Tag Archives: Functional magnetic resonance imaging


Renal cancer diagnosis

Renal cancer diagnosis: Physical exam and tests

Renal cancer diagnosis

Renal cancer diagnosis. With all the indicators the presence of kidney cancer symptoms like physical pain on your side

With all the indicators the presence of kidney cancer symptoms like physical pain on your side, unexplained weight loss, or extreme fatigue. Or during your routine medical checks your doctor may have found a lump in your side or seen a sign of kidney cancer during a test for another disease. Those are good indicators, but regardless of all, doctor Dalal Akoury MD, President and founder of AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center reiterates that, to ascertain the true renal cancer diagnosis, going through a thorough physical exam, health history, and tests will be essential.

Renal cancer diagnosis: Possible kidney cancer disease tests

During your routine checks, your doctor will feel your abdomen and side for lumps and check for fever and high blood pressure, among other things. He/she will also ask questions about your health habits, any past illnesses, and types of treatment if any. But for the assurance, your doctor will make a diagnosis of kidney cancer depending on one or more tests like these:

A CT scan that uses X-rays and a computer to create a series of detailed pictures of your kidneys which may require the use of an injection of dye. CT scans have virtually replaced pyelogram and ultrasound as a tool for diagnosing kidney cancer.

Blood tests to show how well your kidneys are working.

Intravenous pyelogram (IVP) involves X-raying your kidneys after the doctor injects a dye that travels to your urinary tract, highlighting any tumors.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) uses strong magnets and radio waves to create detailed images of soft tissues in your body. You may need an injection of a contrast agent to create better pictures.

Renal arteriogram. This test is used to evaluate the blood supply to the tumor. It is not given often, but may help diagnose small tumors.

Ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of your kidneys. It can help tell if a tumor is solid or fluid-filled.

Urine tests check for blood in your urine or other signs of problems.

Unlike with many other cancers, your doctor may be pretty certain about a diagnosis of kidney cancer without a biopsy. Sometimes, a biopsy will be done to confirm the diagnosis. A doctor may use a needle biopsy to remove a sample of tissue, which is then examined under a microscope for cancer cells. The biopsy may also tell the grade of the cancer how aggressive the cancer is likely to be. Often the surgeon will simply remove the entire tumor and then have a sample of tissue examined.

Finally, once your doctor makes a diagnosis of kidney cancer, you may need other tests to tell if the cancer has spread within your kidney, to the other kidney, or to other parts of your body. When cancer spreads from the place where it first started, it has metastasized. You might need a CT scan or MRI. A chest X-ray can show whether the cancer has spread to your lungs. A bone scan can see if it is in your bones. All these tests are done to help determine the stage of kidney cancer.

Renal cancer diagnosis: Physical exam and tests



Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s: An Argument for Periodic Treatment

Parkinson's DiseaseParkinson’s disease is one of the most common neurodegenerative disorders that have affected many people around the world and is still doing what it does best; debilitating its victims. The treatments that many patients have been subjected to only target the symptoms of the disease, some of which are eradicated but as for others the patients have to go for the treatments periodically to suppress the pain and severity of the symptoms of PD. There are various ways of treating those suffering from Parkinson’s disease; however it is recommended that a person should begin treatment as soon as he or she is diagnosed with the disease, lest it becomes a hard nut to crack. The tremors may become too severe if treatment is begun too late.

As opposed to other diseases whose causes are still a mystery, the cause of this disease is now known. Parkinson’s disease is caused by the continued loss of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. Dopamine is an essential brain chemical that helps to regulate movement and emotional responses among other cognitive functions.

Dopamine deficiency is the salient feature of those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The disease kills the dopamine producing nerve cells in the substantia nigra. The disease affects the substantia nigra in a way that it elicits the problems associated with reasoning, movement, sleeping and motivation. This disease is also linked to the formation of alpha-synuclein- these are clumps of proteins in the brain. These clumps of proteins only worsen the condition of the patient. It is the continuous death of the nerve cells in the substantia nigra that results in the patients developing tremors and rigidity as well as slowed movements. Other symptoms include; dementia, depression, insomnia, constipation and loss of balance. Dementia is usually suffered at later stages, a critical stage in which the damage has spread to the rest of the body.

