Ovarian cancer is very difficult to diagnose.

Symptoms can be confused with other less life-threatening illnesses and usually don't present until after the cancer is in its advanced stages. For example, I had a friend in nursing school who was very promiscuous. Despite rules forbidding visitors in the dorms after 9 PM, this sistah always found a way to sneak men into her dorm room at night.

The next morning in class, she regaled us with graphic details of her nightly romps with men. In our final year, her stories took on an ominous tone. She complained of sharp pain during sex, spotting and vague lower back pain. She attributed her heavy menstrual bleeding to her fibroids.

In our final year, she was diagnosed with aggressive ovarian cancer, and she passed away a few months after we graduated.

She was only 21-years-old.

Ovarian cancer is very difficult to diagnose in its early stages because there are usually no symptoms. Ovarian cancer is almost always difficult to treat once diagnosed.

94% of women diagnosed early live longer than five years, according to the American Cancer Society.

For more info on ovarian cancer, visit Cancer.org.

This has been your Medical Minute.

A recent study conducted at the University of Colorado shows that women carry a greater variety of germs on their hands than men.

''One thing that really is astonishing is the variability between individuals, and also between hands on the same individual," said Rob Knight, a University of Colorado biochemistry assistant professor who was among the researchers.

''The sheer number of bacteria species detected on the hands of the study participants was a big surprise, and so was the greater diversity of bacteria we found on the hands of women,'' said lead researcher Noah Fierer.

The researchers theorized that women carry more germs because of the acidity of their skin. Knight said men generally have more acidic skin than women. The more acid on the skin, the less likely bacteria will grow.

The researchers emphasized the importance of hand washing, but they noted hand washing -- even with antibacterial soap, doesn't eliminate all bacteria.

But you can eliminate most bacteria on your hands by following these simple steps:

  • Wet your hands in water as warm as you can tolerate
  • Lather with liquid soap and rub hands together vigorously for at least 30 seconds
  • Count one thousand. . . two thousand. . . three thousand . . . until you reach 30
  • Clean under your fingernails with a clean fingernail file or the fingernails on your other hand
  • Rinse your hands after 30 seconds
  • Lather your hands again briefly then rinse
  • Use a disposable paper towel to dry your hands
  • Use another paper towel (not the one you dried your hands with) to turn off the water
  • use that same paper towel to open the bathroom door
  • Discard the paper towel in the waste basket by the door

If there is no waste basket near the door, alert the management of the establishment, or carry your own paper towels in your handbag.

If you have dry skin, use a low pH lotion (between 4.5-5.5). The lower the pH, the more acidic the lotion. Remember, bacteria can't survive in an acidic environment.

Eucerin Daily Replenishing lotion is a good lotion to use.

This has been your Medical Minute.

According to source close to Janet Jackson's camp, she suffered dizzy spells during sound check in Montreal yesterday and had to be rushed to a hospital.

The source says Janet was treated for dehydration and exhaustion and released.

In an earlier post about Janet's illness, a loyal reader left a comment stating dehydration is not a serious illness.

Dehydration is indeed a very serious illness and can result in death if not treated. Dehydration occurs when the body loses more water than it takes in, such as losing water through diarrhea, vomiting, burns or engaging in physical sports without drinking water.

Dehydration is usually the main culprit when football players suddenly collapse and die on the field. The three main electrolytes found in the blood are Potassium, Sodium (salt) and Chloride. If any one of these electrolytes are present in too little or too much amounts, serious problems such as cardiac arrhythmias can occur.

You should familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of dehydration especially if you have very active children:

  • Thirst (some people react to thirst by eating instead of drinking)
  • Dry mouth
  • Dry eyes
  • No sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness especially when standing
  • Confusion
  • Fainting

Please consult with your doctor or visit an emergency room if you experience the above signs and symptoms.

A simple way to check for dehydration is to locate the bony prominence on the outside of your wrist. Pinch the skin above that bone on your wrist and hold it for five seconds then let go. If the skin remains pinched or slowly returns to normal, you may be dehydrated and should see your doctor.

If necessary, you will be hospitalized and given IV fluids and electrolyte replacement to rehydrate you.

This has been your Medical Minute.

Singer Natalie Cole, who was diagnosed with Hepatitis C, was recently hospitalized due to complications related to chemotherapy treatments according to People magazine.

Cole was in NYC promoting her just-released new album, Still Unforgettable, when she experienced a "set back," and had to be hospitalized, according to a family member.

