Another reason to exercise every day during the holidays

William B. Farquhar, Professor at University of Delaware shares how daily exercise can prevent high blood pressure–a primary health concern for Hispanic and Latino populations. 

Yes, of course we all know we should exercise every day during the holiday season to help counter the onslaught of excess calories that started on Thanksgiving and will mercifully end with a New Year’s toast.

We may even tire of hearing about exercise and weight from family, friends and the media. But an equally important reason to exercise every day is related to blood pressure, not waistline.

As a physiologist who has studied exercise and health for over 20 years, I can tell you that exercise lowers blood pressure – and does so right away.
Whether you go for a daily run or brisk walk, every time you finish exercising your blood pressure goes down, and stays down for many hours, which is good for your overall health. Here’s why.

Immediate drop in blood pressure occurs

The immediate blood pressure lowering effect of exercise is referred to as “post-exercise hypotension,” and many studies have shown that blood pressure declines 5 to 7 mmHg after every exercise session. The mechanisms responsible for lowering blood pressure immediately after exercise are not fully understood, but involve dilation of the blood vessels. Whatever the precise cause, this phenomenon is clearly beneficial.

During exercise the opposite occurs, blood pressure actually increases dramatically. Why? We are hardwired to exercise. When we exercise, our working muscles need oxygen-rich blood. Our brain signals the heart to increase blood flow and blood pressure rises. Systolic blood pressure (top number) can exceed 180 mmHg during hard exercise.

This sounds like a crazy-high number, and it would be if a reading like this were taken while seated, but it is not unusual during strenuous exercise. High blood pressure values during exercise are offset by the many low values recorded after exercise, to the benefit of the body.

high blood pressure, hypertension

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Why worry about blood pressure? Simply put, high blood pressure (i.e., hypertension) kills. It is estimated that hypertension is a primary or contributing cause of death of more than 400,000 Americans annually. Estimates suggest that one billion people worldwide have hypertension. Here in the U.S., one-third of the population is hypertensive, and these numbers are projected to rise 7 percent by 2030. This is not just a concern for older adults – one estimate suggests that 19 percent of young adults have hypertension.

Hypertension increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and kidney disease. The societal costs of hypertension are astronomical. When you consider the cost of health care services, medications and missed days of work, estimates suggest that hypertension costs the U.S. US$46 billion per year. Often, there are no signs or symptoms of hypertension, which is why it is referred to as the “silent killer.” Even among adults who have been diagnosed with hypertension, nearly half do not have it under control despite taking medications. Needless to say, anything you can do to lower your blood pressure will lower your risk of disease.

Great news: You don’t have to spend hours on this

As my colleagues and I point out in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, exercise guidelines for those with hypertension emphasize the importance of daily or near-daily exercise to lower blood pressure. While the guidelines focus on those diagnosed with hypertension, daily exercise can benefit everyone.

To some, daily exercise may seem onerous, but the good news is that the exercise need not be intense or lengthy – moderate intensity exercise such as brisk walking for 30 minutes will lead to reductions in blood pressure. There is even evidence that short exercise bouts throughout the day (e.g., 10 minutes, three times per day) can lower blood pressure.

The bottom line is that exercising every day (and obviously eating less) will help prevent holiday weight gain, but an equally important benefit of daily exercise is lower blood pressure.The Conversation

You might be interested: Start the conversation about Latino health concerns this Family Health History Day 


William B. Farquhar, Professor of Kinesiology & Applied Physiology, University of Delaware

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Start the conversation about Latino health concerns this Family Health History Day 

Did you know, Thanksgiving is also National Family Health History Day? Officially designated as such in 2004 by the surgeon general, this day is dedicated to learning your family health history and starting conversations about the topic with your loved ones. 

Knowing your family health history is important and can help you prevent and watch for certain health risks that may run in your family.  It’s especially important to know your family health history when it comes to diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. These diseases are often inherited and knowing your family health history can help you be aware and take preventive measures. By knowing your health risks, you can make lifestyle changes and screen for illnesses before they happen. 

Additionally, some of these diseases can also skip generations. You may think you have a pretty good understanding of your family’s health history, but usually this only includes one or two generations that you have known in your lifetime. Asking grandparents about their parents and other relatives will help give a fuller picture of what health risks may run in your family and what diseases may pop up again after skipping generations. 

Starting these conversations with family members may be hard, but they are necessary not only for your health but for the health, but for the health of everyone in your family and of future generations. 

