The Markey Cancer Center joined a national movement encouraging people to get HPV vaccines.

Get the facts about the HPV vaccine

On Wednesday, the UK Markey Cancer Center, along with 68 of the nation’s top cancer centers, issued a statement urging young people in the U.S. to get a vaccination against the human papillomavirus, or HPV.

HPV, which is sexually transmitted, is responsible for about 27,000 new cancer cases in the U.S. each year, causing nearly all cervical and anal cancers and also the majority of throat and vaginal cancers, too.

Luckily, the HPV vaccine offers substantial protection against this threat. Unfortunately, not enough people are taking advantage of this rare opportunity to prevent many types of cancer.

In Kentucky, only about 37 percent of girls and 13 percent of boys complete the vaccination schedule, leaving a significant portion of the population at risk. That’s why Markey and others are calling upon the physicians, parents and young adults to learn more about the benefit of receiving the HPV vaccine.

“Although we have made progress in the past several years, Kentucky continues to rank first in the nation for both cancer incidence and mortality,” said Dr. Mark Evers, director of the UK Markey Cancer Center. “We are still in the top 10 nationally for cervical cancer deaths, and increasing the HPV vaccination rates will significantly lower this grim statistic.”

The HPV vaccine offers substantial protection against various cancers but experts say not enough people are taking advantage of it.

Understanding the benefits of the HPV vaccine might convince you that it’s right for you or someone you know.

The HPV vaccine protects against more than cervical cancer.

The vaccine actually protects against several types of cancer. It does so by targeting certain strains of HPV. These infections are spread through sexual contact. They can cause genital warts. But most cause no symptoms and go away without treatment.

Some HPV infections may linger for years in your body. These viruses may damage cells, eventually causing cancer. The HPV vaccine prevents those strains responsible for the majority of cervical cancers. It may also prevent HPV infections that lead to cancers of the throat, anus, penis and vagina.

The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys, girls, young men and young women.

In 2006, health experts recommended the HPV vaccine for females ages 9 to 26. But its potential to prevent other cancers besides that of the cervix made it appropriate for boys and young men, too. Doctors now encourage males ages 9 to 26 to also receive the vaccine.

Two types of HPV vaccine are available. They are Gardasil and Cervarix. Gardasil is approved for use in both sexes. Cervarix is only for girls and young women. Ideally, three doses of either vaccine are given over a 6-month period at ages 11 or 12 before any sexual activity.

The HPV vaccine is effective.

The HPV vaccine may not protect against all HPV infections that may promote cancer. But it can substantially lower the risk. In a recent study, researchers compared the HPV history of more than 4,000 women ages 14 to 59 over two 4-year periods. Those timeframes included 2003 to 2006—before the HPV vaccine became available—and 2007 to 2010—after it was in use. They found that the vaccine cut in half the number of HPV infections in girls ages 14 to 19.

The HPV vaccine is safe.

Past research including nearly 60,000 participants has confirmed the vaccine’s safety. But like all vaccines, side effects are possible. Most are minor. They may include pain and redness at the injection site, fever, dizziness or nausea. Some people have fainted after receiving the shot. In rare cases, blood clots and Guillain-Barré syndrome — a disorder that weakens muscles — have been reported.

Women who receive the HPV vaccine should still schedule regular Pap tests.

Pap tests detect abnormal cells in the cervix. They alert your doctor to potential cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine may prevent future HPV infections, but it doesn’t treat pre-existing ones. It also doesn’t prevent all types of cervical cancer. For these reasons, women should still schedule regular Pap tests.


Next steps:

  • If you or someone you love is interested in receiving the HPV vaccine, schedule an appointment with the Markey Cancer Center online or at 859-323-5553.
  • Read a blog by Dr. Hatim Omar, chief of the Adolescent Medicine at UK HealthCare, about the importance of including the HPV vaccine in all young adults’ health care plans.
  • Learn more about the Gynecologic Oncology Team at the Markey Cancer Center
Tips for shoveling snow safely

Think about your heart before you shovel

The combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion may increase the risk of a heart attack during snow shoveling.

