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Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Educate a woman and you educate an entire generation…


Recently a photo of a 25 year old Afghan girl Jahan Taab from  a remote poor village Oshto in Daikundi,  went viral when she was taking the college entrance exam called Kankor Exam while breast feeding her child. Later it was confirmed that she has passed the exams and wants to go to college to study Sociology. Photo credits are given to an invigilating lecturer Yahya Erfan. He was so moved by her determination that he posted the pictures on his facebook. Link here

“She got up from her desk when her baby started to get fussy. She sat down on the floor, breastfeeding the infant, and kept filling out the answers to the test.” (Buzzfeed).

She reportedly told the lecturer Mr. Erfan that she is worried about the cost of education and that the University is 8 hours from her residence. It is the power of social media that a Go-Fund was created to support the cost of here higher education.

More about JahanTaab

 

 

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Needless to say, girls’ determination to study is never an issue. The key barrier is the systemic patriarchy in the garb of cultural mores or religious edicts.

Patriarchy is such an omnipresent barrier that hinders women in all communities and all economic strata one way or the other. And here is where the role of men becomes extremely important in bringing about women empowerment by dismantling the walls of patriarchy.

Here I must share my own story too.

(Bear in mind I am an urban educated woman with a strong will power. But even then, had it also not been the supportive men in my life, I may not have sailed through various systemic hurdles that patriarchal infrastructures create at every nook and corner of a woman’s life). 

In the early 1990s, as an Indian medical graduate I had to go through a written and a clinical exam by Pakistan Medical and Dental Council to be certified to practice in Pakistan. I opted Karachi centre. When I received notification for the exam it said the exam will not be held in Karachi as there are no other candidates. The exam will be in Peshawer.

Since I lived in the Middle East, I was supposed to travel with my kids to Karachi where my in laws lived. But before I could even know and panic about how I will travel with kids to Peshawer, my husband first took an emergency leave from his hospital, and then informed me that we are all travelling to Peshawer. 

My husband Fasih and I, with our two kids- a toddler and a 6 month old breast feeding infant landed in Peshawar. It was a 3 day long exam- with a written paper and clinical exam.  From day 1, my husband sat in the lawn of the examination centre, with two babies, as he dropped me for the exam. I would come out to feed the baby every few hours in the breaks.

Funniest incident in the whole saga was when my daughter cried, “Papa potty.”
He ran with the baby in one hand and the toddler in another to the washroom.
As he entered the male washroom the guard said, “Take the girl to female washroom with her mother.”
“BUT mother is busy in exam.”
“Then wait.”
“But this baby cannot wait. She has to go urgently.”
So the guard let him take her to the washroom. And while holding the infant in arms he helped the toddler finish the job and clean her. 
Finally they came back to play and sit in the lawn again. 
And then he smelt the baby has soiled his diaper. He ran again to the same wash room.
The chowkidar got annoyed, “Ap pher se as gaye?” (You have come again?).
Fasih: “Smell this diaper.”
The guard laughed and commented, “Aur parhao biwi ko.”(Let your wife study more).

After day1 the entire examination team knew about my family and when I went from each viva and clinical exam, from Internal Medicine to General Surgery to ENT to ObGyn to Ophthalmology, first thing the professors asked was how are the husband and babies doing? 
Second question they asked was, “Where have you graduated from?”. 
On reply “Lady Hardinge Medical College in New Delhi” every single one of them began the viva with the comment, “So do we really need to test your knowledge?”
No bragging but I passed with the top position. 

The head examiner was Prof Zakaullah Beg who was my husband’s professor in his postgraduate life. He himself called Fasih on phone 2 weeks later in Karachi to break the news.

Moral of the story: Empower a woman and she will make her husband, family and entire community proud.

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“A woman cannot use contraception without the husband’s permission.”


“A woman cannot use contraception without the husband’s permission.”

I wish men ever got pregnant and had to raise children the way mothers do to realize what a travesty of injustice this clause by Council of Islamic Ideology, Pakistan is. It should be the other way round….men must have the permission from women for not using contraception.

There is little consolation that contraception is not an ‘as big an issue here like in Catholicism'(as often compared by the apologists), but if Allah (SWT) allows it, I am sure the Almighty has granted this right to  women knowing they are the ones who bear the children in their wombs and raise them.  Making husbands be the police over contraception is injustice and no where in any holy texts can this be found. Why is it a rocket science that this is simply a patriarchal attempt by  opportunistic men to control women?

Having worked in a conservative community in Makkah, Saudi Arabia in the field of ObGyn/Family Medicine for 14 years, I know exactly what this means.

Here is a true story, which I remember even the details of.