Common Latino and Hispanic health concerns 

For Latino and Hispanic families, some health concerns you may want to look out for include: high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, cancer, and heart disease. 

According to the CDC, heart disease and cancer in Hispanics are the two leading causes of death, accounting for about 2 of 5 deaths. Statistically, Latinos are more likely to suffer from heart disease and on average, Hispanic women at risk of heart disease are likely to develop the condition 10 years earlier than non-Hispanics according to data from Go Red for Women

Other health concerns that Latinos and Hispanics should discuss with family members are chronic liver disease, chronic kidney diseases, and strokes. 

Data shows that Hispanic Americans have twice the rate of chronic liver disease compared to non-Hispanic whites and are more likely than whites to die of chronic liver disease. 

Hispanics are also 1.5 times more likely to have kidney failure compared to other Americans, and 20 percent of people on the kidney transplant waiting list are Hispanic. 

Getting the conversation started

To get started talking about your family health history with your loved ones, begin by asking questions. The CDC outlines questions you can use to get the conversation started such as: 

  • Do you have any chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, or health conditions, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
  • Have you had any other serious diseases, such as cancer or stroke? What type of cancer?
  • How old were you when each of these diseases or health conditions was diagnosed? (If your relative doesn’t remember the exact age, knowing the approximate age is still useful.)
  • What is your family’s ancestry? From what countries or regions did your ancestors come to the United States?
  • What were the causes and ages of death for relatives who have died?

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

After asking these questions, record the information and update it as you learn more about your family health history. 

The CDC offers a free web-based tool called My Family Health Portrait, to help you organize the information. My Family Health Portrait also allows you to share this information easily with your doctor and other family members.

Once you have collected this information, you can then discuss these concerns with your doctor and make plans for screening tests and other examinations. 

Start the conversation this Thanksgiving with your loved ones and help each other learn more about your family health history to keep each other healthy for years to come!

vegan diet

Latinas shift to vegan diet, improving focus and productivity at work

It’s no secret that what we eat impacts how we perform. The types of food we consume contributes to our mood, energy levels, and productivity. As part of World Vegan Month this November, we are diving into the benefits of a vegan diet. 

In general, plant-based eating can improve one’s health, it’s typically more affordable, and much more eco-friendly. In fact, a vegan diet uses much fewer resources, requiring five times less water than producing animal-based foods. 

For the Latinx population specifically, it has been found that diet-related health issues common within the community can be reduced through plant-based eating. 

Latinx and Hispanic individuals are more prone to health risks such as high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Statistically, Latinos are also more likely to suffer from heart disease

Transitioning to a vegan diet, or simply incorporating more plant-based meals into one’s existing diet, can significantly help to reduce these health risks. Affordability also makes veganism an attractive alternative, especially for middle- to lower- income communities. 

“It’s much more cost-effective to prepare plant-based dishes using rice, beans, and vegetables than it is to feed one’s family using animal products,” said holistic nutritionist and bilingual foodie writer, Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, in an article with VegNews

Currently, about 3 percent of Latinos in the U.S. are vegetarian or vegan, according to the Vegetarian Resource Group. This number is close to the national average for adults: 3.5 percent for females and 3.2 percent for males. 

In fact, for many Mexican-Americans, a vegan diet is not far off from what their ancestors once ate in pre-Columbian times, according to NPR. Many traditional dishes by indigenous natives were plant-based. The meats we think of today as traditional to Latinx dishes–beef, bork, chicken, lamb–were brought over by the Spaniards. 

Boosting your productivity at work through plant-based eating 

In a study conducted by City Pantry on healthy eating habits, experts weighed in on how foods affect our levels of productivity and focus. 

According Dr Uma Naidoo – board-certified psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and nutrition specialist – reducing inflammation is key to keeping energy and productivity levels up during the workday. 

“Low-grade inflammation flips off a metabolic switch in the chemical pathway that produces energy,” she said. “When inflammation is present in the body, less energy is available to the brain, so it’s important to eat anti-inflammatory foods to ensure workers wake up in a good mood and stay energized and focused through the entire morning.”

Foods to avoid are those high in artificial sweeteners, added and refined sugars, trans fats, and processed meats and cheeses. 

Plant-based foods are associated with lower levels of inflammation, which means incorporating more vegan options into your diet can improve your energy and focus throughout the day. 

You might be interested: 10 Snacks to boost productivity and get you through the work day

There is no one way to approach veganism and many often transition into the diet slowly. Others may choose to only eat plant-based on certain days, such as the Instagram account Meatless Mondays, which encourages people to swap out meat at least one day a week and provides a variety of fun and fresh meatless meals to try.

