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Health Capsules: Nov. 7

Kindness … it does a body good

World Kindness Day on Nov. 13 reminds people of the many benefits of doing good deeds, no matter how small.

World Kindness Day will be celebrated this year on Nov. 13. On that day, people in the U.S. and around the globe are asked to attempt to make the world a better place by doing and promoting good deeds and pledging acts of kindness, either as individuals or as organizations. 

In addition to its obvious benefits for the mind, heart and spirit, kindness has been shown in multiple studies to benefit the body as well. In adults, it has been shown to increase overall physical well-being while decreasing pain, anxiety levels and blood pressure. In children, making conscious efforts to be kind is also related to increased physical well-being as well as greater peer acceptance, a more positive self-image and even academic success. 

World Kindness Day was first launched in 1998 by The World Kindness Movement, an organization formed at a Tokyo conference of like-minded organizations from around the world. More than 28 nations are now involved in this annual observance, which is not affiliated with any particular religion or political point of view. 

At a time when kindness, and even basic civility, often seem to be the exception rather than the rule, World Kindness Day represents an opportunity to highlight the kindness that does still exist, carry out random acts of kindness ourselves, and commit to being kind more frequently. 

New outbreak of Salmonella caused by raw chicken products

Proper handling of raw chicken is especially important due to a recent nationwide outbreak of illness caused by Salmonella.

According to an Investigation Notice published in late October by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], a recent nationwide outbreak of illness has been traced to Salmonella Infantis bacteria found in a variety of raw chicken products. 

As of Oct. 17, 92 people infected with the outbreak strain had been reported in 29 states, including Missouri. Of those who have become ill, 21 people have been hospitalized to date, but no deaths have been reported.

The CDC’s evidence indicates that many types of raw chicken products from a variety of sources may be contaminated with Salmonella Infantis. In interviews, people who have become ill reported eating different types and brands of chicken products purchased from many different locations.

To date, the outbreak strain has been identified in samples taken from raw chicken pet food, raw chicken consumer products, and live chickens. Evidence collected so far indicates that the outbreak strain of Salmonella might be widespread in the chicken industry rather than originating with a particular chicken supplier, according to the CDC.

In addition, antibiotic resistance testing conducted by the CDC also shows that the strain is resistant to multiple antibiotics.

With this notice, the CDC is not advising that consumers stop eating properly cooked chicken, or that retailers stop selling it. Taking the proper steps of thoroughly washing hands, utensils, counters and cutting boards when preparing raw chicken – and cooking it thoroughly to kill harmful bacteria – will effectively prevent the spread of bacteria. 

However, the agency recommends against feeding raw diets to pets. Germs like Salmonella in raw pet food can make pets sick, and family members also can be infected by handling the raw food or caring for ill pets.

Low-dose aspirin may decrease risk of two deadly cancers

The simple step of taking a baby aspirin daily possibly could lower one’s risk of two deadly types of cancer, according to new research.

Two separate studies have recently connected taking a regular dose of aspirin with a reduced risk of both ovarian cancer – the deadliest form of gynecological cancer – and the most common form of liver cancer, called hepatocellular carcinoma.

First, a new study led by researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Florida found that women who reported taking a low-dose aspirin daily – equivalent to about one baby aspirin – had a 23 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer, compared to those who did not take aspirin.  

The study included data from more than 200,000 women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Studies based at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Researchers looked at the participants’ use of standard dose aspirin [325 milligrams], low-dose aspirin [100 milligrams or less], and non-aspirin NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, and acetaminophen.

They found that low-dose aspirin use was associated with a significantly lower risk of ovarian cancer, while standard-dose aspirin use was not. At the same time, the data also showed that women who took non-aspirin NSAIDs often – at least 10 tablets per week for many years – actually had an increased risk of developing the disease.

The findings were published online in JAMA Oncology.

“We’re not quite at the stage where we could make the recommendation that daily aspirin use lowers ovarian cancer risk,” said study leader Shelley Tworoger, Ph.D. “We need to do more research. But it is definitely something women should discuss with their physician.” 

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A second long-term study of both male and female health care professionals regarding aspirin use also have linked it to a much lower risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, which accounts for about 75 percent of all liver cancers. 