A 40/41 year old woman with 5 children, eldest in his late teens came to me asking for contraception. After discussion on pros & cons, she decided to choose a pill that was appropriate for her age.
Half an hour later, her husband, in early 60s banged the clinic door open and showed me the medication in his hand asking: “What is this?”
I told him “This is a medication for women.”
Him: “Is this contraceptive?”
Me: “Yes.”
He threw it in my dustbin and warned me that if I prescribed a contraceptive again, he will complain against me.
He closed my door back and I was later told that he dragged his wife to the car pulling her by her head scarf.

An year and a half later, the woman had a new baby.

Three years after the child was born this man suddenly died of brain hemorrhage at 67.
The lady was left with 6 children, 2 of them not even in their teens. And she was the second of the three wives he had left behind.
I saw her all the years, until I left the job, and I know in how much misery this woman in her mid to late forties was going through raising children as a widow on 1500 Saudi Riyals stipend as a widow.
(BTW this is one of several stories I personally encountered).

It is easy for men to dictate not to use contraception but it is extremely hard for women to raise children when men take decisions but do not follow through with responsibilities arising out of it.

Decision to bear children and their number must ideally be a joint responsibility. The woman must have a voice in that decision making instead of being forced upon her.

 

Sometimes calamities unite us more


First published here: http://amankiasha.com/detail_news.asp?id=1018

The conscience-shaking brutal rape and subsequent
death of the anonymous student from Delhi is not India’s issue alone and the grief is not for one case alone
By Ilmana Fasih

As thousands of people on both sides of the India Pakistan border mourned the death of the Delhi gang rape victim, someone commented on Aman ki Asha Facebook group: “Well, the Delhi rape proceeds from a common mindset. The negatives unite us just as well as the positives.”
“Sometimes, calamities unite us more,” came a response.

The conscience-shaking brutal rape and subsequent death of the anonymous student from Delhi (who is referred to by different names by various sections of the media) has made us rethink how common our pains are.

Beyond this tragic incident, looking through the e-newspapers from the subcontinent, there is hardly a day without some incident of rape being reported.Be it the gruesome gang-rape of a medical student at a bus stop in a megacity, or a six-year-old girl raped by local goons in a village, or a girl raped while partying with friends in the posh area of another city, or a teenager gang-raped and then asked to patch up by accepting money or marrying one of the rapists in a town. Can you guess which side of the border each case belongs to? The scenarios differ, cities differ, but the crime remains the same. The mindset stays identical. Age is no bar. Infancy upwards, one finds women and children of all age groups being subjected to rape and sexual abuse.

Unfortunately this is one situation where the human race seems to have achieved a “no barriers of age, color, creed or class”, the world over.

Hard to digest, but rapes are on a steep rise in the subcontinent.

In 2011, 568 rape cases were reported in Delhi, and 459 in 2009 (National Crime Reports Bureau) .The figures given by Delhi Police reveal that a woman is raped every 18 hours or molested every 14 hours in the capital.

Similarly in Pakistan, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, estimates that “every two hours a woman is raped in Pakistan and every eight hours a woman is subjected to gang-rape”.

The Additional Police Surgeon, quoted in a 2008 newspaper report, estimated that at least 100 rapes are committed in Karachi alone every 24 hours, although most are un-reported.

If these are the statistics of two megacities, one can fathom what would be the situation in the other smaller towns and villages. It is well known that the majority of the rapes in India, Pakistan and other South Asian countries are never reported, and just a handful of the perpetrators are ever punished.
The tragedy is amplified when inane solutions are offered like: “Women should not go out late at night” or “Women going out late night should be accompanied by a male.” In the ‘Delhi gang rape’ case, the solution of an accompanying man clearly failed.

Women are advised not to wear western clothes, or more ridiculous “not to eat chow mein” or “not to carry mobile phones with cameras”. Some even advise women to not report the attack “if there are not enough witnesses”.

But none of this well-meaning advice takes into account why rapes occur. It is not because the woman was dressed so, or walked alone on the street late at night, or was attending a party with her friends or ate a certain kind of food. No. Rape occurs because some men want to rape. And why do ‘some’ men want to rape and not others? Rape is the culmination of a series of systematic experiences that a man is exposed to, from infancy to manhood- in which he is told, with or without so many words, that he is stronger, and a woman is not just weaker, but a commodity at his disposal. Rape is a way to display power and superiority.

So long as this mindset persists, legislation and punishment will never be enough of a deterrent. This tends to get overlooked in all the outrage at the gruesome details of the Delhi gang rape, that has led to demands for the severest of punishments, even public hanging for the perpetrators.
Without undermining that tragedy it is important to remind ourselves of the countless cases of rape and sexual harassment that are routine on both sides of the divide. Those who survive suffer psychological trauma, often far from the media limelight, mostly in silence.

Rape survivors are often pressured by the police or local goons to hush up the matter either, to accept money, or worse still, marry the rapist. Many commit suicide, or live with permanent scars. The rapists often roam scot free, posing a threat to the survivor who does not even dare to raise her head for justice.