Treatment of Parkinson’s disease with dopamine boosting drugs

As stated earlier the cause of PD is depletion of dopamine at the substantia nigra. Owing to this fact, doctors have been treating those suffering from PD with dopamine boosting drugs. These drugs help in elevating the levels of dopamine in the brain and so make up for the depleted dopamine. The most common of all the dopamine level boosting drugs is the levodopa. This drugs works in a way that it boosts level of dopamine as it turns into dopamine while in the body. It crosses the blood-brain barrier and is considered the most effective drug for PD. however this drug may not work efficiently without an enzyme inhibitor known as carbidopa as it will be broken down by blood enzymes before it reaches the brain. The enzyme inhibitor also prevents levodopa from being metabolized in the gastroinstenal tract, liver and other tissues thus more of it reaches the brain.

When used alongside carbidopa, the dosage needed to treat symptoms will be reduced and is the side effects like vomiting and nausea that are mostly suffered as a side effect of the drug. It will in turn reduce stiffness, tremors and slowness among other symptoms. It is however important to note that levodopa only addresses the symptoms but neither restores the normal release of dopamine nor slows the progression of the disease.

Levodopa never heals the damaged neurons but rather stands for the dopamine lost, it is therefore not targeted to heal the patient but rather to mitigate on the effects of the disease. therefore other therapies that may help ease the side effects of the drug as well as promote healing should be given due considerations by the patients and their doctors. Dieting may help improve dopamine levels in the brain naturally. There are scenarios when a patient will have to undergo surgery which may include deep stimulation with implanted electrodes.

Need for a lasting cure

Parkinson,s DiseaseJust like other neurodegenerative diseases the need for proper treatment must involve a therapy that will focus more on healing the damaged nerves and neurons as opposed to simply mitigating on the symptoms. Drugs or treatments that mitigate on the symptoms become a part of a person’s life as they have to undergo treatment periodically. In the end the use of levodopa may even result in a condition known as Dyskinesia. Doctors have been working on the viability of stem cell therapy in treatment of this disease. The treatment will targets the special features and abilities of the stem cells to form all cells of the body, the stem cells can be used to help in repairing the damage on the neurons producing dopamine and restore the normal levels of dopamine in the brain.

There are research findings that have elicited hope for those suffering from this disease as there has never been a treatment that fully heals those suffering the disease, it is hoped that the stem cell therapy is going to be a lasting solution.

For more information on viability of stem cell therapy in treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, visit www.awaremednetwork.com Dr. Dalal Akoury, an expert in integrative medicine will be of help. You can also check: http://www.integrativeaddiction2015.com to be up to date with the upcoming Integrative Addiction Conference 2015. The conference will equip you with knowledge on the unique approaches of telling addiction symptoms as well as how to help addicts.

Parkinson’s: An Argument for Periodic Treatment



Food addiction

Food addiction-Fighting food addiction

food addiction

food especially sugar is becoming the biggest luring substance to food addiction

There is one common addiction for all mankind, we are all in one way or the other addicted to food. Visualize how it feels like when you aren’t able to eat. You will probably start to crave for food, and become more physically and emotionally uncomfortable. The longer the cravings go on for, until eating becomes the most important thing for you to do. This is the constant experience of people struggling with food addiction, even if they have plenty to eat.

However food is essential to survival, and unlike other addictive behaviors, it is normal to eat repeatedly every day, and to look forward to eating for pleasure. But several characteristics separate normal or occasional binge eating from a food addiction.

The first point, food addiction is maladaptive, so although people overeat to feel better, it often ends up making them feel worse, and gives those more to feel back about. Food addiction can threaten health, causing obesity, malnutrition, and other problems.

The second point, the overeating that people with food addiction do is persistent, so a person addicted to food eats too much food and most of the time it’s the wrong kinds of food taken repeatedly. Everybody overeat from time to time, but people with food addiction often overeat daily, and they eat not because they are hungry, but as their main way of coping with stress.

The Controversy of Food Addiction

As behavioral addictions, the concept of food addiction is a controversial one. Opinions differs between those who think that overeating can be a type of addiction, and those who think that true addictions are limited to psychoactive substances which produces symptoms such as physical and withdrawal. Although this has been demonstrated in research with sugar and fat (the two most common obesity-causing constituents of food), and other studies show that food produces opiates in the body, many think that this does not necessarily constitute an addiction.