To help keep you safe and minimize risk, we recommend the following precautions:

  • Individuals over the age of 55, or those who are relatively inactive, should be especially careful.
  • If you have heart trouble, do not shovel without a doctor’s permission.
  • Do not shovel after eating or while smoking.
  • Pace yourself. Be sure to stretch out and warm up just like you would before any exercise.
  • Push the snow as you shovel, do not pick up too much at once. Lift with your legs bent, not your back.
  • Do not work to the point of exhaustion. If you run out of breath, take a break.

Also, it’s important to know the warnings signs of heart attack. Often people affected aren’t sure what’s wrong and wait too long before getting help. If you experience any of the warning signs below, please contact emergency medical services immediately.

  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
  • Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
  • Like men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

 

UK HealthCare's tips for snow day safety

Tips for a fun, safe snow day

Snow days are a fun time for kids, but winter weather can be dangerous if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Here are some tips to make sure your child has an enjoyable day in the snow.

General safety

  • Use the buddy system. Kids should play in the snow with one or more friends, and an adult should supervise children under the age of 8.
  • Make sure kids take frequent breaks inside and that they’re staying well hydrated. Even in cold weather, it’s important to drink water after exercise and play.
  • Check kids periodically to make sure clothing and shoes are warm and dry. Wet clothing should be removed immediately.

Bundle up

  • Before kids head outside, dress them in layers. If they get too warm, they can remove one layer at a time.
  • Use mittens instead of gloves.
  • Make sure children always wear a hat and have their ears covered to prevent frostbite.
  • When kids return inside, make sure to remove all wet clothing immediately.

Sledding safely

  • Kids should wear a fitted helmet while sledding. Ski and hockey helmets provide more protection than bike helmets.
  • Ensure handles on the sled are secure before use.
  • Children should never sled on or near roads.
  • Always sit up or kneel on a sled. This helps prevent head and neck injuries.

Snow forts

  • Children should not play in snow forts or tunnels. They can collapse and cause suffocation.
  • Ensure kids stay away from snow banks near roadways. Snowplow drivers may not see children.
Snow day safety tips from UK HealthCare

Source: Safe Kids Fayette County

How to talk to your kids about terrorism

Helping kids cope with violence, terrorism

Whether it is the local evening news or a 24-hour cable news channel, images of violence and terrorism inundate our homes. These scenes can be disturbing and stressful, especially for children. It is important to manage distress and take appropriate steps in helping your children and adolescents following terrorist attacks.

Take advantage of the teachable moment by starting a dialogue about the event. 

Questions such as:  “What do you think about what you just watched on TV?” “Do you have questions about terrorism?” or “What are kids at school saying about terrorist attacks?” create the space for conversation about what the event means to the child. Avoidance of the topic may increase anxiety and send the message that the event is too horrible to talk about. As the conversation unfolds, listen carefully for what the child knows, what they believe to be true and where they are getting their information.

Correct any misconceptions or inaccurate information.

Age and stage of development can greatly impact the way situations are perceived. Children may unduly personalize the situation, or have an exaggerated sense of danger.

Tailor the amount of media exposure to the needs of the child.

A good rule of thumb is no child under age six needs to be exposed to media accounts of terrorist events. The replaying of graphic images and scenes of distress are confusing to young children who do not have the ability to keep events in temporal sequence and who may feel the event is ongoing. Even if young children do not appear to be listening, they may pick up on the sense of chaos and danger created by adult conversations and repeated media accounts. Parents should limit the amount of exposure in young children and for those who are distressed by the event.

Model good coping. 

Children take their cues on how to respond to events based on the lessons learned from their caregivers. If parents are worried, talking a lot about the event, highly anxious or over-reactive, children will mimic this behavior. It is normal and expected to have a response to tragedy, but an expression of worry or anxiety should be accompanied by solution focused language. This might include describing ways adults in the child’s life take action to keep them safe, pointing out the quick response of law enforcement, and examples of the benevolence of strangers. This sends the message to the child that while bad things happen, there are good people in this world and adults that are there to keep them safe.

Know when to refer.

If children have symptoms of anxiety, worry, sleep disturbance, sadness or preoccupation with the event that lasts beyond two weeks, a referral for a trauma assessment at a community mental health center, a faith-based organization or the UK Center on Trauma and Children is recommended.