Insisting on the death penalty in an isolated case that has shaken people cannot be a solution. Studies have shown that the certainty of punishment, rather than its severity, is a greater deterrent to crime.

We also need to look towards at preventing this crime rather than just push for a punishment after a case gets highlighted.

Foremost, each of us, irrespective of gender, which empathises with the Delhi student who was gang-raped, or any other faceless rape victim, needs to strive to ensure every woman in our sphere of influence feels secure and gets due respect. One of the signs of evolution in human beings is the neo cortex which enables us to restrain behaviour and train our minds. We need to use it to ensure that we don’t force anything upon any woman – or indeed anyone in a more vulnerable position.

Secondly, we need to empower girls with the right information and stop making rape a taboo issue for their ‘innocent’ minds. It is more important to teach a girl to be assertive than to try and ‘protect’ her. “Look up as you walk and stand up straight; pretending as though you have two big panthers on either side of you as you walk may sound silly, but it can help boost confidence,” suggests a self help site on rape prevention. “Attackers are more likely to go for those who they think cannot defend themselves.”

Given that over 90% of the perpetrators are known to the victims, girls (and boys) must be taught that if they feel uncomfortable with anyone’s touch – even if it is an uncle, a cousin or a friend – they must trust their gut and not let it continue. Thirdly, if we cannot change the mindset of some grown men, we can at least guide our sons, right from babyhood, to respect women and not consider them a commodity that is ‘available’. Last but certainly not the least, for those who cannot change their mindsets, a real need for certainty and not the severity of punishment to the rapist, as a mode of deterrence, is mandatory.

Shocked after the demise of the Delhi paramedical student, I tweeted: “Her sacrifice must no go in vain. Let us rise to make violence against women a history.” Knowing the scale of the menace, this may be wishful thinking, but we need to keep striving to make it a reality.

The writer is an Indian gynaecologist married to a Pakistani, a proud Indian Pakistani dreaming of a peaceful, healthy and prosperous South Asia.
ilmana_fasih@hotmail.com.

She tweets @zeemana

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

A tribute to Delhi gang raped girl, inititially known as Amanat, Nirbhaya or Damini:

Goodbye Damini – A tribute to Nirbhaya

Preparing for the New Arrival- Prenatal Checkup


Every human being deserves to be in good health, at all ages.

For women likely or planning to embark on pregnancy need to be healthy is even more. The health of a woman has bearing not only to her own future health during and after pregnancy, but also of her unborn baby developing in her.

Unplanned pregnancies are at a greater risk not only to the mother, but to the babies with preterm and low birth babies. Some medical conditions and medications can harm the developing baby.

pregnant exam

Ideally the preparation for pregnancy should begin 3 months before getting pregnant. Some actions, such as quitting smoking, reaching a healthy weight, or adjusting medicines already in use, should start even earlier.

Steps to take before PLANNING a pregnancy:
1. All women need to take 400 to 800 micrograms of folic acid every day. It is proven that, folic acid lowers your risk of some birth defects of the brain and spine, including spina bifida. Talk to your doctor about your folic acid needs.
2. Stop smoking and drinking alcohol– it is better to start much earlier.
3. If you have any medical condition, be sure it is under control. Common conditions include: asthma, diabetes, oral health, obesity, or epilepsy.
4. For any over-the-counter and prescription medicines you are using, do inform your doctor about it. These include dietary or herbal supplements.
5. Be sure your vaccinations especially the Rubella vaccination is up to date.
6. Avoid contact with toxic substances or materials that could cause infection at work and at home. Stay away specially from chemicals and cat or rodent feces.
7. Avoid intake of fish that can be high in mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.

If there has occurred an UNPLANNED PREGNANCY:
Start taking care of yourself right away.

• Take 400 to 800 micrograms (400 to 800 mcg or 0.4 to 0.8 mg) folic acid every day.
• Stop alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. Ask help for quitting smoking.
• Make a doctor’s visit to confirm your pregnancy.
• Discuss your health and issues that could affect your pregnancy. Find out what you can do to take care of yourself and your unborn baby.

What are the different periods/trimesters of pregnancy?

Pregnancy can be divided into 3 trimesters of approximately 3 months each. They are:

pregnancy trimesters.

What happens during prenatal visits?

During the first prenatal visit, you can expect your doctor to:

  •  Ask about your health history including previous pregnancies, other diseases, operations etc.
  • Calculate your due date from your last menstrual period.
  • Ask about your family’s health history
  • Do a complete physical exam, including a pelvic exam and Pap test
  • Check your blood pressure, height, and weight
  • Take your blood and urine for lab work—Blood group, Hemoglobin, check immunity to certain infectios esp Rubella, Varicella, Blood tests for infections like: hepatitis B, toxoplasmosis, syphilis, gonorrhea or chlamydia. You might also be offered a test to check for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
  • Will order for you an Ultrasound test: To detect the location, and double check the age of the growing foetus. The doctor may also ask for certain extra blood and US tests to check for fetal abnormalities.
  • Answer your questions—you must freely discuss all your concerns and fears with your doctor. Find out all you can about how to stay healthy.