However, the growing epidemic of obesity over the past years has raised public health concern. In almost all US states, one in five adults are obese. Childhood obesity was ranked as the top health concern for children in 2008, higher than either drug abuse, rated second, or smoking rated third, both of which were ahead of obesity in 2007.

This concern, along with effective treatments for addictions, which are being successfully applied to more and more problematic behaviors, is contributing to a movement towards understanding over-eating, and the consequences of obesity and related health problems, in terms of addiction.

Food addiction is now included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), named as Binge Eating Disorder, and categorized with the Eating Disorders. Excessive eating is also a characteristic of another eating disorders outlined in the DSM, known as Bulimia Nervosa. Some controversy remains over whether eating disorders are actually addictions, but many experts believe that they are.

Food Addiction like Other Addictions

There are several similarities between food addiction and drug addiction, including effects on mood, external cues to eat or use drugs, expectancies, restraint, ambivalence, and attribution.

Neurotransmitters and the brain’s reward system have been implicated in food and other addictions. In animal studies, for example, dopamine has been found to play an important role in overall reward systems, and binging on sugar has been shown to influence dopamine activity.

Food, drugs and other addictive substances and behaviors are all associated with pleasure, hedonism, and social, cultural or sub-cultural desirability. When advertising or the people around us tell us that a food, drug or activity will feel good, it sets up a self-fulfilling prophecy. We are more likely to seek it out, and we are more likely to experience pleasure when we indulge.

Food addiction and Mental Health

Similarities between food addiction and other addictions suggest a universal process underlying food and other addictions. Some experts go further, theorizing that overlaps, similarities, and co-occurrences of mental health problems, including addictions, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders, and the phenomenon of a new addiction or mental health problem developing when an old addiction is treated, indicate that they are expressions of related underlying pathologies. It has been argued that viewing these conditions separately hinders the development of a comprehensive view of addictions.

In the study involving 39 healthy women with different weights from lean to overweight or obese, the participants were asked to complete the Yale Food Addiction Scale, which tests for signs of food addiction. Women with full-fledged eating disorders of any type were not included in the study.

Then, using fMRI, researchers led by Yale’s Ashley Gearhardt and Kelly Brownell looked at the women’s brain activity in response to food. In one task, the women were asked to look at pictures of either a luscious chocolate shake or a bland, no-calorie solution. For another brain-scan task, women actually drank the shake made with four scoops of vanilla Häagen-Dazs ice cream, 2% milk and 2 tablespoons of Hershey’s chocolate syrup or the no-calorie control solution, which was designed to be as flavorless as possible (water couldn’t be used because it actually activates taste receptors).

The scientists found that when viewing images of ice cream, the women who had three or more symptoms of food addiction things like frequently worrying about overeating, eating to the point of feeling sick and difficulty functioning due to attempts to control overeating or overeating itself showed more brain activity in regions involved with pleasure and craving than women who had one or no such symptoms.

These areas included the amygdala, anterior cingulate cortex and medial orbitofrontal cortex — the same regions that light up in drug addicts who are shown images of drug paraphernalia or drugs.

Similar to people suffering from substance abuse, the food-addicted participants also showed reduced activity in brain regions involved with self-control (the lateral orbitofrontal cortex), when they actually ate the ice cream.

In other words, women with symptoms of food addiction had higher expectations that a chocolate shake would be yummy and pleasurable when they anticipated eating it, and they were less able to stop eating it once they started.

Interestingly, however, unlike drug addicts, the participants with more signs of food addiction did not show a decrease in activity in pleasure-related regions of the brain when they actually ate the ice cream. People with drug addictions tend to derive less and less pleasure from drug use over time — they want drugs more but enjoy them less, creating compulsive behavior. But it’s possible that this tolerance may be seen only in serious addictions, not in people with just a few symptoms.

Notably, the study also found that food addiction symptoms and brain responses to food were not associated with weight: there were some overweight women who showed no food addiction symptoms, and some normal-weight women who did.

That’s why addictions aren’t simple: they involve variations not only in levels of desire, but also in levels of ability to control that desire. And these factors may change in relation to social situations and stress.

Neither heroin nor Häagen-Dazs leads to addiction in the majority of users, and yet there are certain situations that may prompt binges in people who otherwise have high levels of self-control. So the answers to addiction may lie not in the substances themselves, but in the relationship people have with them and the settings in which they are consumed.

Food addiction-Fighting food addiction




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