To start incorporating some vegan meal choices into your diet to boost your productivity, Dr. Naidoo recommends focusing on foods with natural fats such as nuts, avocados, and extra virgin olive oil.

 “Fat is a key component for mental health. Your brain is made up of 60 percent fat and in order to perform at its best, it requires a constant supply of omega-3-fatty acids,” Dr. Naidoo explained.

As busy women and entrepreneurs, staying focused and energized is so important. If you’re feeling low on energy, it might be time to reevaluate your food choices and shake things up! And what better month to try out plant-based eating than World Vegan Month? 

Latinas in Business Intern Fe-Licitty Branch contributed to this article. 

Domestic violence does not stop with privilege, money, or education — it can happen to anyone

October is recognized nationwide as Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). Launched in 1987, Domestic Violence Awareness month works to connect and unite individuals and organizations on domestic violence issues and raise awareness for those issues. Over the past three decades, much progress has been made to support domestic violence victims and survivors, to hold abusers accountable, and to create and update legislation to further those goals. 

Despite the plethora of resources and support available, recognizing domestic abuse and taking the necessary steps to remove oneself from a dangerous situation can still be difficult for many victims. Domestic abuse is a crime that happens behind closed doors, making it hard for others to see the signs and obtain help for victims. Often, victims of domestic violence are made to feel trapped and isolated by their abusers. This makes it difficult for victims to reach out for help. Since the pandemic began, there has been an unsurprising increase in domestic abuse. Isolation, rising tensions, financial stress and pressures are all common circumstances that can lead to domestic abuse. However, it is possible to help victims get out of the cycle of abuse

domestic violence

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

Recognizing the signs of domestic violence

Domestic violence is nationally recognized as a public health issue and causes serious health-related consequences such as: physical injuries like broken bones or head trauma and endure long term effects due to chronic stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

Sometimes, even when someone knows all the signs and what to look out for, they simply cannot recognize that they are a victim or that what they are experiencing is abuse. Many believe domestic abuse only happens to certain people or only happens in ways they have seen portrayed in the media. However, domestic violence is an issue that can affect anyone, no matter their level of success or status. It can occur in relationships of any gender and the abuse may not only be physical, but can also be verbal, and may include sexual assault, threats, financial control, and/or isolation. 

The story of Leidy -a fictional name for protection purposes- is a good example of how domestic violence can happen regardless of status, privilege, and education. Her story shows how she learned to recognize the abuse she was facing and how she ultimately overcame it, healed, and built a better life for herself and her children. 

Leidy, a woman living in CA, had just come out of a prolonged divorce. She met her new husband, Kevin, but after a couple of years, he started to complain about lack of job opportunities. 

Eventually, Kevin was offered a job in New York. It was an exciting change filled with uncertainty but Leidy’s kids were looking forward to experiencing a new life in a new city as exciting as The Big Apple.  

Kevin, a hard worker, quickly moved up in position and started making excellent pay. On the other hand, Leidy was sustaining the house and watching the kids. She had no career of her own but was at peace in that she believed the sacrifice was worth it because Kevin was giving her so much in return. She enjoyed his presence as they shared this experience together. Amidst the lows involving disagreements, the highs kept Leidy thankful for him. 

Soon, everything took a turn. Kevin began having mood swings. Nothing was sufficient for him. He became demanding and jealous. Leidy felt as if she was walking on eggshells waiting for the moment Kevin would snap. 

Having moved to a new city, adapting to a new place was a slow process. Leidy did not have friends she could trust, although it was easy for her to get along with others, cultural barriers still existed. Adapting was exhausting for her. Soon, going to grad school was a decision Leidy made to distract herself and think about her career. 

Red flags in a domestic violence situation 

Although she was making all the household decisions, she was not given control over credit cards or checking accounts. She was required to get approval from Kevin for everything related to finances including buying groceries. She rationalized Kevin’s behavior by telling herself that the mood swings were related to stress at work but the situation soon escalated to yelling and fighting. Leidy was physically harmed a few times but didn’t dare to go to the police or ask for a restraining order, ashamed that she might be causing Kevin’s behavior. He would apologize profusely every time after the abuse and send her flowers.  

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

Eventually, a neighbor alerted Leidy about a women’s organization. She felt ashamed and to her core, believing the abuse was her fault. A judge and a teacher participating in the group shared their own abuse situation. They told Leidy domestic violence does not stop with privilege, money, or education and that stuck with her for years. 