Note: The purpose of first prenatal visit is to book with the doctor, get your date of delivery ascertained, check if there are any risks to the pregnancy & get basic tests done.

Following prenatal visits will probably be shorter.

  • Your doctor will check on your health and make sure the baby is growing as expected. Most prenatal visits will include:
  • Checking your blood pressure
  • Measuring your weight gain
  • Measuring your abdomen to check your baby’s growth (once you begin to show)
  • Checking the baby’s heart rate—Though Ultrasound can detect the heart rate almost at any early age, but for a heart beat by a Doppler is heard only after 3 months.
  • You will probably not need any internal (pelvic examination) till the later part of pregnancy.

Number and Frequency of prenatal visits:
Usually the visits are monthly till 28 weeks, then in two weeks, till 36 weeks. The purpose of the tests during the pregnancy is to ensure that the baby is growing as expected, and that the health of the mother is also normal. Regular checkups will help in finding out any deviation from normal early, and hence easy to handle.
Towards the end, after 36 weeks, the visits become weekly, just to make sure, that the growth and the position of the baby is normal enough for a normal delivery, or if not, then prepare for a surgical delivery.

Special Tests during pregnancy:
In the fifth month, the doctor shall ask you for a blood test to check Glucose tolerance. This is to rule out if you have the risk of developing high blood sugar in the pregnancy, as this can harm the growth of the baby.
Some specialist centers  may also do a ‘cardiac Ultrasound at five months ( 20 weeks) to check that baby has no heart defect.
If your Blood group is Rh negative while husband’s is positive, the doctor will ask for a Rh Antibodies test.

Ultrasound scans during pregnancy:

  • In the first 10 weeks of pregnancy the best way to scan is by inserting a small probe into the vagina. The examination is similar to an internal pelvic examination. Embryos as small as a few millimeters long will be visible on the TV monitor. The procedure my be a little uncomfortable for some, but it is not painful at all.
  • In later stages of the pregnancy, the scanning will be done via the surface of the abdomen. Ultrasound gel will be spread on the skin, then the scanner is passed over the uterus until the fetus and the placenta are found. Usually, the pregnant woman and her partner can watch the scan on the monitor.
  • In the first stage of the pregnancy, usually before 14 weeks, ultrasound scanning is used to check whether the fetus is alive and whether it is alone or one of twins or triplets.
  • By measuring the length of the fetus it is also possible to accurately determine when the baby will be due.Some major abnormalities can also be detected at this stage.
  • At 11 to 14 weeks, measurement of the thickness of the skin at the back of the neck (known as nuchal translucency measurement) can be used to calculate the risk of the fetus having a chromosome abnormality.
  • From 18 weeks onward  it is possible to examine the fetus in more detail. Most organ systems can be examined to ensure that the fetus appears to be developing normally. The spine, skull, brain, heart, lungs, kidneys, arms and legs can all be seen. If the mother is overweight, then the quality of the examination may be poor.
  • From 30 weeks onward  ultrasound is often used to estimate how well the baby appears to be growing. It is difficult to be precise about this but it is often useful if the woman has had a small baby in the past or has a condition that may affect the baby’s growth, such as preeclampsia.
  • The bloodstream in the umbilical cord is also examined to see if it is functioning well enough to transport sufficient oxygen and nutrition to the fetus.
  • It is also possible to check the position of the placenta to see whether it is lying normally or if the placenta is lying abnormally close to the inside of the cervix (a condition known as placenta praevia).
  • There is no scientific evidence to support the concern of harm caused by repeated US scan.

pregnancy_ultrasoundObsUS

Last weeks of pregnancy:

  • After 36 weeks till 40 weeks you will be asked to visit every week.
  • Apart from the usual weight and blood pressure, the doctor will lay more emphasis on the abdominal and pelvic examination to assess the position of the baby and its possibility of a normal birth through vaginal delivery.
  • If the baby is with head down, you are good to go with normal delivery.
  • If the baby is positioned otherwise i.e. rump or legs first( breech) the doctor might try to over the abdomen to turn the baby to head down. This is called as external cephalic version.
  • If it still remains so, then you might need Cesaerian section.
  • In the last visits, do ask doctor about any questions that arise in your mind, pertaining to the child birth, like sexual intercourse in the last weeks, or about the preparation of the new arrival, like Breast feeding the baby, and other concerns. This is also the right time to discuss, what are the different methods of birth control, in order to space the next child.

