How Cancer Treatments Can Cause Infertility in Women

 Beating a cancer is an extraordinary piece of good new but, for some women, it is actually the beginning of another nightmare. It has been confirmed that some cancer treatments can cause infertility in women. In a chronic situation, women who are suffering from infertility will not be able to conceive and bear a child. In order to avoid this undesirable circumstance, it will be quite helpful to be aware of the possible side-effects of each of the cancer treatments that are currently in use.

           Am I Infertile?

You are possibly experiencing infertility if you have made several, serious attempts within a year to get pregnant, but all to no avail. Your doctor may diagnose you as infertile:

  • If your ovaries don’t have healthy eggs.
  • If you sustain significant damage to the other parts of the reproductive system that may hinder egg fertilization.
  • If an egg that is already fertilized cannot implant and grow inside the uterus.

How Different Cancer Treatments Can Affect Fertility in Women?

Make sure you extensively consult with your physician before eventually deciding on the most appropriate cancer treatment for you. However, highlighted below are the ways some cancer treatments can cause infertility in women:

  • Chemotherapy: It is difficult to predict that a woman may become infertile after undergoing chemotherapy. However, most chemo drugs can damage a woman’s eggs, but the efficacy of this depends on her age, the kind of drugs she takes, and the doses of such chemo drugs.

The chemo drugs most likely to cause egg damage and infertility are:

  • Busulfan
  • Carboplatin
  • Carmustine (BCNU)
  • Chlorambucil
  • Cisplatin
  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan ®)
  • Dacarbazine
  • Doxorubicin (Adriamycin®)
  • Ifosfamide
  • Lomustine (CCNU)
  • Mechlorethamine
  • Melphalan
  • Procarbazine
  • Temozolomide

On the other hand, the chemo drugs that have a low risk of damaging the eggs include:

  • 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)
  • Bleomycin
  • Cytarabine
  • Dactinomycin
  • Daunorubicin
  • Fludarabine
  • Gemcitabine
  • Idarubicin
  • Methotrexate
  • Vinblastine
  • Vincristine

Pay attention to the following warnings about chemotherapy: Don’t get pregnant shortly before, during or shortly after your chemo; it could harm your child.

  • Targeted and immune therapies: The drugs used in targeted and immune cancer therapies have not been found to pose serious infertility danger to women but with the exception of Bevacizumab (Avastin®), which can cause ovarian failure. Thalidomide and lenalidomide can cause a high degree of birth defects. Similarly, tyrosine kinase inhibitors(TKIs) like imatinib (Gleevec®) can cause birth defects.
  • Bone marrow and stem cell transplant: This therapy involves using high doses of chemo. Hence, women who are having the bone marrow and stem cell transplant may have already had their bodies invaded by too much radiation.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy involves using high-energy rays to attack cancerous cells. In this case, such radiation is capable of damaging woman’s ovaries.
  • Cancer surgery: It has been discovered that some parts of the reproductive system may be rendered useless or removed entirely during cancer surgery. For example, uterus or ovaries may be removed as part of the cancer treatment. As a result of this, it will be impossible for the affected patient/woman to be pregnant.
  • Hormone cancer therapy: A cancer-treating drug such as tamoxifen can cause a birth defect. Some hormones actually put women into a temporary menopause.

5 Recurrent Myths about Vaccines Debunked

Vaccines have helped several kids stay alive from diseases that would have claimed their precious lives. Dangerous diseases such as the Flu (Influenza), Hepatitis A & B, Measles, Polio, Mumps, Diphtheria, Whooping Cough (Pertussis), Human Papillomavirus (HPV), Chickenpox (Varicella), and so on can now be prevented or eradicated by using appropriate vaccines. Despite its usefulness since it was introduced in the 1940s, the vaccine has always been dogged by some myths, all of which have already been proved baseless or untrue through countless research and studies. Some of these recurrent myths are highlighted below:

Myth 1: Vaccines have some unsafe toxins

Even though some FDA-approved vaccines contain toxic substances such as mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, only trace amounts of these substances are used in making the vaccines. This indicates that their presence in the human body is very small and cannot pose any danger to the body. Interestingly enough, human bodies produce a higher quantity of formaldehyde than the amount used in vaccines.

