Tuesday, 29 September 2015


In the wake of emerging lifestyle diseases like diabetes, heart diseases, overweight and obesity, people have become more conscious on the nutrition label of the food they eat.

Eggs or no eggs is a controversial matter. traditionally, eggs were labelled to have adverse health effect in human body because of its cholesterol content. According to Harvard School of Health, an egg a day does not have adverse health effects in normal population.

Eggs are incredibly nutritious. 

100 grams of hard boiled chicken egg is loaded with:-
Calories.................. 155Kcal
Carbohydrates........ 1.12g
Fats........................ 10.6g
Vitamin A, B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, B12, D, E and K
Minerals like calcium, zinc, sodium, potassium, iron

Eggs and cholesterol

Daily cholesterol requirement is 300mg per day. An egg yolk contain more than two-thirds of the daily cholesterol requirement. Eating food rich in cholesterol does not mean that it is going to be absorbed and raise the blood cholesterol level. According to Harvard Medical School, most of the cholesterol that circulates in blood is synthesized by the liver rather than from the food eaten. In an interview, Walter Willett -chair of Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health- denotes that if dietary cholesterol was raised to one hundred percent, only ten percent will reach blood for use.

Eating an egg a day will not affect cholesterol level significantly for a normal individual unless one takes them in excess. Diabetics and people with high blood pressure may have problem controlling their blood cholesterol level hence should be cautious with eating eggs. 

100 grams of an egg contains 10.6g of fat. 27% of the total fats in an egg are saturated fatty acids which may have more negative implication than the cholesterol itself. According to American Heart Association, eating food rich is saturated fatty acids makes the liver synthesize more cholesterol.

Eggs and your health- Harvard Health Publications,Harvard Medical School. Address: http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/eggs-and-your-health.
The entire egg- Harvard Gazette. address: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/02/the-entire-egg/
Saturated Fats -American Heart Association. Address: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/02/the-entire-egg/
Eggs and Heart diseases- Harvard T.H Chan, School of Public Health. Address: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/eggs/
Eggs (food)- Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Address: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_(food).

Thursday, 24 September 2015


In the recent past, cholesterol has gained bad reputation due to its associated prevalence of high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, diabetes mellitus and others. But do you know without cholesterol life would come to an halt? Cholesterol is good to the body just like other nutrients but the secret behind it is to keep healthy numbers.

Cholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance which is primarily synthesized by the liver. Dietary supply is also a major source of cholesterol in the body. Eating food with high level of cholesterol results into down-regulation of the endogenous production of cholesterol in the liver.

According to American Heart Association, eating food with high content of saturated fats and trans fats makes the live synthesize more cholesterol.

Cholesterol functions to:-   
  • Maintaining the cell membrane integrity (cell membrane integrity in animal cells disregards the need for cell wall unlike in plant cells)
  • Cholesterol functions in cell signaling,conduction of nerve impulses and transport within the cell.   
  • Bile is a derivative of cholesterol and is used in digestion and absorption of fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E, K 
Cholesterol is transported in the body by lipoprotein. Two main types of lipoprotein exist:-
  • Low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol- It carries cholesterol from the liver to the body cells. It is also called bad cholesterol as it is associated with formation of plague which lines the inner layer of blood vessels.
  • High density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol- It carries cholesterol from the body cells back to the liver for excretion from the body. High levels of HDL-cholesterol is said to be good. 
 High level of LDL-cholesterol is not healthy. It leads to cholesterol being deposited along the inner lining of small arteries forming plaque which narrows and eventually may occlude flow of blood. The dark side of this phenomenon is when blood supply to the vital organs is occluded. For instance, if arteries supplying blood to the heart muscles are occluded by plaque heart attack ensues and may threaten ones life. Similarly, stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain tissue is occluded.

Sometimes due to the turbulent flow of blood the plaque may rapture releasing minute clots to the blood or the plaque may dislodge as a whole which travels with blood and it lodges in the fine blood vessels resulting into compromised blood supply.

Risk factors to high cholesterol level. 

  • Smoking
  • Genetic factors- history of high cholesterol level in a family line is a risk factor to hypercholesterolemia
  • Dietary lifestyle- food rich in saturated and trans fats increases liver synthesis of cholesterol.

