Medicinal Uses of Honey.

What researchers are learning about honey’s possible health benefits.

Honey has a long medicinal history. The ancient Egyptians not only made offerings of honey to their gods, they also used it as an embalming fluid and a dressing for wounds. On that last point, at least, they were on to something.

Today, many people swarm to honey for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Holistic practitioners consider it one of nature’s best all-around remedies.

But outside of the laboratory, claims for honey’s healthfulness are unproven — except in the area of wound care and, to a lesser extent, cough suppression.

Here’s the truth behind the claims about honey’s health benefits — and an important warning.

Honey is natural and considered harmless for adults. But pediatricians strongly caution against feeding honey to children under 1 year old.

“Do not let babies eat honey,” states, a web site of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

That’s because of the risk of botulism. The spores of the botulism bacteria are found in dust and soil that may make their way into honey. Infants do not have a developed immune system to defend against infection, says Jatinder Bhatia, MD, a Georgia neonatologist who heads the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Nutrition.

“It’s been shown very clearly that honey can give infants botulism,” a paralytic disorder in which the infant must be given anti-toxins and often be placed on a respirator in an intensive care unit, he says. Bhatia has never seen a case of infant botulism.

But parents may feed their infants cereals that contain honey, he says. “It’s cooked, so it’s OK,” Bhatia says. He explains that when it comes to botulism risk, “we’re talking about honey out of the bottle.”

The National Honey Board, which the USDA oversees, also agrees that infants should not be given honey. “The concern for babies stems from the fact that infants lack the fully developed gastrointestinal tract of older humans,” the Board’s web site states.

In the laboratory, honey has been shown to hamper the growth of food-borne pathogens such as E. coli and salmonella, and to fight certain bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, both of which are common in hospitals and doctors’ offices. But whether it does the same in people hasn’t been proven.

Shop for honey and you’ll see that some are lighter, others are darker. In general, the darker the honey, the better its antibacterial and antioxidant power.

Honey comes in many varieties, depending on the floral source of pollen or nectar gathered and regurgitated by the honey bee upon arrival in the hive.

Manuka honey is sometimes used to treat chronic leg ulcers and pressure sores.

Manuka honey is made in New Zealand from the nectar of Leptospermum scoparium. It’s the basis of Medihoney, which the FDA approved in 2007 for use in treating wounds and skin ulcers. It works very well to stimulate healing, says wound care specialist Frank Bongiorno, MD, of Ann Arbor, Mich.

“Medihoney has been our standard for healing wounds in the past year, since it started coming on the market,” Bongiorno says. A healing wound, whether chronic or acute, is a clean, granulating wound that is absent of bacteria and swelling. Bongiorno doesn’t use Medihoney for burns because it can cause pain.

Bongiorno has visited Haiti, where people use ordinary honey for wounds, and although it isn’t harmful, it doesn’t have the impact of Medihoney, which is purified with ultraviolet light rather than heat. Its antibacterial action is better preserved, he says.

That, of course, is useful in treating wounds, but it is Manuka honey’s pH content, which leans toward acidic, that helps the healing process, says Bongiorno, who has no ties to Medihoney’s maker. “It is soothing and feels good to the wound.”

Honey and Allergies

Some laboratory studies suggest honey has the potential to clear up stuffy noses and ease allergies triggered by pollen. But it’s a bit of a stretch to apply that to patients, says New Jersey allergist Corinna Bowser, MD.

Bowser says she doesn’t consider the studies on honey and congestion to be adequate, for a few reasons: most allergy sufferers are sensitive to wind-carried pollens like grass and ragweed — the kind not carried by bees and transformed into honey.

“If you want to treat someone for common allergies, it’s not commonly found in bee honey,” Bowser says.

“Even if there are allergens in the honey, it wouldn’t make a difference, because it gets broken down by stomach acids and doesn’t trigger an immunological response,” Bowser says. In contrast, “The pills we take for allergies are coated so they don’t get broken down,” she says.

Honey and the Common Cold

Maryland family doctor Ariane Cometa, MD, who describes herself as a holistic practitioner, likes to use a buckwheat honey-based syrup to ease early symptoms of a cold. She says it calms inflamed membranes and eases a cough — the latter claim supported by a few studies.