Communicating through Kevin’s co-worker, Leidy demanded that he leave. It never came to a restraining order as she was terrified Kevin would want to hurt her or the kids in the future as a way to get revenge. 

Leidy went on to become a successful domestic violence advocate in pursuit of giving others a voice. She felt a sense of peace and gratitude when finding a way out of her situation helping other amazing women.

Leidy’s story shows that domestic abuse can happen to anyone, even people with successful careers, financial stability, and higher education. Like many victims of domestic abuse, Leidy tried to rationalize her partner’s behavior and later blamed herself, feeling she was somehow at fault for how she had been treated. These feelings are common in victims of domestic abuse and denial and fear often keeps victims from seeking help.

Photo by Anete Lusina from Pexels

Resources for victims of domestic abuse

Below is a list of resources for anyone who may be struggling through domestic violence. These organizations are here to help. Just like the women’s organization in Leidy’s story, these organizations are equipped to offer aid and resources to victims of domestic violence and abuse. Recognizing you are experiencing domestic abuse and reaching out for help can be frightening, but it is the first step toward leaving the situation and healing. These organizations can help you connect with others and make a plan for the future. 

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 

Domestic Violence Awareness Project

The National Domestic Violence Hotline 

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Additional Resources By State (PDF) 

Latinas in Business Interns Nancy Robles and Val Gaytan contributed to this article. 

Gov. Phil Murphy awards $4 million in grant funding to community organizations assisting residents in health insurance enrollment

Navigator organizations to provide assistance to uninsured and underserved NJ residents during the upcoming ACA Open Enrollment Period and year-round. 

Governor Phil Murphy and Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) Commissioner Marlene Caride recently announced the award of nearly $4 million in grant funding for community organizations to serve as state Navigators. These organizations will provide free outreach, education, and enrollment assistance to residents shopping for health insurance during the Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Period. Open Enrollment at Get Covered New Jersey, the state’s official health insurance marketplace, begins on November 1st.  

The administration is increasing its investment in Navigators this year by nearly half a million dollars, and expanding the number of awardees, to help consumers enroll in quality, affordable health insurance. 

“Since day one, our administration has fought to improve access to health insurance based on our belief that health care is a fundamental right,” said Governor Murphy. “With this investment, we will expand the network of Navigators in our state and ensure that residents who need health insurance can get the help they need to obtain the coverage and care they deserve.” 

Get healthcare assistance through Get Covered NJ 

Get Covered New Jersey is the state’s official health insurance marketplace. Established by law on June 28, 2019 by Governor Phil Murphy, the marketplace is part of the state’s work to improve access to healthcare coverage for NJ residents and build up the progress made through the Affordable Care Act. 

NJ Diver's licenses

Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy established the state’s official health insurance marketplace, GetCoveredNJ in 2019.

GetCoveredNJ is focused on increasing access to affordable, high-quality health insurance for residents of New Jersey. The marketplace is where individuals and families can easily shop for and buy health coverage, and the only place to receive financial help. You can use GetCoveredNJ to compare health plans and calculate costs, and to choose the plan that works best for you and your family. It is the only place you will be able to apply for financial help to lower your monthly insurance premium and out-of-pocket costs. Through GetCoveredNJ you may also find out if you might qualify for free or low-cost health insurance through New Jersey’s publicly funded health insurance program, NJ FamilyCare.

During the inaugural GetCoveredNJ Open Enrollment Period, enrollment increased by nearly 10 percent over the previous open enrollment. The upcoming Open Enrollment Period at Get Covered New Jersey will run from November 1, 2021 to January 31, 2022, and is the only time during the year residents without coverage through an employer or other program can enroll in health insurance, unless they have a major life event.

With the GetCoveredNJ marketplace, New Jersey can also have a longer Open Enrollment Period and establish Special Enrollment Periods in order to respond to the needs of its residents. For the 2021 plan year, Open Enrollment started November 1, 2020 and ended January 31, 2021. A COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period is now in effect.

GetCoveredNJ allows the state to improve access to healthcare by investing in more outreach and trained experts to provide enrollment help within the community. By continuing to strengthen these Navigator organizations, more residents will have a chance to attain healthcare and assistance throughout the application process. 

“Navigators are an important part of reaching the state’s uninsured residents and ensuring they have access to quality, affordable health coverage and available financial help in their own community. With expanded state and federal financial help available in 2022, we want to ensure as many residents as possible take advantage of low-cost health coverage that is available,” said Commissioner Marlene Caride. “We are excited to continue to expand our network of community organizations providing free, unbiased enrollment assistance to residents. We look forward to working with our community partners as we work to get New Jersey residents covered this Open Enrollment Period and throughout the year.”