High cholesterol- NHS choices. Address:http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cholesterol/Pages/Introduction.aspx
What is Cholesterol? NHLBI. Address: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hbc
Cholesterol- Wikipedia, The free encyclopedia. Address: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cholesterol

Monday, 14 September 2015

HOW DO I KNOW I HAVE ALCOHOL USE DISORDER? Alcohol use disorder facts


There are half-truth and folk wisdom about use of alcohol like moderate alcohol intake is acceptable and may help to promote general health status while on the other hand alcohol is seen as a drug and should be avoided.[1] Alcohol has been widely used  in social, religious, medical and cultural setting [1] making it the third-most used drink after water and tea worldwide. [3]
Alcoholism or alcohol use disorder is a progressive and fatal disease characterized by alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. [1][2]

Alcohol abuse can be defined as continued drinking of alcohol in the presence of social, legal and health problems that comes as a result of drinking. An underage who partakes in drinking behavior may also be classified under alcohol abuse. [1]

Alcohol dependence is disorder in which an individual has developed both physical and psychological dependence to alcohol use. [5]

According to Centres for Disease Control and prevention, a standard drink contains:-
  • One 12-ounces of beer (5% alcohol concentration)
  • One 8-ounces of of Malt Liquor. (7% Alcohol concentration)
  • One 5-ounces of wine. (12% alcohol concentration) 
  • One 1.5-ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits or liqour. (40% Alcohol concentration) [7]
 Moderate drinking- not more than one drink for a woman and not more than two drinks for a man in a day. [7] Moderate alcohol intake has been linked with health promoting properties. It is associated with lowered risk of cardiovascular diseases and promotes insulin sensitivity in the tissue lowering risks to type 2 diabetes mellitus. [8]

Tolerance- is a way of brain adaptation to chronic alcohol use. The brain becomes less sensitive to the effects of alcohol and more alcohol is required to produce inebriation. A reverse tolerance to alcohol may ensue due to damage to the liver by chronic alcohol use. [6] Alcohol is primarily metabolized in the liver [2] and in the presence of liver damage, a small amount of alcohol produces rapid rise in blood alcohol level and rapid state of insobriety. [6] 

According to National institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one may be diagnosed with alcoholism or alcohol use disorder if two or more of these criteria are fulfilled twice in one year:-

  • Drinking higher volume of alcohol or taking much more time drinking alcohol than intended.
  • One endeavors or wishes to stop or cut down on alcohol use but is unsuccessful. 
  • One spends much time looking for alcohol, drinking it and even recovering from its effects.Bezzaire desire for alcohol. 
  • One may continue the drinking habit despite the harm it poses to work, family, his health state or school program. 
  • Drinking or health effect of alcohol interferes with ones ability to assume responsibilities at home, work or school.
  • Drinking makes one cut down on chores that were of importance or interest or one no longer finds pleasure in activities found enjoyable previously. 
  • Drinking makes one engage in activities that impose harm to self like drunk driving, unsafe sex e.t.c.
  • One continues to drink alcohol despite the knowledge of being ill.
  • Drinking much higher volume of alcohol than before in order to be drunk.
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms precedes alcohol abstinence with resultant reinstatement. [4]

1. National Institute of Health (US); Biological Svoences Curriculum Study. NIH Curriculum Supplement Series (internet) Bethesda (MD); National Institute of Health (US) 2007 -Information about Alcohol.
Address: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK20360/.
2. The definition of alcoholism. The Joint Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence and the American Society of Addiction Medicine to Study the Definition and Criteria for the Diagnosis of Alcoholism -PubMed-NCBI. Address:http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1501306. By Morse RM, Flavin DK. 1992 Aug 26th.
3. Alcoholism -Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Address: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcoholism. Last edited: 03/07/2015 by Doc James.
4. Support and Treatment- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Address: http://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/support-treatment.
5. Alcohol Dependence -wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Last edited: 20th May, 2015 by Doc James. Address:https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_dependence. Viewed on 13/07/2015.
6. Alcohol Tolerance -wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Last edited on 10th June, 2015 by Hargup. Address:https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_tolerance. Viewed on: 13/07/2015.
7. CDC -Fact Sheets -Alcohol Use And Health -Alcohol. Address: http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm. viewed on 13/07/2015.
8. Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits | The Nutrition Source |Harvard T.H Chan of Public Health. Address:http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/alcohol-full-story/. Viewed on 13/07/2015.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015


Just to take you through a crush course of biology, human body is a complex structure with small functional units called cells that are specialized to carry out different functions. Cells which are similar structurally and in function are grouped together to form tissues and tissues form organs. Organs further group together to form systems.
By the process of mitosis, body cells replicate to form identical daughter cells. This process is called cell replication and is controlled by proto-oncogenes. Proto-oncogenes are genes found in a cell that enables normal cell growth and division.