In a study that involved 139 children, honey beat out dextromethorphan (a cough suppressant) and diphenhydramine (an antihistamine) in easing nighttime cough in children and improving their sleep.

Another study involving 105 children found that buckwheat honey trumped dextromethorphan in suppressing nighttime coughs.

“If you’re suffering from a cold or something going on in the throat or upper airways, getting on board with honey syrup will help fight infection and soothe membranes,” says Cometa, who also recommends a buckwheat honey-based allergy medicine.

Even if honey is natural, it is no better than ordinary white or brown sugar for dieters or people with diabetes, says dietitian Toby Smithson, RD, CDE, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and founder of the web site, Diabetes Everyday.

A tablespoon of honey, in fact, has more carbohydrates and calories than granulated white or brown sugar.

“One of my favorite quotes is that ‘a sugar is a sugar’ when it comes to diabetes,” Smithson says. “I think it’s a widespread myth that honey is better for diabetes. Some patients don’t classify honey as a sugar.”

Smithson, who has type 1 diabetes, says she prefers getting carbs from a cup of fresh berries or a carton of yogurt because they have about the same number of carbs as a tablespoon of honey — but less sugar.

“There are some minerals and vitamins and antioxidant properties in honey — the darker the honey, the higher the level of antioxidants — but with yogurt, you can also get those benefits. When you have diabetes, you have to be picky and choosy about carbs and calories.”




Smoking During Pregnancy May Damage Children’s Blood Vessels.

Yet Another Reason Not to Smoke During Pregnancy

If women didn’t already have enough reasons to quit smoking before pregnancy, here’s a big one: Smoking during pregnancy may set their child up for blood vessel damage, a new study shows.

Dutch scientists enrolled more than 250 children. When the children were 4 weeks old, their body dimensions and lung function were measured. At the same time, their parents completed questionnaires about such factors as smoking during pregnancy.

When the children were 5, the researchers used ultrasound to measure the thickness and flexibility of their carotid arteries, large blood vessels in the neck that supply blood to the brain. They also collected updated smoking information from their parents.

The walls of the carotid arteries in 5-year-olds whose mothers had smoked throughout pregnancy were about 19 microns thicker — about one to two times the thickness of a piece of cassette tape — and 15% stiffer than those whose mothers had not smoked.

If both parents smoked while they were in the womb, the children’s carotid arteries were nearly 28 microns thicker and 21% stiffer than those of children whose parents didn’t smoke during pregnancy. These changes may indicate damage to blood vessels that may affect their function, the study authors suggest.

The scientists did not find an effect if only the father smoked during the pregnancy, or if the mother hadn’t started smoking until after giving birth.

The challenge there was to show that it was really smoking in pregnancy” and not exposure to cigarette smoke afterward, researcher Cuno Uiterwaal, MD, PhD, says in an email to WebMD. “To further explore that, we did this study.”

Uiterwaal, an associate professor of clinical epidemiology at the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care at the University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands, says, “with our findings, we think that smoking in pregnancy does play an independent role, although we know that exposure of children to [secondhand] smoke is damaging in many areas.”

“Smoking in pregnancy is bad for many reasons for the mother and certainly also for the child,” Uiterwaal says. “Our findings may well be another argument to quit during pregnancy. Many women do quit as soon as they know they’re pregnant, but not all do.”

An accompanying editorial notes than nearly 1 in 5 U.S. adults smoke, and more than half of children show biochemical evidence of exposure to secondhand smoke. “There is no known safe level of exposure,” write authors and pediatricians Susanne Tanski, MD, MPH, of Dartmouth College and Karen Wilson, MD, MPH, of the University of Rochester.

Uiterwaal’s study, Tanski and Wilson write, “provides one more piece of evidence for the importance of smoking cessation, in particular, among families with young children and those planning to have children.”


What is total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio? What is a desirable ratio?

The total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol ratio is a number that is helpful in predicting an individual’s risk of developing atherosclerosis. The number is obtained by dividing the total cholesterol value by the value of the HDL cholesterol. (High ratios indicate higher risks of heart attacks, low ratios indicate lower risk).

High total cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol increases the ratio, and is undesirable. Conversely, high HDL cholesterol and low total cholesterol lowers the ratio, and is desirable.

An average ratio would be about 4.5. Ideally we want to be better than average if we can. Thus the best ratio would be 2 or 3, or less than 4.