Last week, Cole visited the set of "Entertainment Tonight" where she talked about her disease, saying, "This is a virus that was dormant in my body for 25 years. I had no symptoms, was feeling great, working out like a crazy person --- and this just keeled me over, like a feather... What I have is treated with chemo... every week."

However, chemotherapy is a treatment for cancer, not Hepatitis C. So why would Cole be receiving chemotherapy treatments, you ask?

The answer is the antiviral medication she's taking can be referred to as chemotherapy, although technically, they aren't classified as chemotherapy drugs.

Read more »

As most of you know, Hip Hop artist Nate Dogg (left) suffered a second stroke which left him paralyzed and on a ventilator.

According to TMZ.com, Dogg, real name Nathaniel Dwayne Hale is responding well to medical treatment and is only using a ventilator to make breathing easier.

A cardiovascular accident, or stroke, means a lack of blood flow to a part of the brain usually caused by a blood clot, an aneurysm that burst or trauma to the brain, causing brain cells to die.

In most cases, the symptoms affect one side of the body depending on what side of the brain the stroke occurred.

Symptoms include:

  • Headache, vomiting, loss of consciousness (aneurysm or bleeding in the brain)
  • Drooping on one side of the face or droopy eyelid
  • Slurred speech or difficulty speaking
  • Temporary or persistent loss of vision
  • Numbness or tingling in hands or feet or on one side of the body
  • Reduction in sensory perception such as altered taste or smell
  • Losing your balance slightly and you're not sure why
  • Trouble walking
  • Altered breathing, rapid heart rate
  • Vertigo or dizziness
  • Disorganized thinking, confusion, hypersexual gestures

If you experience any of the above symptoms, see your personal care physician or go to an emergency room immediately!

I have a female friend who, in her late twenties, began experiencing TIAs (transient ischemic attacks) which are sometimes referred to as mini strokes. She's now in her early 40s and walks with a cane.

TIAs differ from strokes because the symptoms resolve on their own in less than 24 hours and TIAs don't result in death of brain cells. But multiple TIAs can cause neurological problems such as difficulty walking.

Some people, like my friend, are prone to strokes because they have a history of high blood pressure or any other risk factor which includes: cigarette smoking, weed smoking, Diabetes, previous strokes or cardiac problems.

Patients who have a history of cardiac problems or high blood pressure are sometimes prescribed baby Aspirin daily to keep their blood thin to reduce the risk of clot formation.

This has been your Medical Minute.

If you live in the Atlanta area, you've heard about the case of Darlene Dukes (left) who died when an emergency dispatcher sent an ambulance to the wrong address last week.

Yes, human error played a part in this tragedy (it appears the dispatcher was not a good listener). But this tragedy could have been avoided if Ms. Dukes had a land line in her home. Many consumers have switched to cell phones as their primary phone in order to save money. But cell phones can cost lives.

There is no technology in place to identify cell phone numbers coming into an emergency call center. Therefore, it is important to have a land line - preferably a corded phone that doesn't require batteries. If your power goes out, your cordless phones won't work and you can't charge your cell phones either.

The official cause of Ms. Dukes' death was a Pulmonary Embolism (PE). A PE occurs when a blood clot travels from its point of origin to the lungs where it lodges in a small vessel causing the blockage of blood and oxygen. That part of the lung dies from lack of blood and oxygen.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath (Dyspnea)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain that gets worse with inhalation
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Rapid breathing
  • Cough or coughing up blood
  • More Medical Minute after the break...

    Read more »

    Comedian Bernie Mac has died according to his publicist. He was 50.

    Mac's publicist Danica Smith said Mac died early Saturday morning from complications related to pneumonia. This same publicist denied Mac's pneumonia was related to Mac's chronic disease, sarcoidosis, which Smith claimed was in remission since 2005.

    But what else could have caused Mac's pneumonia considering his past medical history?

    As I explained in my earlier post (in layman's terms), sarcoidosis is an immune disorder that turns the body's cells against itself. It occurs mainly in the lungs and lymph nodes (such as in your armpits, chest, neck and groin) but it can also occur anywhere in the body such as your skin, liver and other body organs.

    When sarcoidosis involves the skin, it causes tiny red bumps (granulomas) to develop. Inside the lungs, the bumps cause respiratory problems by clumping together, causing scarring and making it extremely difficult to breathe. Some patients with advanced sarcoidosis go on a ventilator.