Ginny Sprang

 

Ginny Sprang, Ph.D., is the executive director of the UK Center on Trauma and Children

Gluten intolerance requires a significant change in your diet, but doing research and asking questions can help you stay gluten-free while dining out.

11 diabetes-friendly cooking tips

November is American Diabetes Month and a great time to learn more about the disease that affects more than 500,000 Kentuckians.

If you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, a healthy diet is crucial in properly managing your symptoms. Eating well can help you stay at a desirable weight, control your blood pressure, and prevent heart disease and stroke.

Here are 11 cooking tips for healthy diabetes management:

  1. Use nonstick cooking spray instead of oil, shortening, or butter.
  2. If you do use oil, use olive, corn, peanut, sunflower, safflower, vegetable or flaxseed oil.
  3. Season foods, like meats and steamed vegetables with herbs and spices (like pepper, cinnamon, and oregano), vinegar, lemon juice or salsa instead of salt, butter or sugary sauces.
  4. Use low- or no-sugar jams instead of butter or margarine on breads.
  5. Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Try to get at least two servings a week of omega-3 rich foods, like salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, rainbow trout and albacore tuna. Walnuts, flaxseed and soy products are other omega-3 rich foods that can be added to a healthy diet.
  6. Eat whole-grain, high-fiber cereals or oatmeal with skim or 1-percent milk.
  7. Use low-fat or fat-free dairy products like milk, yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream in place of full-fat versions.
  8. Drink 100 percent fruit juice that has no added sugar and limit your serving size.
  9. Trim excess fat off meats and eat chicken or turkey without the skin.
  10. Always buy lean cuts of meat and choose a healthy cooking method, like broiling, roasting, stir-frying or grilling.
  11. Buy whole-grain breads and cereals instead of processed, refined grains like white flour.

We’ve also compiled a list of 41 diabetes-friendly recipes. Check it out!

Support the American Diabetes Association

UK HealthCare Chief Administrative Officer Ann Smith and 10 other Lexington-area community members are campaigning to raise funds for the American Diabetes Association’s Kiss a Pig event.

Discovered in 1921, insulin was originally derived from the pancreas of pigs and is a vital tool in the treatment and care of people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. The American Diabetes Association honors the pig for saving millions of lives.

The fundraising candidate who raises the most money has the honor of kissing Dolly, a 5-week-old piglet, at the Kiss a Pig Gala.

Every dollar raised helps the ADA provide diabetes advocacy, education programs, research and outreach support for the people of Kentucky. To donate to Ann’s campaign, visit www.diabetes.org/kissapigann.

E-cigarettes present a danger to adolescent smokers

Understanding the dangers of e-cigarettes

In the 1970s, Congress banned tobacco ads to protect our impressionable youth from perceiving smoking as socially desirable.

Now, for the first time in decades, advertisements portraying the recreational use of tobacco products are reappearing in popular media. Advertisements present e-cigarettes and vaporizers as safer alternatives to conventional cigarettes. Tobacco control advocates fear this type of exposure will unravel decades of progress in America by renormalizing smoking.

Researchers know little about the long-term effects of e-cigarettes. We do know nicotine, a highly addictive substance, has harmful effects on the adolescent brain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report more young people are trying e-cigarettes, and those who try e-cigarettes are twice as likely to express intent to smoke conventional cigarettes. About three out of four teen smokers will continue to smoke into adulthood.

It’s imperative that parents, mentors, teachers and youth are not misled about dangers of e-cigarettes through advertising.

No regulatory standards

The e-cigarette is classified in the U.S. as a tobacco product, not a tobacco cessation therapy. These devices came on the market in 2007 without any FDA testing and escaped many of the safety controls that protect consumers from potential harm.

FDA investigations are finding inconsistencies with the chemical and nicotine content reported on the product’s label and what is actually in the e-juice. Both devices and e-juice can be customized. Currently, no government standards exist for the production process or ingredients used in e-cigarettes or e-juice.