Another ratio is LDL/HDL. The LDL/HDL ratio is actually a purer ratio than total cholesterol/HDL, because LDL is a measure of “bad’ cholesterol and HDL is a measure of “good” cholesterol, whereas the total cholesterol is the sum of HDL, LDL, and the VLDL. Adding up the values for the HDL, LDL and VLDL makes up the total cholesterol measurement.

Even though the total cholesterol/HDL ratio is not as accurate or pure as the LDL/HDL ratio, the former is more commonly obtained because the total cholesterol is easier and cheaper to obtain than the LDL cholesterol level.

It is important to remember that even with a favorable ratio; we have learned that it is still important to try to obtain an LDL of less than 80-100, regardless of the HDL value, especially in the presence of multiple other risk factors for coronary artery disease (genetic predisposition, tobacco use, hypertension, and diabetes). In patients with known coronary artery disease (history of bypass surgery, stents, or PTCA), an LDL of less than 80 is extremely desirable.

Source: webMD blog.


Kraft uses Intel technology in vending machine to target customers by age.

In a clever mix of technology and marketing, Kraft Foods has teamed up with Intel to create a vending machine, called the iSample, that can dispense free pudding samples to adults only; it’s intended target audience for its new product. The result is a machine currently in place at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Patrons who approach the machine are scanned, and if deemed old enough, are urged to use their smart phone to type in or swipe a code that then allows the assumed grown-up to pick a flavor, which is then dropped down for them to grab and eat. All for free. If a kid tries to do the same, they are denied a free sample and asked to step aside so that a deserving adult can get a treat.

The vending machine doesn’t take a photograph, it simply scans a person’s face, using some type of optical sensor, processes the information it finds, such as the distance between the eyes, nose and ears, and then makes an age estimation that it uses to allow or deny a free treat.

The partnership between Kraft and Intel has apparently been ongoing for a couple of years as Kraft seeks new ways to grab the attention of customers and Intel works out real world ways to differentiate people from one another. As with most such ventures, the first such product, a similar scanning machine that could suggest an entire meal for someone based on gender, size and age, was deemed too ungainly. The new machine currently being used by passing adults at the aquarium is apparently just the right size and in addition to its technical abilities also employs a bit of humor, brushing children aside as if they were little more than pests.

The new vending machine also appears to be a glimpse of things to come, as other companies are most assuredly working on similar technology, all aimed at selling more products to a cooperative public. Thus, in addition to television, radio, animated billboards and Internet advertising, we will all likely soon be subjected to various machines studying our bodies and faces to discover clues about our gender, age, race, health and perhaps level of wealth based on our clothing, so that those that wish to sell us things can be more discriminating in their advertising. All thanks to both investments in technology and the willingness of the public to give up some bit of their privacy in exchange for the reward of a simple sweet treat.


Morning flu jabs ‘work better for men’.

Flu jabs can be made more effective by changing the time of day they are given – mornings for men and afternoons for women are best – scientists believe.

Synchronising the jab with the body’s natural daily cyclical rhythm makes it more likely to offer good immunity, says the University of Birmingham team.

The immune system gets sluggish as we age which explains why only a third of elderly people vaccinated get full protection from their winter flu vaccine.

Rescheduling appointments may help.

To test their theory, the researchers are using GP patients in Birmingham as guinea pigs.

Three hundred of them will be given morning or afternoon vaccination appointments, determined by their gender.

We know that immunity goes down with ageing. But this work may have found a way to counter that”

Professor Janet Lord University of Birmingham

Dr Anna Phillips, who is leading the research, said: “The biggest effect we found was that men had a much stronger antibody response when they had the flu jab in the morning, meaning they would be better protected against flu

“The reason behind this is likely to be due to an interaction between the hormones and immune system messengers that fluctuate throughout the day, and sex hormones. We are now testing several potential candidates to try to understand this effect better.

“If this works, it would be such an easy intervention to improve protection against infection in older adults.”

Dr Phillips and her team hope to get a definitive answer by studying at least 300 elderly patients attending for their routine flu vaccinations this winter and next.

“We’ve already made a start and hope to get enough patients on board to be able to see if such a simple, cheap measure of changing appointment times can make all the difference.”