The body has Tumor Suppressor Genes which helps to moderate the rate of cell division. They also function to get rid of old and defective cells in the body by causing programmed cell death (cell apoptosis). All this is a natural process which should occur undisturbed in order to produce a healthy and well functional body. 
On the other hand, proto-oncogenes can be activated to oncogenes which causes abnormal cell growth and division. This occur as a result of mutation in genetic make-up of the cell.
Similarly, tumor suppressor genes can also undergo mutation resulting into chaotic uncontrolled cell growth and division and the process of programmed cell death is also interrupted. When the cell apoptosis and defective cell repair is not achieved, more defective cells are produced at an alarmingly higher uncontrolled rate. This forms the basis for etiology of cancer.
There has been a rampant concern in respect to hitherto rising cases of cancer. Basically, cancerous cells are abnormal in their genetic structure resulting into uncontrolled cell growth and division.
Inherited mutated genes accounts for early onset of various cancers in life. During fertilization, the ovum fuses with a spermatozoa to form a zygote which divides and grows to form an embryo. Embryo further divides and grows to form a fetus then child. If the initial ovum or sperm or both had mutated, each cell which forms from these parent cells has the mutated gene in it and may require only few mutations to form cancerous cell. This is the reason as to why genetically predisposed cancers tend to occur early in life. Adopting a healthy lifestyle has a diminutive effect on early onset of cancer cases in subjects who are genetically predisposed.
According to American Cancer Society, "tobacco smoke is a mixture of gases and particles. It contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds. More than 250 of these chemicals are known to be harmful, and at least 69 are known to cause cancer." 
Mainstream smoke (exhaled by smoker) is less harmful than side stream (from lit cigarette) smoke. This translates to higher health risks to non-smokers who are closer to smokers but at the same time it doesn't exonerate the smoker from the said risks.
Smoking and exposure of non-smokers to cigarette smoke increases the risk of cancers of lungs, stomach, reproductive system and leukemia.

Both high frequency and low frequency magnetic radiations have been linked with increased risk to cancer. High frequency magnetic radiations are like X-rays, gamma rays, UV rays. They are also called ionizing radiations with ability to cause cell mutation at genetic level. This can lead to formation of cancer cells. 

Cell phones, computers, microwaves, radio and TV transmissions are low-frequency transmissions, non-ionizing and will not cause damage to the genetic material of the cell though this claim has not been fully substantiated.
The WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer in their press release raised concern that, some form of non-ionizing radiation like these may have some form of biological effects that may result in cancerous cell transformation. 

Ethanol (an active component of alcohol) and acetaldehyde (ethanol by-product) are both toxic to the body and carcinogenic.  
According to National Cancer Institute, the more alcohol an individual consumes, the more the risk of developing alcohol-associated cancer like cancer of the mouth, esophagus, head, liver (common), colorectal and breast. 
Alcohol also increases the level of endogenous estrogen in the body which has been implicated with cancer of the breast, uterus and ovary. 
These oncogenic biological agents have a propensity to initiate the process of cancerous cell formation. They enter the human cell and cause changes in the structure of the DNA leading to mutation. A repeated damage to the cellular DNA structure may lead to cancerous cell transformation with time.
  • Stomach cancer- associated with infection with Helicobacter pylori which is also the major risk factor to development of stomach and duodenal ulcers. People with stomach and/or duodenal ulcer should also be tested for H.pylori infection in order to take a prompt action by initiating treatment.
  • Hepatocellular (liver) cancer- is linked with hepatitis B and C infection. 
  • Cancer of the cervix- infection with Human papilloma virus (HPV) increases it risk. HPV infection increases the risk of genital warts, anal cancer. 
  • Urinary bladder cancer- linked with Schistosoma hematobium infestation.
According to National Cancer Institute, obesity is associated with increased risks of certain cancers to include cancer of "esophagus, pancreas, colon and rectum, breast (after menopause), endometrium (lining of uterus), kidney, thyroid, gall bladder." 
Obese people have high amount of fat under the skin which has been implicated to produce excess estrogen in the body. High amounts of estrogen in the body increases the risk of estrogen responsive cancers of the breast and endometrium common post-menopausal women. 
With aid of research, there is also a substantial body of evidence that obesity increases the risk of developing of certain tumors in the body. Obese people have a higher metabolic rate with insulin levels higher than that of non-obese individual. They also have insulin like growth factor and all this compounds to increase the risk of certain tumors in the body.
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Chemical inhalations e.g in rubber industry. 
  • Vehicle exhaust especially Diesel engines
  • Asbestos, arsenic, formaldehyde.

The chemistry of life- Ross and Wilson textbook of Anatomy and Physiology in health and illness. 10th Edition, 2006 by Ann Waugh, Allison Grant.
Press release: International Agency for Research on Cancer declares second-hand smoke carcinogenic to humans. May 2004- World Health Organization. Viewed on Jan 2015.
Secondhand smoke -American Cancer Society, Revised Nov 2014.
A review of human carcinogens-part D: radiations- The Lancet Oncology.
Alcohol and cancer risk-National Cancer Institute. Viewed on Jan 2015.
A review of human carcinogens- part B: biological agents-The Lancet Oncology.
Obesity and Cancer risks-National Cancer Institute At the National Institute of Health. Viewed in Jan 2015.  