Role of the Dads to be:
You know it takes two to make a baby. She’s not the only one who’s expecting, you too are. Hence the responsibility does not stop there. Nor does it stay limited to driving a screaming partner to the hospital for child birth and then pacing in the corridor to hear if it’s a girl or a boy.

Research has shown, the Dads who take part in the pregnancy have less infant mortality rates. And there needs to be a relationship built with the baby while the baby is in the mothers womb.

OJO-PE0068533 - © - Chris Ryan

Some of the things fathers-to-be need to do:

  • Create a birth plan together-the doctor to be seen, the place of birth, the method of birth, even about the time baby arrives.
  • Read up together with the Mom to be about pregnancy from the net, books, hospital brochures etc.
  • Accompany her to her prenatal visits, her tests and Ultrasound scans. Also know what is being done and why?
  • Nurture the Mom to be—understand her condition, her anxieties, help her in the daily chores, make her rest, and most of all pamper her, after all she is carrying your baby.
  • Build a relationship with the baby. Studies show that babies in the womb can hear outside noises (and voices) as early as the fourteenth week. By talking to your baby he/she will be familiar with your voice even when still in the womb and this will help develop a closer bond with your tot before he/she enters the real world.
  • Lastly, enjoy your new role, don’t take it as a challenge or burden.

Dr. Bradley said (in his path-breaking book “Husband-Coached Childbirth”), “You can’t beat a husband as a companion in labour!”

pregnancy Dad

Childbirth:

From 36 weeks to 40 weeks , it is normal time for childbirth. If no onset of labor  pregnancy can be allowed to go on till 42 weeks, but there is close watch at the baby with weekly checkups.

Majority i.e. 85% or more have normal childbirth, while 15% or less may need a Caesaerian section.

There are many details, and information an expectant couple would like to learn, about child birth. The are many details you need to know, and hence I suggest you to read, and understand about Sign of labor  types of delivery  episiotomy, epidural anaesthesia etc and know terms like Labor Pains, cervical effacement, breaking water, episiotomy etc. This link answer many of your queries.

newborn

“A mother’s joy begins when new life is stirring inside… when a tiny heartbeat is heard for the very first time, and a playful kick reminds her that she is never alone“

How to avoid Cancer !


What is cancer?
Cancer is not just one disease, but many diseases. There are more than 100 different types of cancer.
Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues. Cancer cells can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.
Cancer is a leading cause of disease worldwide (GLOBOCAN estimates that 12.7 million new cancer cases occurred worldwide in 2008).

The top 4 causes being:
• Lung (12.7%)
• Female breast (10.9%)
• Colorectal (9.7%)
• Stomach cancer (7.8%)
In all these four cancers account for 40% of deaths from cancer.

Although the incidence rate in developed countries is twice as high as the developing countries like ours, but the outcome ( in terms of death and disease) is much worse in the developing countries, owing to poor detection at early stage, and poor case management. However, the incidence of cancers related to infections like stomach, liver or cervix ( which can be prevented) are more common in developing countries.

GOOD NEWS is that about half of all cancer cases are preventable. Prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer.
And even Cancer diagnosis is still not a death statement. If detected early can be cured.

Many reasons within our genes, our lifestyle, and the environment around us may increase or decrease our risk of getting cancer.

There are simple measures that we as ordinary human beings can take to prevent cancers to some extent.

Here are they :

Part 1

LIFESTYLE:

TOBACCO in smoke or chewable form TOPS the list.
Tobacco use is the single greatest avoidable risk factor for cancer mortality worldwide, causing an estimated 22% of all cancer deaths per year.
Cancer that tobacco can cause are of lung, esophagus, larynx (voice box), mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, cervix and female breast.
About 70% of the lung cancer burden can be attributed to smoking alone.
Second-hand smoke (SHS), also known as environmental tobacco smoke, has been proven to cause lung cancer in non-smoking adults.
Avoiding tobacco is best, however cessation of the use of tobacco, gradually reduces the risk, and in 15 yrs is as good as for non smokers.

ALCOHOL
Alcohol is a risk factor for many cancer types including cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and breast. Risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. The risk from heavy drinking for several cancer types (e.g. oral cavity, pharynx, larynx and esophagus) substantially increases if the person is also a heavy smoker.
WEIGHT & EXERCISE
Obesity is a cause for most chronic diseases and cancers, including breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney and endometrium.
A general goal of 30 minutes exercise every day and keeping the body weight in the normal range can avoid from a lot of cancer risks.

RISKY BEHAVIORS:
-Practice safe sex & do not share needles, sharps like nail cutters and razors. There may cause Hepatitis B, C or HIV infections which can then lead to Liver or other cancers. Cancers caused by infectious agents(viruses etc) are more common in developing nations e.g. Cervical Cancer, Liver Cancer and Stomach Cancer.