Professor Janet Lord, an expert in on healthy ageing, said: “It’s a major health issue trying to find ways to improve the vaccination response.

“We know that immunity goes down with ageing. But this work may have found a way to counter that.”

Source:BBC medicine update.

Progenitor Cell Mobilizing Treatments Prevent Experimental Transplant Arteriosclerosis.

Vascular rejection after organ transplantation is characterized by an arterial occlusive lesion, resulting from intimal proliferation occurring in response to arterial wall immune aggression. Our hypothesis is that an early endothelial repair may prevent vascular graft rejection. The aim of the current study was to compare different pharmacologic progenitor cell mobilizing treatments for their protective effects against vascular rejection.

Methods and Results

Aortic transplants were made from balb/c donor to C57Bl/6 recipient mice. Three different mobilizing pharmacologic agents were used: low molecular weight fucoidan (LMWF), simvastatin, and AMD3100. The circulating levels of progenitor cells were found to be increased by all three treatments, as determined by flow cytometry. For each treatment, the design was: treated allografts, nontreated allografts, treated isografts, and nontreated isografts. After 21 d, morphometric and immunohistochemical analyses were performed. We found that the three treatments significantly reduced intimal proliferation, compared with nontreated allografts. This was associated with intimal re-endothelialization of the grafts. Further, in chimeric mice that had previously received GFP-transgenic bone marrow transplantation, GFP-positive cells were found in the vascular allograft intima, indicating that re-endothelialization was, at least partly, due to the recruitment of bone marrow-derived, presumably endothelial progenitor circulating cells.


In this aortic allograft model, three different mobilizing treatments were found to partially prevent vascular transplant rejection. Bone marrow-derived progenitor cells mobilized by the three treatments may play a direct role in the endothelial repair process and in the suppression of intimal proliferation.

Source:Journal of Surgical Research.






Penile Cancer

 The penis is the external genital organ of a man. It is made up of three chambers of spongy tissue that contain smooth muscle and many blood vessels and nerves. The corpora cavernosa makes up two of the chambers that are located on both sides of the upper part of the penis. The corpus spongiosum is located below the corpora cavernosa and surrounds the urethra, the tube through which urine and semen leave the body at an opening called the meatus. At the tip of the penis, the corpora cavernosa expands to form the head of the penis, or glans.

About penile cancer

Cancer begins when normal cells change and grow uncontrollably, forming a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous, meaning it can spread to other parts of the body). Penile cancer is a rare form of cancer that occurs mostly in uncircumcised men (men who have a foreskin, the piece of skin covering the head of their penis). Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin and may reduce the risk of penile cancer.

Types of penile cancer

There are several types of penile cancer, including:

Epidermoid/squamous cell carcinoma. Ninety-five percent (95%) of penile cancer is epidermoid, or squamous cell, carcinoma. This means that the cells resemble the tissues that make up skin when looked at with a microscope. Squamous cell carcinoma can begin anywhere on the penis; most develop on or under the foreskin. When found at an early stage, epidermoid carcinoma can usually be cured.

Basal cell penile cancer. Under the squamous cells in the lower epidermis (one of the layers of the skin tissues that cover the penis) are round cells called basal cells. These can sometimes become cancerous. This is also called non-melanoma skin cancer. Less than 2% of penile cancers are basal cell cancers.

Melanoma. The deepest layer of the epidermis contains scattered cells called melanocytes, which make the melanin that gives skin color. Melanoma starts in melanocytes, and it is the most serious type of the skin cancer. This cancer sometimes occurs on the surface of the penis. Learn more about melanoma.

Sarcoma. About 1% of penile cancers are sarcomas, which are cancers that develop in the tissues that support and connect the body, such as blood vessels, smooth muscle, and fat. Learn more about sarcoma.





Hereditary Pancreatitis

Hereditary pancreatitis (HP) is a condition associated with recurrent pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and an increased risk of pancreatic cancer.

Cancer begins when normal cells begin to change and grow uncontrollably, forming a mass called a tumor. A tumor can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous, meaning it can spread to other parts of the body).

In people with HP, the first episode of pancreatitis usually occurs in childhood. However, the age when symptoms start and the severity can vary widely among people with HP, even within the same family.

What causes HP?