Myth 2: Vaccines can cause autism

The idea that vaccines may cause autism in children was first publicized by a British Surgeon, Andrew Wakefield, in 1997. Andrew has since lost his medical license for impropriety and the journal, The Lancet, that published his findings has since been discredited for improper medical procedures. Recent studies have shown that autism actually develops in the utero, long before the child was born or given any vaccinations.

Myth 3: A vaccine can infect my child with the disease it is trying to fight

Some parents worry that vaccines may infect their children with the same diseases they are fighting. This is not true; it takes one in a million cases for that to happen! Vaccines may cause mild symptoms that may appear like those of the diseases they try to combat. But those mild symptoms should not be considered as a sign of infection. What actually happens in this situation is that those mild symptoms indicate that the vaccinated child’s immune system is responding to the vaccines and not to the diseases.

  Myth 4: Infant immune systems can be overwhelmed by vaccines

Many parents wrongly believe that their infant child immune system may not be able to handle so many vaccines at the same time. This is a baseless argument. Theoretically, a baby can respond to about 10,000 vaccines at one time. Even if 12-14 vaccines are scheduled at once, this will only use up 1.4% of the baby immune system.

Myth 5: Natural immunity versus vaccine-acquired immunity

Some people believe that natural immunity may be better than vaccine-acquired immunity. This may be true to some extent, but its benefits are far less than its possible dangers. Take for instance, if a parent expects his/her child to recover naturally from measles, such a child has 1-in-500 chance of dying. However, when vaccines are used, the child has a one-in-a-million chance of dying from the severe allergic reactions caused by the MMR vaccine.

My baby and vaccines

Make sure you consult your doctor before, during, and after surrendering your baby for vaccinations. It is helpful to be fully aware of all the necessary procedures that will help your child recover completely from its illness.

Lupus: 6 Important Facts You Need to Know

Lupus has no cure, and it is a chronic inflammatory disease you have when your tissues and organs are attacked by your body’s immune system. Some people are born with a greater possibility of developing lupus than the others. And the inflammations caused by lupus can affect several organs or systems in your body, such as liver, heart, lungs, kidneys, joints, blood cells, brains, and skin.

Symptoms of lupus

Sometimes it is difficult to diagnose if someone is having lupus or not. This is because lupus exhibits symptoms that are very similar to other diseases, as highlighted below:

  • Having chest pain
  • Experiencing fever and fatigue
  • Having dry eyes
  • Experiencing shortness of breath
  • Incessant joint pain, swelling, and stiffness
  • Having a memory loss, headaches, and constantly feeling confused
  • Having skin lesions that seem to worsen when exposed to the sun
  • Fingers and toes turning white or blue when exposed to stress or cold
  • Having butterfly-shaped rash on your face that spreads from the cheeks to your nose’s bridge

Causes of lupus

On most occasions, the cause of lupus is unknown, but some people who inherited lupus gene may develop it when there are sudden changes in their environments. Generally, lupus may emerge when exposed to the following conditions:

  • Infections: It is possible for certain infections to bring up lupus.
  • Medications: Some blood pressure, antibiotics, and anti-seizure medications can trigger lupus.
  • Exposure to sunlight: Lupus skin lesions may surface due to the excessive exposure to the sun. Or the lesions may appear in some internal parts of your body.

              Some risk factors

The following factors may increase your risks of developing lupus:

  • Age: Despite affecting people of all ages, lupus is commonly diagnosed between the age of 15 and 40 years old.
  • Race: African-Americans, Asian, and Hispanics are more susceptible to lupus than people from other races
  • Gender (Sex): Lupus is more common in women.