SUN EXPOSURE:
Light skinned especially should protection from sun by use sunscreen with SPF >30 between 10 AM and 4 PM. Skin cancers like Basal Cell Carcinoma(BCC) or Melanomas. BCC are less aggressive but Melanomas are very aggressive and fast growing cancers & kill 75% of those who have them.

PART-2
FOOD

What makes some foods cancerous?
Refined sugars: They act as fuels for the growing cancer cells, as ready energy. Terms suggestive of refined sugars on food labels are: high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, sucrose, enriched bleached flour, white rice, white pastas, white breads and other “white” foods. Refined flour are also lacking in fibres which cause cancer.
Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils: Besides being a cancer factor, trans fats promote heart disease, interrupt metabolic processes, and cause belly fat(obesity) that in turn are again another cause of cancer.
Sodium nitrite (and nitrates): Added to give pink color to the meat. During the digestion process, however, sodium nitrite is converted to nitrosamine, and that’s where the cancer problems begin. Nitrosamine is a carcinogen. Nitrosamines are also found in food items that are pickled, fried, or smoked; in things such as beer, cheese, and fish by products, and tobacco smoke.
Saturated fats: Usually of animal origin which may cause obesity which is indirectly or directly related to certain cancers.
• Some chemical additives like coloring agents and flavouring agents have also been known to be cancerous.

Top cancerous Foods:
1. Soda pops, sweetened drinks: >2 servings per week increases Pancreatic cancer by 87%. Glucose and Fructose both feed cancer cells. Women who ate the most high-glycaemic-load foods were close to three times more likely to develop colorectal cancer.
2. Fried foods: French fries, hash browns, potato chips, samosas, pooris. – Apart from calories, they contain saturated fat and trans fat, they also contain acryl amides. They should be called “cancer fries,”
3. Processed meats and bacons: burgers, sausages, bacons. Nitrosamines are produced from fat at high temperature cooking, as in tobacco smoking. People who eat a lot of processed meat may be 50 percent more likely to develop colorectal cancer, stomach cancer or pancreatic cancer.
4. Red meats: Beef. Researches show even eating twice a week, they raise a risk by 20% of cancers of breast, colon and prostate cancers.
5. Donuts, Cookies, chips and crackers: Refined sugars, refined flour and trans fats. They scream for themselves that they are cancerous foods.
6. Charred meats, smoked meats: Many studies including one from Harvard have shown a high link between charred meats and cancer of colon, stomach. Even delicious smoked meats are high in nitrosamines due to the nature of their cooking. Trick is eat them sparingly, if cannot avoid.

How can healthy eating prevent cancer?
The main principle is eat simple:
Eat unprocessed foods and base your diet largely on plants. Consume foods that have omega-3 fats and other essential fatty acids.
Eat lots of fruits and vegetables; many common ones have known cancer-fighting properties.
Get regular vigorous exercise, since tumors cannot thrive in highly oxygenated environments.
Keep your blood sugar stable to avoid being an all-you-can-eat buffet for cancer cells.

Top cancer preventing foods:
Green leafy vegetables: These cute little green trees help to fight off stomach, liver, skin, lung, bladder, prostate, and breast cancers. Broccoli contains sulforaphane, an antioxidant that rids the body of cancer-causing toxins.
Hint: Cooked Brocolli tastes mushy, so avoid over cooking, leave it crunchy, or make stir-fry, or eat raw in salads.

Berries: The darker the berry the better still. Blackberry, blue berry, strawberry, raspberry. They contain anthocyanins, antioxidants that slow the growth of premalignant cells.

Garlic: Fights the nitrosamines in the red meat.
Clue: Add garlic to your tomato puree, sauce.

Tomatoes: contain lycopene, which has been shown to stop cancer cell growth according to research. The sure fire way to increase lycopene is by cooking tomatoes.

Walnuts; are the best among nuts for fighting both breast and prostate cancers. Adding just an ounce of walnuts a day will help to keep the cancer away. Vitamin E (gamma-tocopherol) found in nuts and plant seeds may slow the growth of cancer cells.

Beans: Navy and black beans help delay cancer growth of breast and colon cancers. Add a half a cup to your diet a week, at least!

Coffee: Research shows that coffee may contain healing antioxidants as well, preventing colon cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. An alkaloid in coffee may even prevent cavities!
Studies also show that drinking coffee helps reduce muscle soreness and improves stamina
Harvard researchers are finding an intriguing link between coffee and the prevention of an aggressive type of prostate cancer. However, it’s too early to recommend boosting coffee drinking to men, although one cup of coffee might be helpful.

Green Tea: Antioxidants of green tea are also known to be cancer preventive.

ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS:
Many environmental toxins are blamed to be carcinogenic.