The research included a combined analysis of two large studies: the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. More than 130,000 health professionals self-reported information about their aspirin use, including dosage, frequency and duration, dating back as far as 1980. Individuals with a cancer diagnosis when the surveys began [except nonmelanoma skin cancer] were excluded from the results.

A detailed analysis found that taking a standard dose [325 mg] of aspirin at least two or more times per week was associated with a large 49 percent reduction in the participants’ risk of liver cancer. This benefit was dependent on both dose and duration of aspirin use, appearing when they reported taking aspirin for five years or longer, at a dose of 1.5 or more standard tablets per week.

The authors said of their findings that use of at least 1.5 standard aspirin tablets per week may represent a feasible strategy for primary prevention against hepatocellular carcinoma. However, these potential benefits must be carefully balanced with hazards of regular aspirin use, which may include internal bleeding and stomach ulcers. 

St. Luke’s Hospital receives top cardiac surgery ranking

St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield has been named one of America’s 50 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Surgery by Healthgrades® in its 2019 nationwide survey. St. Luke’s was the only Missouri hospital to achieve this distinction. The honor places St. Luke’s among the nation’s best, for superior results in coronary artery bypass grafting procedures and heart valve surgery.

“This prestigious recognition illustrates the dedication of our entire St. Luke’s Hospital Heart & Vascular Institute team to improving the quality of life for our patients,” said Christine M. Candio, St. Luke’s president and chief executive officer. “Our alliance with the nation’s No. 1 heart hospital, Cleveland Clinic’s Heart & Vascular Institute, further demonstrates St. Luke’s commitment to excellence in heart care.”

Healthgrades is an independent healthcare ratings organization. Hospitals cannot opt out of the Healthgrades analysis, and no hospital pays to be rated. The organization’s 2019 report evaluated Medicare inpatient records from 2015 through 2017 for about 4,500 short-term acute care hospitals nationwide, and assessed each hospital’s performance related to more than 30 of the most common inpatient conditions and procedures.

On the calendar

BJC St. Louis Children’s Hospital offers a Babysitting 101 class on Saturday, Nov. 10 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.at the St. Louis Children’s Specialty Care Center, 13001 N. Outer Forty Road in Town & Country. In this introductory babysitting class, kids learn how to entertain the children in their care; topics include the business of babysitting, child development, safety and first aid, and fun and games. A workbook and snack also will be provided. The course fee is $30 per child. Registration is available online at classes-events.bjc.org. 

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St. Luke’s Hospital hosts a special event for new and expecting parents, Mom & Baby Expo: Fallin’ for Baby, on Sunday, Nov. 11 from 1-4 p.m. in the hospital’s Emerson Auditorium, 222 S. Woods Mill Road in Chesterfield. This free event featuring physician experts, informative breakout sessions, baby product vendors and more, is designed to help parents in pregnancy planning through the transition to parenthood. To register, visit stlukes-stl.com or call 314-205-6478.

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Missouri Baptist Medical Center presents a Family & Friends CPR course on Tuesday, Nov. 13 from 6:30-9 p.m. on the hospital’s campus, 3005 N. Ballas Road, on the fourth floor of the Clinical Learning Institute. This course offers instruction and hands-on practice for parents and child care providers for adult hands-only CPR; infant and child CPR with breaths; introduction to adult and child AED use, and relief of choking. Cost is $25 per person [10-15-year-olds must be accompanied by an adult]. Register online by visiting classes-events.bjc.org

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St. Luke’s Hospital presents a special free program, Mindful Eating for the Holidays, on Wednesday, Nov. 14 from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Desloge Outpatient Center, 121 St. Luke’s Center Drive in Chesterfield, in Building A. Participants will learn several techniques to help them understand their eating habits and how to modify them to reach nutrition goals while enjoying food more. To register, visit stlukes-stl.com; call (314) 542-4848 for more information.

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St. Luke’s Hospital sponsors an annual Spirit of Women event, All Decked Out, on Thursday, Nov. 15 from 5:30-8 p.m. at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, 16625 Swingley Ridge Road in Chesterfield. Before the holidays get into full swing, spend an evening enjoying appetizers, beverages, shopping, holiday mini-makeovers and tips to stay healthy through the holidays and beyond. The fee of $25 per person includes health screenings, mini-massages, a swag bag, appetizers, desserts, drink tickets and more. Visit stlukes-stl.com to register; call (314) 205-6706 for more information.

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