    Doctors don't know what causes sarcoidosis - other than it is an extreme autoimmune response to something external in the environment (such as poison, infection or other diseases) which leads the body's cells to replicate out of control.

    In 60 to 70 percent of cases, symptoms will be vague or non-existent and most people won't know they have the disease. But if the disease involves the lungs, such as in Mac's case, the condition is more severe. Black people tend to develop the more severe form of sarcoidosis. There is no known cure.

    Symptoms of lung involvement include:

      * Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
      * Breathing difficulty
      * Persistent productive cough
      * Chest pain
      * Chest tightness
      * fatigue (feeling tired all the time)
      * night sweats
      * fever

    Legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor is in critical condition on life support, according to online reports. Taylor, 75, had been plagued with health problems for years.

    The star was diagnosed with pneumonia and congestive heart failure - the latter is a cardiac condition which causes the lungs to fill with foamy fluid restricting blood flow into the heart. This condition makes it very difficult for some patients to breathe without mechanical assistance.

    The British actress was the biggest star in the world in her heyday. Taylor was made an honorary dame by the Queen of England. (Source)

    (Photo source)

    Today's Medical Minute is dedicated to the narcissists among us like Angel Laws who owns the popular Concrete Poop blog, which I like to refer to as Ass Kissers Anonymous. AKA is a sort of self-help group for fellow brown nosers who worship celebrity narcissists like Knaye West and Jay Z.

    On Friday, Laws composed a long rambling email in response to my post about her. I wrote back that I wasn't reading all that BS -- but trust that I would see her at the Blogging While Brown Conference later this week, and she could tell me then.

    It should not be too hard to spot Angel: she'll be the only elephant in the room with a bad weave and an equally bad attitude.

    All this week leading up to the conference, I plan to dedicate a post to Laws and her camp. Yes, I realize it's juvenile, but she started it and I'm finishing it.

    So without further ado:

    In my opinion, Angel Laws is the epitome of a narcissist which simply means one who possesses a morbidly over-inflated sense of self importance. Some celebrities (and bloggers like Laws and that punk Brian) display the characteristics of a narcissist which is why they seek out the limelight so they can be celebrated by those deemed less worthy or beneath them -- that would be you.

    Read more »

    Natalie Cole's representative has confirmed that Natalie Cole was diagnosed with hepatitis C. Cole was forced to pull out of a concert in California last week due to the chronic illness.

    Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease which means it is spread through contact with infected blood such as blood transfusions, using dirty needles, body piercings, tattoos, or in Natalie's case, by snorting cocaine. Sexual transmission of hep C is rare except in cases where an individual is infected with HIV.

    Hepatitis C is usually diagnosed by accident since most patients don't show symptoms until the liver is affected. Chronic Hepatitis C (longterm infection) can cause inflammation of the liver (hepatitis). Most people stricken with hepatitis C show no symptoms sometimes for many years. Those who do show symptoms have advanced to cirrhosis of the liver and ultimately, liver failure.

    About one third of patients infected with hepatitis C develop conditions like portal hypertension (increased pressure in the liver) which leads to esophageal varices (distended veins in the esophagus, the tube which delivers food to the stomach). This condition manifests itself in projectile vomiting of pure blood when the varices burst and blood fills the stomach.

    Signs and symptoms of hepatitis C are usually vague. They include:

    • fever
    • fatigue (feeling sleepy all the time)
    • abdominal pain
    • ascites (abdominal swelling)
    • jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
    • itching
    • nausea and vomiting

    Consult your personal physician if you experience any of these signs/symptoms or if you have any questions. This has been your medical minute.

    Salmonella has been in the news lately due to an outbreak that health officials are calling the largest foodborne outbreak in U.S. history.

    The salmonella outbreak is blamed for over 1,000 illnesses across the country - with 203 people requiring hospitalization since June 1, 2008.

    What makes this outbreak particularly ominous is neither the FDA nor the CDC know what the source of the outbreak is.

    Initially, the source was thought to be tomatoes. But on Wednesday, U.S. health officials added hot jalapeño peppers and cilantro (salsa) to the growing list of suspects. The first cluster of illnesses were linked to restaurants, leading federal officials to believe that food containing fresh tomatoes and jalapeno peppers were the culprits.

    "Neither tomatoes nor jalapeños explain the entire outbreak at this point," said Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the division of foodborne, bacterial and mycotic diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. "We're presuming that both of them cause illness."

    Some critics believe the government's inability to pinpoint an exact cause leaves the nation vulnerable to biological terrorist attacks.

    Read more »