HP is a genetic condition. This means that the risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer can be passed from generation to generation in a family. The gene associated with HP is called PRSS1. A mutation (alteration) in the PRSS1 gene gives a person an increased risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Mutations in two other genes, called SPINK1 and CFTR, have also been linked to HP; however, it is unknown if mutations in these genes cause an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Researchers believe that other genes may be associated with HP, and studies are ongoing to learn more about this condition.

How is HP inherited?

Normally, every cell has two copies of each gene: one inherited from the mother and one inherited from the father. HP follows an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern, in which a mutation needs to happen in only one copy of the gene for the person to have an increased risk of getting that disease. This means that a parent with a gene mutation may pass along a copy of their normal gene or a copy of the gene with the mutation. Therefore, a child who has a parent with a mutation has a 50% chance of inheriting that mutation. A brother, sister, or parent of a person who has a mutation also has a 50% chance of having the same mutation.

How common is HP?

The specific incidence of HP is unknown. HP is estimated to account for about 3% to 6% of all pancreatitis cases.

How is HP diagnosed?

The diagnosis of HP is considered when two or more close family members (parents, siblings, or children) in at least two generations have recurrent pancreatitis. Genetic testing for mutations in the PRSS1, SPINK1, and CFTR genes is available for people who may have HP.

What are the estimated cancer risks associated with HP?

The risk of pancreatic cancer in people with HP has been estimated to be up to 40%.

What are the screening options for HP?

Screening for pancreatic cancer is suggested for people known to have HP. However, the effectiveness of current screening techniques for the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer is not proven. Available screening options include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT or CAT) scan of the pancreas
  • Endoscopic ultrasound (a thin, lighted tube is guided into the esophagus through the mouth, and a transducer sends out sound waves that can identify if a tumor is present.)
  • Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP) (an endoscope is passed into the small intestine through the mouth and stomach. A catheter (smaller tube) is passed through the endoscope and into the bile ducts and pancreatic ducts to look for cancer.)
  • Blood test for CA19-9 level (a test to detect a protein found to be elevated in the blood of some people with pancreatic cancer.)

Screening options may change over time as new technologies are developed and more is learned about HP. It is important to talk with your doctor about appropriate screening tests.

Questions to ask the doctor

If you are concerned about your risk of pancreatic cancer, talk with your doctor. Consider asking the following questions of your doctor:

  • What is my risk of developing pancreatic cancer?
  • What can I do to reduce my risk of cancer?
  • What are my options for cancer screening?

If you are concerned about your family history and think you or other family members may have HP, consider asking the following questions:

  • Does my family history increase my risk of developing pancreatic cancer?
  • Should I meet with a genetic counselor?
  • Should I consider genetic testing?



Food Safety During and After Cancer Treatment

Food safety is important for people who are receiving or recovering from cancer treatment. Cancer and cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and bone marrow transplants, can weaken the immune system, making it harder for your body to fight infection. This effect lasts until at least a few weeks after treatment ends, sometimes longer.

Foodborne illness (also called food poisoning) occurs when you eat food that has harmful bacteria, parasites, or viruses. Foodborne illness can be severe and sometimes fatal. It is most often severe if the person has a weak immune system or is very old, very young, or pregnant.

Raw foods are a common cause of foodborne illness. Proper cooking destroys bacteria, but they can grow on cooked food if it is left out too long. Some bacteria, such as Listeria, can grow even on foods stored in the refrigerator, with time. Food also can become contaminated when someone infected with a virus (often a norovirus) or other “bug” handles it.

If you are receiving, or recently finished, cancer treatment, pay close attention to food safety rules, such as washing your hands. Be extra careful when handling, preparing, and storing food, and avoid some foods entirely, even if you may have eaten them with no problem in the past. Talk with your doctor about how long you should take food precautions and when you may return to eating certain foods again.

Foods to avoid

Some foods have a higher risk of food poisoning. Here are some foods that can become tainted with bacteria, such as Listeria (causing an infection called listeriosis), E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Vibrio, in addition to Toxoplasma, a parasite.