The topic of environmental carcinogens is vast and controversial. For details on each aspect and toxins see the link: Here

Part- 3

KNOW YOUR BODY:
Keep a regular check on your body- any moles on the skin, or your breasts ( in women) or testicles (in men), especially while taking shower, or changing clothes. If you feel any change in the shape size, or feel any lump, or feel any change in your body or symptoms which appear unusual to yourself, you must take doctor’s opinion. Please do not panic. This does not mean you necessarily have cancer or a serious problem. But even if it is, it will be detected early.

BE INFORMED:
Cancer Prevention and Early Detection strategies:
Certain cancers are known to be caused by viruses, and being infectious spread easily in developing countries. They can be avoided by using their vaccines:
Hepatitis B Virus: A set three vaccines given will prevent Hepatitis B which is a common cause of Liver Cancer
Human Papilloma Virus: A sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical cancer. A new vaccine against HPV protects 99% against Cervical Cancer.
Helicobacter pylori: For stomach cancer. Hence when detected, must be treated promptly by consulting a Gastroenterologist.

ALSO BE INFORMED THAT: There are certain cancers which can be screened and detected early and prevent complications and premature death.

Following two blogs shall explain in detail how to prevent or detect cancer early. There are specific screening tests and issues in men and women which shall be discussed in next two blogs: Early Cancer Detection in Women & Early Cancer Detection in  Men, respectively.

There’s a famous saying: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. The ( not so secret) apple for cancer prevention is:

Take home apple, oops message is: “Half of the cancers are preventable and can be avoided through healthy living and better awareness.”

I dream of a Polio free Pakistan


In January 2012, India was declared to have not reported a single case of Polio for over a year. Knowing its vast area, huge population, diverse terrain and socio economic disparity, to have achieved this was a mammoth achievement. My joy of the news was terminated, before it began, when I realised how far Pakistan was from this goal, especially after 173 cases being diagnosed in the past year , and a few almost recently. My heart shuddered to question, “How long would this take Pakistan to reach that goal of being Polio free?”

However June 2012 and early July brought forth a new wave of hope, when the UNICEF’s Regional Director, Karin Hulshoff, wrote in a newspaper of her excitement and optimism with which the work of Polio eradication was progressing in Pakistan. According to a report by a scientific group, there were only 22 cases in the past six months as compared to 58 the same time last year. Owing to the introduction of a new bivalent vaccine, there have been better results, with Pakistan approaching the hopeful day of eradication faster. She stressed that now more emphasis should be given to the coverage of missed cases, or those never vaccinated earlier. “Even one child missed is a lost opportunity to eradicate polio from Pakistan forever”. Hence to not miss any case, the program was geared up everywhere and in the FATA too.

The same time was the case of Dr Afridi for spying came to light. It is sad, media also misreported, and many among the common masses still believe that Dr Afridi was associated with Polio campaign, though the truth remains that he was collecting samples for the hepatitis C virus.

The coincidental increase in the activities of Polio campaign to speed up the Polio eradication, and Dr Afridi’s spying mission led many to misunderstand that there was some conspiracy against the tribal region, through Polio vaccination. There could be no two opinions about abusing the trust of the people on health workers for one’s vested interests. It is extremely deplorable. But should one or more such Dr Afridis succeed in putting the health of 240,000 innocent children at risk?

How about the tribal elders instead, recruit their own trusted workers to give the two drops of Polio to their innocent kids and secure not just the future of kids, but also their own reputation as being concerned and caring for the humanity?

However, the ban by the tribal elders for the July16-18 Polio drive was to ask for a total stop of drones. Drones are a tragedy, and are inhuman, especially the loss of innocent lives of children are deplorable, but to use one’s own children as a first line of defence, and deprive them of their right to be safe from a crippling disease, is as unfortunate. I wish the tribal elders who are genuinely concerned about the lives of their common people killed by drones, understood, if their community stays burdened with ill health, they shall be unable to defend themselves either from extremism or any outside aggression, but also get more isolated in the international community.

Can there be no stronger, yet humanitarian ways to protest for stopping of drones, which does not tarnish the image of the tribal men and women?

Shahid Afridi’s inclusion into the Polio campaign is a welcome, and rekindles the hope to see the dream of a Polio free Pakistan come true, sooner than I had feared. Shahid Afridi has stood up for a great service to his own tribal children. He is a true hero and a true humanist; who has roots from the tribal area. In a tweet he remarked:

Afridi vs Polio ‏@AfridivsPolio
#Pakistan is my country and to #SpeakUpAgainstPolioBan is my duty.

At the same time it is hurting to see people of tribal areas being ridiculed ( though rightly so)  internationally for their decision

“Oh yes, I see it, polio vaccines for kids and drone attacks, there is a close relation. CRAZY! #speakupagainstpolioban.”

