade. This lifestyle is the reason people quit their dream of becoming a doctor. It is the reason I almost I gave up. I saw the requirements for medical school and the first thing I felt was fear. People are afraid to give it everything they have and find out that it’s too hard; that they just can’t do it. So they give up. I stopped showing up to my classes, I stopped caring about my homework. Unfortunately, there are consequences that come with throwing in the towel. The consequences are that you’ll never know if what you had envisioned for yourself is possible. You’ll live everyday of your life wondering if you made the right decision by picking the less challenging career. Regret ate away at me because I realized the only reason I even thought of quitting was because things got hard.

wallpaper-if-it-doesnt-challenge-you-it-doesnt-change-you-brushstrokes-blue (1)A famous motivational speaker once said, “The harder the battle, the sweeter the victory”, meaning that the time and effort you spend working towards your goal will, in the long run, have a much more satisfying feeling, as opposed to giving in to your short term pleasures. If you truly care about people and wish to do something in your life that would better humanity, then go the extra mile. Use your desire to help those that are in need to get you through biology, chemistry, physics, etc. There will always be someone in your life putting you down. They will tell you, “It’s too hard, you can’t do it, your GPA isn’t high enough, do something else”, but you cannot give in. People who can’t do something themselves will tell you you can’t do it either. So in spite of the fact that your GPA isn’t high enough, in spite of the fact you have people telling you, left and right, you don’t have what it takes, I ask that you don’t lose sight of your ambitions.

I ask that you never give up; no matter how bad things may seem. I challenge you to stand back up every single time life knocks you down and fight! Fight for your dreams with every single fiber in your body screaming, “I CAN DO IT!” I challenge you to go against the odds, against the naysayers, against your former self! Show everyone that impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men. Be prepared to dedicate all of your time to mastering your craft. Your goal is to reach the ultimate skill level.  While other people sleep, you are working. While other people eat, you are working. You are aiming to achieve unreasonable results, and in order to do that you must become an unreasonable person. You will endure the long hours of studying and drudgery because they are not as painful as knowing that you let your dreams slip away from you. It will not be easy. If it were easy, everybody would do it. You are not everybody. I challenge you.

Written by: Daniel Shoykhet

Be Thankful This Year

Sometimes it’s hard to be grateful…especially when you’re battling fifty people to get on the 6 train or not sure if you’ll ever see the end of the organic chemistry textbook. But science and common sense tell us that gratitude is the best way to handle all the stress that we get (Brooks 2). A research article published in the journal Cerebral Cortex explains that “gratitude stimulates the hypothalamus (a key part of the brain that regulates stress) and the ventral tegmental area (part of our “reward circuitry” that produces the sensation of pleasure)” (Brooks 2). I mean, when you talk to friend who’s happy to be where he or she is in life, you can tell that he or she is a lot more equipped against all the challenges life throws at us.

Growing up, a lot of people complimented my joyful perspective on the world. I didn’t think twice about it; it was just second nature for me. However, as I started college and the struggles of pre-med track, I gradually began to see that side of me fade. I often found myself complaining more than smiling. I isolated myself to better focus on my studies. Although I was spending more time studying, I was often distracted or too tired. During this past month, I came across Brooks’ article, Choose to Be Grateful. It Will Make You Happier, in the NY Times. I started to reflect on how I was going through my days this semester. My motivation levels were at an all-time low because I had lost an important habit of being thankful and glad. This Thanksgiving break, I spent time at home with my family. I intentionally thought about things that I’m grateful for: education, close friends, family members, my boyfriend, even the ability to comprehend and memorize…Coming back from this break and realization, I find myself rested and invigorated to finish my semester well!

It might be hard to see things to be grateful for amidst all the schoolwork and extracurricular activities, but what about why you decided to stick with pre-med in the first place? Be grateful for all the awesome science-y things you learn everyday and how cool the human body is! Give thanks for your support system during all of this pressure! Be thankful about your passion and perseverance to help others! Biochemistry might be a different language right now, but don’t forget why you’re studying it. The hardest aspect of gratitude is doing it when you don’t feel like it. But that’s when we need it the most. So the next time you’re ready to give up on memorizing the steps of the Citric Acid Cycle, take a breather and think about what you’re grateful for.

Written by: Sharon Pang

Getting the Jitters?

If you’re reading this, then you’re probably part of the 54 percent of adults who drink coffee in the U.S. Why do we drink coffee? For most of us it is out of necessity to keep us awake and alert. We drink it on a daily basis and splurge an endless amount of money each year on this beverage. It’s only suitable for us to know what’s in coffee and how it affects us.

Caffeine, as we all know, is the prime ingredient of coffee. It assumes the role of a stimulant and provides a boost in alertness. Caffeine has demonstrated its efficacy whenever we wake up from little sleep, work overnight shifts, or suffer from our post-lunch laziness. There are studies that have shown that coffee does in fact improve performance when it comes to doing tedious, repetitive tasks. Caution must be taken however that too much caffeine can result in a decrease in performance.

In terms of sleep, extra care should be taken if you’re going to consume caffeine. Generally, caffeine can interfere with sleep if drank by occasional drinkers, whose bodies are not accustomed to breaking down caffeine without much expenditure of energy. The stimulant might prove to be a bit too much in this population and can easily keep this group awake. Of course, for regular coffee drinkers, the effects are not as pronounced as their bodies have adapted to absorbing caffeine. No matter how frequent of a drinker you are, some ground rules should be followed for the sake of your sleeping patterns. Firstly, everyone has their limits on how much caffeine they can tolerate without overstimulation taking place. Know your limit and try not to surpass it. Second. It is not a good idea to drink coffee in the evening since you run the risk of going to sleep right around the time the caffeine kicks in.