                     Complications arising from lupus

Lupus may lead to any of these health complications:

  • Causing kidney failure and problems
  • Leading to headaches, behavioral changes, dizziness, strokes, and hallucinations when lupus affects one’s brain and nervous system
  • Increasing bleeding problem and risk of anemia
  • Making breathing difficult owing to an inflammation of the chest cavity lining (pleurisy), and causing people to be susceptible to pneumonia
  • Increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, because of the inflammation of the heart muscle
  • Increasing the risk of cancer
  • Leading to pregnancy complications
  • Increasing the vulnerability of people to other infections
  • Causing the death of the bone tissue

Testing and diagnosing lupus

It may be misleading to only consider the physical symptoms of lupus because other diseases have similar signs. However, there are three categories of tests that can be carried out on people to detect if they have lupus or not:

  • Laboratory tests: These include:
  • Complete blood count
  • Erythrocytes sedimentation rate
  • Urinalysis
  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA) test
  • Kidney and liver assessment
  • Imaging tests: These include:
  • Echocardiogram
  • Chest x-ray
  • Biopsy: This test provides better information on how far lupus has been affecting a patient’s kidney. A sample of the person’s kidney tissue is required to complete this test.

               Treatments for lupus

Your lupus will be treated based on your symptoms. Your doctor will determine which medications are the most appropriate for you. Sometimes as your health improves, the medications may have to be changed to other ones. Make sure you are constantly discussing the progress of your recovery with your doctor. In most cases, lupus can be treated with any of these medications based on the patient’s symptoms:

  • Antimalarial drugs
  • Immunosuppressants
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Corticosteroids

How Women Can Prevent Hair Loss

Losing one’s hair, as a woman, is not fun or something desirable at all. Up till today, hair loss has been mostly linked to aging—that is, as one gets older, it is indispensable not to lose some strands of one’s hair. However, there are other factors responsible for hair loss against which every affected woman can take conscious steps to prevent.

Causes of hair loss

It is very helpful for you to be aware of the primary causes of hair loss so that you can do everything in your power to fight it. You may lose your hair due to:

  • Genetic factor: It may be in your genes that you will surely lose some of your hair. This condition is referred to as androgenetic alopecia. You can confirm this by merely looking at either of your parents’ hair, noticing any gradual falling off of their hair.
  • Lifestyle choice: Your lifestyle choice may also result in you losing some strands of your hair. If you put pressure on your hair with hairstyles such as braids that are tight or cornrows, they may pull off your hair one at a time. This condition is referred to as traction alopecia. Similarly, the kinds of dyes, brushes, towels or chemicals you use to treat your hair before and after the shower may lead to gradual hair loss.
  • Medical conditions: You may lose some of your hair if you are suffering from any of the following medical conditions: Stress, thyroid disorders, menopause, ingesting too much of Vitamin A, psoriasis, anemia, pregnancy, weight loss, or seborrheic dermatitis.

How you can prevent hair loss

  • Embracing a lifestyle that will not put any pressure on your hair or tightly pulling them out
  • Using a topical medication to treat hair loss. Minoxidil, also known as Rogaine, is the only FDA-approved medication for treating hair loss for women. It is used once a day, and it works by elongating the growth phase of your hair. This medication has been adjudged to be successful by many women who have patiently used it.
  • An iron supplement may be used if your doctor found out that you have low levels of ferritin (a protein that acts as the reservoir for body iron).
  • Hair transplantation may be used, which involves taking tiny hair follicles from one area of your scalp and transplanting them into the affected areas. This may be a permanent solution to your hair loss.

Your dermatologist should be able to identify the main cause of your hair loss and proffer useful solutions. Sometimes, you may be losing your hair because of some other health issues or conditions you are yet to diagnose. This is why it is advisable that you work with your doctor as early as possible.