Health
Thursday, April 24, 2008
 
Studies link alcohol use to cancers

Drinking alcohol can cause cancer. Research shows that men who have two alcoholic drinks a day and women who have one alcoholic drink a day have an increased chance of developing certain cancers. The more alcohol a person consumes, the higher his or her risk of developing some kinds of cancer. The way alcohol causes cancer is not completely understood. It could be that alcohol itself causes cancer by increasing hormone levels or it may be carcinogenic because of the way it is broken down in the body, which can make cells more vulnerable to other cancer-causing compounds (carcinogens), like tobacco. Many research studies have established the relationship between alcohol use and cancer. Risks due to alcohol vary depending on the kind of cancer. The strongest associations between alcohol use and cancer are with mouth, esophageal, laryngeal, pharyngeal, breast and liver cancers. People who drink heavily and smoke cigarettes or use other kinds of tobacco are at even higher risk for most of these cancers. Although the combination of tobacco and alcohol use significantly increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer, alcohol use alone also increases the risk of developing the disease. Alcohol is also a primary cause of liver cancer. Deaths from liver cancer are higher among heavy alcohol users than among individuals who do not drink. By altering the liver's ability to metabolize some carcinogenic substances into harmless compounds or to disable certain existing carcinogens, alcohol's effects may influence not only liver cancer but other cancers as well. Many studies have found an association between alcohol use and the risk of breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed and is highest among heavy alcohol users. Several studies suggest that alcohol may cause some colorectal cancers, but the evidence is not yet conclusive. Limiting the amount of alcohol a person drinks may help prevent a number of cancers. If alcohol is consumed, men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women should have no more than one. In addition, the combined use of alcohol and tobacco greatly increases the risk of oral, laryngeal, pharyngeal and esophageal cancers. To learn more about nutrition and cancer and the American Cancer Society's programs, call 800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org. Sussex County Leadership Council is part of the American Cancer Society. The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives and diminishing suffering from cancer through research, education, advocacy and service. For information about cancer, call 24 hours day, seven days a week 1-800-ACS-2345 or log onto cancer.org.

Medicine collection a success The Delaware Nurses Association's environmental task force Nurses Healing Our Planet collected over 10 gallons of pharmaceuticals and countless inhalers, liquid medications, ointments and pet medicine at its one-day medicine take-back event held at the Newark Senior Center. All pharmaceuticals were disposed of in an environmentally safe manner. In addition, all medicine boxes, containers and plastic bags collected at this event were recycled. "The event was a huge success," says Michelle Lauer, RN, chair of the NHOP task force. "The amount of drugs collected documents the need for this type event in the community on an ongoing basis. Despite the short advertising lead time and only four hours to collect, we received over 43,000 pills." She also adds, "People want to the right thing and dispose of their unused pills in an environmentally safe manner. I'm glad we could help to facilitate this. Not only does it keep them from being flushed down the toilet and ending up in our water supplies, but getting these medications out of households is important to prevent accidental poisonings and abuse. We look forward to holding additional events." "It is unfortunate that we had to turn people away after the event ended," said Sarah Carmody, executive director of the Delaware Nurses Association. For those who were unable to attend the event, please follow these federal guidelines for disposal - place medications in a bag or container with coffee grounds/kitty litter, seal and place in the trash, or store them in a secure, locked container until the next event. Do not flush! Additional Medicine Take Back Events will be scheduled in the coming months in all three counties.

Report sick or dead wild birds The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's Mosquito Control Section is again asking the public's help in monitoring West Nile virus by reporting sick or dead wild birds that may have contracted the virus, a mosquito-borne disease of considerable concern to human health and unvaccinated horses. Mosquito Control requests that the public report only sick or dead crows, blue jays, cardinals, robins and hawks or owls, plus clusters of five or more sick or dead wild birds of any species. Specimens should appear to have been dead for less than 24 hours and not killed by other obvious causes. There is no cause for alarm or fear that uncollected specimens will transmit West Nile virus to humans or pets that might consume a sick bird or its carcass. Dead birds can be left to decompose in place, or they can be buried or bagged and disposed of in the garbage. When handling any dead bird, you should avoid direct skin contact by wearing gloves or using a shovel to dispose of the carcass. Sick or dead birds can be reported to the Mosquito Control Section between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, by calling 302-422-1512 in Sussex County (Milford office). Calls made after business hours or during weekends or holidays can be recorded. Callers should give their name, phone number, address and a brief message about the finding. However, the public should be aware that some calls left more than 24 hours before Mosquito Control can review them (usually between Friday evening and Sunday morning) usually result in the bird becoming too deteriorated for virus testing.

Golf tournament planned The fourth annual Wellness Community Golf Tournament will be held on Monday, June 9 at Kings Creek Country Club in Rehoboth Beach. Enjoy prizes, a continental breakfast and barbeque luncheon celebration. Golfers may register to play for $125 per person, including green fees and cart. The event begins at 7:30 a.m. with registration followed by a shot gun start at 9 a.m. There will be guaranteed prizes awarded for the longest drive, closest to pin and low score. The tournament closes with the first 100 paid registrants. The golf tournament helps raise public awareness about cancer. To be a sponsor or donate items for the raffle, contact Marcia Esposito at 302-645-9150 or mesposito@wellnessdelaware.org. For more information, visit www.wellnessdelaware.org.

Alzheimer's offers courses The Alzheimer's Association Delaware Valley Chapter is offering professional training programs at the Georgetown office. These programs include CEU credit for social workers, nurses and nursing home administrators. Certificates of completion are also available. Courses include "About Dementia" on Tuesday, May 6 from 9 a.m. to noon (three credits); "Making Connections" on Tuesday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to noon (two credits); and "Understanding Wandering" on Friday, May 23 from 10 a.m. to noon (two credits). The cost of each session including CEU credit is $49 or a certificate of completion is $29 per registrant. Pre-registration is required by e-mailing Jamie Magee at Jamie.magee@alz.org or by calling 302-854-9788.

Stroke support group Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will offer free monthly Stroke Support Group meetings designed for individuals who have survived a stroke and their families and caregivers. Meetings are held the third Thursday of each month at Nanticoke Cancer Care Center, from 1:30 - 3:30 p.m. The meetings will consist of guest speakers and breakaway sessions, in which caregivers and survivors will meet in two groups to discuss concerns, provide support and networking. Refreshments will be provided. Sheila Brant and Joan Burditt, occupational therapists at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital, will facilitate the support group meetings. Pre-registration not required. For more information, call 629-6611, ext. 5121.

Depression support group The Mental health Association in Delaware will be sponsoring a Depression Support Group in Laurel on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. The MHA encourages anyone dealing with a depressive disorder to attend. Register in advance by calling 1-800-287-6423. Peer support groups sponsored by Mental Health Association of Delaware are not intended to replace professional mental health treatment. MHA does not publish support group locations; locations are provided with registration.