  • Cold hot dogs or deli lunch meat (cold cuts)—always cook or reheat until the food is steaming hot
  • Dry-cured, uncooked salami
  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk and milk products, including raw milk yogurt
  • Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, such as blue-veined (a type of blue cheese), Brie, Camembert, feta, goat cheese, and queso fresco or blanco
  • Cold smoked fish
  • Deli-prepared salads with egg, ham, chicken, or seafood
  • Refrigerated pâté
  • Unwashed fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Unpasteurized fruit juice or cider
  • Raw sprouts, such as alfalfa sprouts
  • Raw or undercooked beef, especially ground beef, or other raw or undercooked meat and poultry
  • Raw or undercooked shellfish (such as oysters)—these items may carry the hepatitis A virus and should be cooked thoroughly to destroy the virus
  • Some types of fish, raw or cooked, as it may contain high levels of mercury
  • Sushi and sashimi, which often contain raw fish—commercially frozen fish (especially those labeled “sushi-grade” or “sashimi grade”) is safer than other fish, but check with your doctor before eating these foods
  • Undercooked eggs, such as soft boiled, over easy, and poached; raw unpasteurized eggs, or foods made with raw egg, such as homemade raw cookie dough

Simple steps for food safety

Think about your water source. Some sources of water may have bacterial and chemical contamination. Well-water may have bacterial contaminants. Community-supplied tap water is adequate for healthy individuals, but it is not tested for safety for people with weak immune systems. A water filter that removes spores and cysts, in addition to trace organics and heavy metals, is recommended for food preparation and drinking. There are many such filters for sale in stores.

Cleaning up. Wash your hands and the counter or surface where you prepare food often, using hot water and soap. Also, clean the top of cans before opening them. Rinse fresh produce under running water, and dry it with a clean towel or paper towel. Hard fruits and vegetables, even those labeled “organic,” should be lightly sprayed with a vegetable cleaning soap before washing them, and rinsed well. When washing your hands, rub them together for 20 seconds and pay special attention to areas between fingers and under nails.

Prevent cross-contamination. Keep raw meat, poultry, and fish or their juice away from other food since bacteria can spread, causing cross-contamination. Wash all items you used for raw foods (utensils, cutting board, plate, and so on) before using them for other foods or for the cooked meat. It is ideal to use a separate cutting board that is used only for preparing uncooked meat and chicken, and is never used for uncooked foods, fruit and vegetables. Don’t rinse raw meat or poultry because it could spread bacteria to nearby surfaces and foods.

Cook food to the right temperature. To make sure cooked food is done, use a food thermometer. Check for a safe internal temperature of all poultry and meat, not just roasts. For instance, a hamburger should be cooked to at least medium (160°F). Get a full list of recommended internal cooking temperatures.

Chill food promptly. Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within two hours of cooking or buying it (sooner in warm weather).

Thaw food properly. Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature. You can also thaw food in frequently changed cold water or in the microwave, but cook it as soon as it thaws.

Dispose of old food. Eat canned and packaged food before its expiration date (“use by” or “best before” date). Consume refrigerated leftovers within four days. After that time, throw out the food. Even if food does not smell or look spoiled, it may still be unsafe.

Take precautions when eating out. At restaurants, avoid buffets and salad bars, where food sits out a long time and comes into contact with many people. And, if you take home leftovers, put the food in a “to-go” container yourself, rather than having the server do it.

Symptoms of foodborne illness

Symptoms differ depending on the pathogen, or bug, that causes the illness. Most often, symptoms are like those of a stomach “flu” (virus).

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain or cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever

Sometimes a headache and muscle pains also are present. E. coli usually does not cause a fever, and diarrhea often is bloody.

The time when symptoms begin can vary widely, from a few hours to 10 days after eating the tainted food, or even later. With Listeria, symptoms may not start until a few weeks later. But with most foodborne illnesses, people start feeling sick in the first day or two after infection.

When you suspect foodborne illness

Call your doctor right away if you think you have food poisoning. Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Because people with cancer are at increased risk of severe illness, early treatment is important.

If you became ill due to eating food at a public place, call your local health department. By reporting it, you may help prevent other people from getting sick.




MUGA Scan—What to Expect

A multigated acquisition (MUGA) scan checks to see if your heart is pumping blood properly. Other names for this test include cardiac blood pooling imaging, nuclear heart scan, nuclear ventriculography, and radionuclide ventriculography. Some people with cancer receiving chemotherapy may need to have this test during their cancer treatment. Survivors of childhood cancer who have had radiation therapy to the chest, spine or upper abdomen; a bone marrow/stem cell transplantation, or chemotherapy with anthracyclines may also need a MUGA scan as part of their follow-up care.