Despite the negative portrayals of caffeine in regards to our dependence on it,  there are some bright sides to it. Regular coffee drinking can slow down age-related cognitive decline. Along with that, coffee has been shown to ward off the risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease by as much as 20 percent. The same correlations apply between the risk of getting Parkinson’s Disease and intake of caffeine consumption. And yes, there are other possible components of caffeine that give it a neuroprotective, anti-oxidative, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Does this mean it is completely fine to ignore the criticisms of caffeine consumption and go on enjoying that Starbucks latte? Of course not. Moderation is key to anything we do and what benefits we obtain from it. Drinking coffee at responsible intervals and amounts won’t pose significant harm to your body, and at the same time, abstaining from caffeinated beverages altogether is perfectly fine too.

Written by: Ubayed Muhith

HIV, the End is Near

_79427583_c0200994-hiv,_artwork-spl.jpgAfter four years of secretly battling the devastating virus known as HIV, Charlie Sheen has publicly admitted that he is infected with the often fatal disease. The recent public shock brings back daunting memories of a virus that until recent years was subject of controversy. Flash forward to today, in 2015, as possible cures are not out of reach.

HIV, the human immunodeficiency virus is unlike most other viruses the body can fight off. Instead, the virus lives on our body for the remainder of life targeting T cells which are critical in help fighting illnesses as simple as the flu or cold. Overtime, as the immune system is damaged by the virus, HIV becomes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). However, with medication, HIV can be prevented from becoming AIDS. One can become infected with HIV through direct contact with bodily fluids – possibly through sexual contact with an infected person, the sharing of syringes or other exchanges of bodily fluid.

Charlie Sheen isn’t the only public figure who is known to have been diagnosed with the disease. Arthur Ashe, world-renowned tennis player of the 90’s was also diagnosed with the disease after receiving a blood transfusion from a contaminated needle, unfortunately passing shortly after his diagnosis. However, not all diagnoses of HIV result in death or AIDS; Magic Johnson has been living with HIV for 20+ years.

From the past 30 years we have learned a lot about the virus, and stigmas of the disease are no longer valid. According to Global Citizen, the stigma of HIV being a “gay disease” for example, is inaccurate. During the 70’s and 80’s, HIV largely affected men who were gay, however, medical advances found no direct link between homosexuality and the likeliness of acquiring this disease. Additionally, over the years, diagnoses like that of Arthur Ashe and Magic Johnson, a former basketball player, made the global community realize it is more than just a “gay disease”.

Furthermore, the disease is no longer the “death sentence” it was years ago. Medical advancements have found preventative measures one can take to lower the risk of transmission and treatment that stabilizes and someone who has HIV. Efforts to raise awareness for the disease have been impressive in recent years. Both President George Bush and Barack Obama expressed their support for HIV/AIDS awareness and both have taken measures towards taking the first steps in treatment and cure research.

In recent years, conversations about an HIV cure are is becoming reality. Just in 2013, a toddler born with the disease was treated with an antiviral drug that successfully eradicated the disease from the baby who was given the drug just thirty hours after birth according to a report by CNN.  

According to a CBS report, the major challenge of eradicating the disease is finding a cure that, long after treatment, reduces the amount of HIV to an untraceable level. While this treatment still needs work, a relatively new method of curing called “shock” given to the infected individual that “shocks” the virus. In a sense, it removes the virus from the body through shock therapy.

As a global community, we have come a long way towards understanding the disease and finally having a hopeful future for those with the virus.

stop-hiv-3x2

Written by: Amina Rana

Social Media Etiquette

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Once students start applying for graduate school, they begin to worry about the content they have shared over social media during their undergraduate career. However, as a freshman with extremely high hopes of getting into medical school, I was advised to embellish a “filter” for my Facebook.

The first question that came to mind when I was warned about this issue was, “should I just delete my Facebook to begin with?” However, I was worried about how I would communicate with my study groups, how to stay up-to-date with the various clubs and how to share necessary data with my classmates. Being involved in studies and the student community are imperative in a student’s application.

However, the pros of having a facebook do not necessarily outweigh the cons. A single inappropriate post and/or picture can negatively alter your application, no matter how hard you worked on making it pristine. So, what is it exactly that you should stay away from doing? Imagine someone, such as a family member, an employer, or even an admissions representative scrolling through your Facebook page: what wouldn’t you want them seeing? Those are the specific things that you should refrain from sharing, posts that would put you in a bad light. It is completely up to you about the image you wish to portray, just remember, everything on social media is open for judgment!

Also be wary of pictures and posts others might tag you in! Imagine this. You spend the weekend at home, studying diligently for the exam that you’ll be taking on Monday. However, your best friend calls, begging you to log onto Facebook and look at a link she sent you. After logging on, you notice that your old friend posted a group picture of you and a few friends from high school at a place you just would not want the admissions committee to see. You have been tagged in this picture for two days now, and you didn’t know about it because you were avoiding all distractions. At this point, anyone could have seen it already! For reasons such as these, you should make sure to never forget to control who can tag you in posts and whether they can be uploaded to your page without your approval.

With this advice stored somewhere in the dusty files of your brain, you should remember to always be cautious with your social media posts, not only on Facebook! They should be filled with meaning, just as your books are with notes.  Even the most responsible of students may slip up on social media networks, however, with just a bit of caution and insight, you too can tackle the graduate school application process without worrying of being denied over something as benign as a single Facebook post!

Make sure to post prudently, and good luck to all! 9i4e7ebkT

Written by: Angelica Rozenfeld