Or see the decision as illogical:

“Its like cutting your own hand as your protest against a theft, or lashing yourself against the fornication by a foe.”

Another tweep saw how the decision is ultimately going in favour of the aggressors who are being protested against:

They are killing children through drone attacks and these people are trying to make their children crippled for life. It is fulfilment of aggressor’s interests both ways.

Children from the tribal areas are as dear to us as anywhere else in Pakistan. We dream of seeing them Polio free too, and be healthy in every way. We are equally hurt at the drones attacks on the innocent.

I repeat, there can be innumerable stronger ways of protest to make international community notice the aggression and causalities caused by drones, instead of making innocent humanity, whether by killing the health personnel or innocent human beings, or depriving the children of Polio vaccine, a symbol of their protest. This simply leads to tragic loss of credibility and lack of sympathy from the international community. The image of the fellow Pakistanis living in tribal areas, including their elders being tarnished by such decisions hurts, because we know they are as human as any one of us, in Pakistan.

At the same time politicians across the board, remain criminally silent to the issue. Even the kids are not spared now, from being used as  bait for political agendas.

However, I insist I still dream for a Polio free Pakistan from Karachi to FATA.

Please do not play politics with the health of innocent kids !


Published in @ETribune : http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/12865/dont-play-god-with-the-lives-of-innocent-children/

As the rest of the world is sprinting forward, we in Pakistan seem to be walking backwards. One used to get this sense sometimes, but now with passage of time, it comes more often. With the fact that most of the difficult places like India having grappled with a serious health issue like Polio, and are at the turn of calling themselves polio free, we in Pakistan are not just not close to that, but even retreating fast to make sure we get further away from this dream.

The news of North Waziristan deciding to impose Polio drops ban in their area as a protest against the drones, or the boycotting of Polio campaign in Drazinda village while protesting against the load shedding, brings in not just shivers to the health conscious on this globe, but also gives yet another reason for Pakistan to be a focus in the international circles for a ridiculous reason.

They have a right to register their protests against drone’s attacks, or of Dr Afridi’s betrayal or even against load shedding. But how is this justified by turning ones guns against the innocent kids who are in no way directly or indirectly responsible for any of these unfair actions.

How is banning of Polio drops to the kids going to make a difference to the drones? Is it not akin to hitting your own foot with an axe, crippling yourself even more, making your own children, who are the youth of tomorrow, be burdened with more illhealth and handicap? How will this help them stop drone attacks, or generate more electricity or prevent more Dr Afridis being recruited?

How are risking one’s own children to a crippled life, a way of avenging the atrocities of the aggressors?

As said by a twitter friend: “Taliban want to kick US outta Afghanistan/Pakistan but they never know kicking with polio affected legs is quite impossible ‪#PolioBan‬”

No atrocity is large enough to avenge the innocent kids, be they are from any ethnic community or faith or nationality. And to our horror, the Taleban are putting to risk their very own kids.

A tweep justifying the Polio ban remarks: “But people from your profession (referring to Dr Afridi) for betraying the Polio campaign”.

Does one or a few insincere health professionals justify you to make your own children risk being crippled with Polio. Who are you hurting by this? The health professionals or your own kids?

They argue the drones kill more children than from Polio? Yes this is true, and killing of children by drones is criminal like risking the health of innocent children by Polio ban is criminal too. They harm and kill your children, but you in return risk crippling your own children. Is there any commonsense in this logic?
Those who continue and justify drones by all means, will they stop by your threat of Polio ban? Who will it hurt the drones or your own kids?

Or is it because this is the easiest way out, to kick out the unarmed sincere medical personnel, and lash out at unaware innocent children, both of whom will not be able to defend back, this extremely  unfair decision, with equal force.

As a medical professional, I can only scream loud and cry that they have no right to aggressively jeopardise the health of the innocent, at the cost of another aggression.

Which sect of Islam, or which moral value of humanity or which aspect of the hospitality of the large hearted tribals justify for avenging a wrong action with usurping the rights of the meek and the powerless , innocent kids?

Avenging an injustice, by risking the health and crippling your own children for life?
What kind of courage and valour is this?

I am aghast to see that there are educated on Twitter who are justifying‪ the polio vaccination ban, what to talk of those who give it a silent support. ‪

Polio vaccination ‬ campaign should not be used as a shield against drones. It wont help, but be counterproductive. Will it harm the aggressors or the innocent Pakistani kids?

Polio isn’t petty politics for which politicians, civil society, liberals or conservatives, or general public should not speak up. For the health of Pakistani kids, and for the sake of humanity, please speak up.

I beg you all, please speak up against the Polio Vaccination ban.

This appeal was in response to this news :

http://articles.cnn.com/2012-07-17/asia/world_asia_pakistan-taliban-polio-vaccine_1_polio-vaccines-polio-campaign-drone-strikes