Anthracyclines are a type of chemotherapy that can damage the heart and its ability to pump blood to the rest of your body. Examples of anthracyclines include daunorubicin (Cerubidine, Rubidomycin), doxorubicin (Adriamycin), and epirubicin (Ellence).

Heart damage from chemotherapy can lead to fluid buildup in your body, causing a condition called congestive heart failure (CHF). People with CHF may experience swollen hands and feet, shortness of breath, dizziness, and an irregular heartbeat.

Before starting chemotherapy and throughout your treatment, your doctor may want to perform a MUGA scan. A MUGA scan checks for:

  • Your heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of your body
  • The size of the ventricles (the two lower chambers that hold blood) in the heart
  • Any abnormal movement of blood through the heart

About the procedure

A MUGA scan is much like a computed tomography (CT) scan, and is performed by a nuclear medicine or radiology technician at a hospital. In most cases, the test does not require you to stay in the hospital overnight. During the test, a small amount of a radioactive material, called a tracer, is injected into a vein, usually in your arm. This material is much like a dye and binds to your red blood cells (blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body), making it easier to see how blood moves through your heart. After you have received the tracer, you will lie on a table and the technician will put a gamma camera (a special camera that uses gamma rays together with a tracer) above you and take pictures of your heart.

Questions to ask your doctor

Before you have a MUGA scan, consider asking your doctor the following questions:

  • Why are you recommending this procedure?
  • Who will perform the MUGA scan?
  • What will happen during the procedure?
  • How long will it take?
  • Will I feel any pain during the procedure?
  • What are the risks of having a MUGA scan?
  • What if I don’t have this procedure?
  • When will I find out the results?
  • Who will explain the results to me?
  • If my results are abnormal, what is the next step?
  • Will I have to repeat this test during my treatment?

Conditions that affect the procedure

There are some conditions that can affect the results of your MUGA scan, or may prevent you from having the scan. These include:

  • Pregnancy–A MUGA scan involves a small amount of radiation which does not harm you, but may harm a developing baby.
  • A fast, irregular heartbeat
  • Being obese
  • Heart medications, such as digoxin or nitrates
  • Recent nuclear tests, such as bone or thyroid scans
  • Inability to lie flat or still during the test, which causes blurry images

If you have any of these conditions, talk with your doctor before the procedure. Be sure to also tell your doctor about any prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, because some of them may affect the results of the test.

Preparing for the procedure

Before having a MUGA scan, your doctor will provide you with specific instructions on how to prepare for the test. These may include:

  • Not eating or drinking anything for four to six hours before the test
  • Avoiding caffeine and tobacco for four to six hours before the test
  • Wearing comfortable clothing if your test includes exercise

During the procedure

A MUGA scan may take up to two to three hours to complete; however, it may take less time depending on how many pictures are needed. You will be asked to lie on a table beneath the camera, and stickers called electrodes will be placed on your chest to monitor your heart’s electrical impulses during the test. The camera, which is about three feet wide, will then be placed close to your chest. After positioning, the technician will inject the tracer intravenously (IV). You may feel some mild pain when the IV is inserted. As the tracer moves through your bloodstream, the gamma camera will take pictures to see how well the blood is pumping through your body. Many different views will be taken, and each one takes about five minutes. You will be asked to lie very still during the test, because any movement may cause the images to be blurry.

While having a MUGA scan, you may be asked to exercise in between pictures. This helps the doctor see how your heart responds to the stress of exercise. During the test, you may also be asked to take nitroglycerin (multiple brand names; a drug that opens your blood vessels) to see how your heart responds to the medication.

After the procedure

After the MUGA scan, you will be able to leave the examination room right away. You may have to wait in the hospital for the images to be processed, and if they are blurry you may have to repeat the scan. Drink plenty of fluids and urinate frequently for one to two days after your test so that all of the tracer leaves your body.

Results of the procedure

Normal results of the MUGA scan mean that your heart is pumping blood efficiently throughout your body. A result of 45% or higher is normal. An abnormal result can mean blockage in an artery, poor pumping function, heart valve disease, or other disorders. If you have an abnormal result, your doctor may decide to switch treatments or give you a different type of chemotherapy.