Exposure to highly addictive nicotine

Tobacco control advocates are especially concerned about the consequences of exposing teens to any amount of nicotine, which is highly addictive. Most people start using tobacco products before age 18. The younger a person is exposed to nicotine, the harder it is to quit later in life. Nicotine exposure can cause lasting harm to the brain and promote sustained use.

In addition to nicotine, e-cigarette users are exposed to 40 to 60 other chemicals found in e-juice. To date, no scientific evidence can fully explain the effects of those chemicals on the body when they are heated and inhaled.

Use for illegal substances

Youth are able to modify e-cigarettes for the consumption of illegal drugs. The devices can mask an illegal substance and facilitate smoking at school.

E-cigarettes are not innocuous devices. The unanswered questions regarding the safety of these devices and the detriments of exposing youth to nicotine aren’t worth the risk of trying them.

Audrey Darville

Audrey Darville

 

 

Audrey Darville is a tobacco treatment specialist at the University of Kentucky and an assistant professor in the UK College of Nursing. 

Learn how to prevent falls at the Falls Fair!

As we get older, falling can cause significant health issues. One out of every three adults age 65 or older falls each year, but fewer than half discuss it with their health care
provider.

Come to the Falls Fair for free information, demonstrations and activities that can help you prevent falls in your home.

UK HealthCare experts will be at the fair offering:Join UK HealthCare for the Falls Fair on Sept. 17
• Free blood pressure checks.
• Free gait/balance testing.
• Free on-site exercise demonstration.
• Free medicine checks.
• Information on how to fall-proof your home.
• On-site community resources.
• Raffle prizes, including items to help fall-proof your home, medication organizers, and UK merchandise such as T-shirts and tumblers.

Parking and transportation
The event is free and open to the public. Attendees can park in the UK HealthCare Garage, 110 Transcript Ave., (directly across S. Limestone from the hospital) and walk across the concourse bridge at Level C of the garage. Participants can also be dropped off in front of Pavilion A, where they will be greeted by volunteers who will take them to the event. Senior citizen centers shuttling participants can also drop off attendees in front of Pavilion A.

Tips to help you beat fall allergies

Who would think that an innocent looking tiny green flower would produce copious amounts of pollen, making us miserable with a stuffy, runny nose, itchy throat and eyes? This member of the daisy family is the culprit for hay fever, also known as ragweed allergies.

Ragweed season rears its ugly head in late summer through November with pollen counts at its highest levels in mid-September in most regions of the U.S. Some people with hay fever also develop asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and trouble breathing.

People whose parents or siblings have allergies to plant pollen are more likely to develop ragweed allergies. Also, people who have allergies to dust, animals, grass or mold tend to develop allergies to pollens, and people who already have an allergy to one type of plant pollen tend to develop allergies to other pollens.

Seasonal allergies develop when the body’s immune system in a genetically susceptible person becomes sensitized and makes allergic antibodies to something in the environment that causes no problem in most people.

Here are some tips to help you limit and avoid contact with ragweed pollen:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Limit time outdoors when ragweed counts are high and avoid mid-day when counts peak.
  • Keep your windows closed and air conditioning on.
  • Wear a dust mask if working outside.
  • Don’t wear outdoor work clothes inside to avoid bringing pollen in the house.
  • Clean and replace HVAC filters often using HEPA filters which remove at least 99 percent of pollen and other particles.
  • Use a clothes dryer rather than outdoor clothes lines.

Climate can affect the level of pollen particles, which in turn influences symptom severity. Ragweed pollen thrives during cool nights and warm days.

There is little we can do about the weather, but preparing for ragweed season can help you avoid some misery. Some allergy medicines should be taken one to two weeks before ragweed season begins. Ask your allergist which medicine(s) you should take, and begin your regimen now.

Your health care provider may also recommend allergy shots. The shots contain a tiny but increasing amount of the allergen you’re sensitive to. Over time, your body becomes used to the allergen and no longer reacts to it. Alternatively, sublingual drops for ragweed are also available, although this treatment will only treat ragweed allergy.

Beth Miller

Dr. Beth Miller

 

 

Dr. Beth Miller is division chief of Allergy and Immunology at the University of Kentucky and director of UK Allergy, Asthma and Sinus Clinics.