Tuesday, 1 September 2015


Overweight and obesity can simply be defined as weight that is more for certain height.

Body mass index (BMI) is an index used to establish if an individual is overweight or obese. BMI is calculated as weight in kilograms against height in square meters. It can be used as a predicting tool for health risks that an overweight or obese is predisposed to.

Overweight have a BMI which ranges between 25 to 29.9. An obese person has a BMI that is equal to or greater than 30.

Despite the fact that BMI is a good tool to estimate body fat, it also has a dark side of it. It is not a reliable tool to estimate health risks in people who are more muscular, athletes and those who have advanced in age.

Putting those factors into consideration, BMI can be used to predict health risks that one may be predisposed to like heart diseases and type 2 Diabetes mellitus. The more the BMI, the higher the health risks.

Health risks associated with overweight and obesity includes:-

Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus -people who are overweight and obese have an existing degree of insulin resistance in which the body cells doesn't respond appropriately to the insulin produced by the pancreas. Since the body cells are not able to utilize the sugar in the blood, the pancreas responds by producing more insulin in order to lower the blood sugar. This compensatory mechanism continues until the pancreas can not keep up with the body's insulin demand leading to diabetes.  

Cardiac diseases -as the body mass index increases so does the risks to coronary heart diseases, high blood pressure, heart failure and stroke. People who are overweight and obese are at risk of high level of bad cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) and triglycerides level which increases the risks of heart diseases.

Osteoarthritis -Overweight and obese individual may have some deficit in walking, climbing up hill, sitting off the toilet, alighting from a car and others. This is because their weight is more than what their body should have. Due to excess weight which is directed more to the lower limb joints like the knee, the joints starts to wear out and eventually becomes stiff and painful. This is called osteoarthritis and is more prevalent in obese people.
Cancer -Overweight and obese individual are at risk of cancer of esophagus, pancreas, colon, rectum, kidney, gall bladder and reproductive system cancers like breast and endometrial cancers. 

Gall bladder stones -The liver produces bile which consists of cholesterol, bile salts and bilirubin. Bile is stored in the gall bladder awaiting to be released to aid in digestion. Any imbalance in these constituents of the bile may cause formation of gall bladder stones. Being overweight or obese put one at throes of developing high cholesterol levels which is a risk factor to developing gall bladder stones.
Obesity hypoventilated syndrome (OHS) -This is a breathing problem prevalent on obese individuals characterized by low oxygen and high blood carbon dioxide concentration in the blood. Individuals with OHS may have daytime sleepiness, headache, poor sleep quality and depression. 

Infertility in women -According to WebMD, obese women who are at risk of developing infertility regardless of the fact that they may be ovulating well. This phenomenon is not clearly understood but it is thought that hormone leptin which controls appetite in an individual (high in obese) may impede successful fertilization. People had a maxim that obese women who were ovulating well may not have problem with infertility but it is not the case now. It further indicates that obese women of fertility drugs required higher dose than normal weight women.

What is overweight and obesity? National Institute of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Viewed at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/heath/health-topics/topics/obe/risks. Viewed on 06/06/2015.

Overweight and obesity, Definition of overweight and obesity. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. Viewed at: http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/definition.html. Viewed on 6/6/2015.

Assessing your weight and health risk- National Institute of Health, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Viewed at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/risk.htm. viewed on: 08/06/2015.

Healthy weight, the health effects of overweight and obesity- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Viewed at: http://www.m.cdc.gov/en/HealthSafetyTopics/HealthyLiving/HealthyWeight/HealthEffects. Viewed on 07/06/2015.

Obesity's effects on bones and joints- by Stephen P. Makk, M.D., M.B.A, published on March/April 2007. Viewed at: http://www.lbjs.net/pdf/KHWDrMakkWeb.pdf. Viewed on 08/06/2015.
Causes of Diabetes -NIDDK. Address: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/causes-diabetes/Pages/index.aspx. Edited: June, 2014
What are the health risks of overweight and obesity? -NHLBI, NIH. Address: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/obe/risks Last update: July 13yth, 2012.
Obesity and cancer risks -National Cancer Institute. Address: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/obesity-fact-sheet. Last update: Jan 3rd, 2012.
Gallstones -NIDDK. Address: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/gallstones/Pages/facts.aspx. Last update: Nov 27th, 2013.
Obesity Hypoventilation Syndromee (OHS) -MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Address: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000085.htm. Last edited: 08/25/2014.
Obesity linked to infertility in women -WebMD. Address: http://www.webmd.com/infertility-and-reproduction/news/20071211/obesity-linked-to-infertility-in-women. Last edited: 2007.