Comprehensive list of Navigator organizations  

A total of 18 organizations will be funded for the 2021-2022 year to serve as Navigators to support enrollment assistance in the State-Based Marketplace, expanded from 16 organizations awarded funding last year. All of the organizations serving as Navigators will have the ability to assist residents in-person and remotely. 

A total of $3.9 million will be awarded for the 2021-2022 year, compared to $3.5 million awarded in the 2020-2021 grant year. Navigator grants will support the work of organizations that conduct public education activities and offer free and impartial assistance to consumers to shop for and enroll in coverage on the marketplace, and help them apply for financial help. Grantee activities will include outreach and education year-round for 2022 coverage, including in advance of and during the Open Enrollment Period.

Where to find Navigator Organizations: 

AtlantiCare | Contact: 888-569-1000

Resources

  • LGBTQ health services
  • LifeCenter Fitness
  • Community Program:
    • Healthy Children
    • Healing hearts

Center For Family Services inc. | Contact: 877.922.2377 or access@centerffs.org

Resources

  • NJ COVID
  • Resources for Managing Traumatic Stress
  • Sesame Street in Communities 
  • Resources For Parents and Caregivers
  • Food Access
  • Financial Resources

Family Resource Network | Contact: 800-372-6510, Fax: (609) 392-5621

Resources: 

  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Individual Support 
  • Increase Accessibility
  • Home Independence
  • Scholarship Programs
  • Training & In-service Self Advocacy Training
  • Vocational Services
  • After-School Program
  • Network Support Services

Foodbank of Monmouth & Ocean County Fulfill | Contact: 732-918-26000 or main@fulfillnj.org

Resources: 

  • Tax refund Assistance
  • Providing Food
  • Kids Feeding Program
  • Culinary Training
  • Mobile Pantries
  • Affordable Healthcare

Health Research and Educational Trust of New Jersey | Contact: 609-275-4000 

Resources: 

  • ACCME Academy-find course, resources, support tools, and a community of
  • practice. 
  • Advancing Social Justice Resources
  • Educational Design Resources
  • Research Opportunities

HOPES Community-action Partnership Incorporated | Contact: 855-654-6737

Resources: 

  • Infant Head start Program
  • Adult Financial Literacy Workshop
  • Seniors Assisted
  • Transportation Program

Lakewood Resource and Referral Center | Contact: 732-942-9292

Resources: 

  • Affordable Housing
  • assistance
  • Community Education
  • Vaccination awareness

New jersey Citizen Action Educational Fund | Contact: 973-643-8800

Resources: 

  • Free Tax Preparation
  • Financial Coaching
  • Fair Houses Services
  • Consumer’s education

New Jersey Shares | Contact: 609-883-1626 or info@njshares.com

Resources: 

  • NJ Shares Energy Grant
  • Municipal Water Newark & Parsippany- Troy Hills
  • Aqua Aid Program
  • Verizon NJ communications
  • Lifeline Program

Newark Community Health Centers Inc | Contact:  800-994-6242

Resources: 

  • Women’s Health Program
  • Dental Program
  • Behavioral Health Program
  • Specialty Services
  • Pediatric Program

North Hudson Community Action Corporation | Contact: 201-210-0200

Resources: 

  • Program administration
  • Pregnant Woman
  • Parent Family Community
  • engagement
  • Educational Program

Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central and southern New Jersey Inc. | Contact: 800-230-7526

Resources: 

  • Free STD testing
  • HIV Testing and Counseling
  • Cancer Screening
  • Abortion

Southern Jersey Family Medical Centers Inc. | Contact:  609-567-0200

Resources: 

  • Behavioral Health
  • Migrant Health
  • Patient Support Services
  • Women’s Health care

St. James Health Inc. | Contact:  973-789-8111

Resources: 

  • Family Planning
  • Geriatrics
  • Prevention, screening
  • Pharmacy Services
  • Social Work
  • Sports Medicine

The Oranges ACA Navigator Project Inc. | Contact: 973-500-6031

Resources: 

  • NJ Family Care Covered Services
  • Doctor Visits
  • Eyeglasses
  • Prescriptions
  • Mental Health Services
  • Immunizations 

University Hospital | Contact:  (973) 972-4300

Resources: 

  • Specialized Services
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • LGBTQ training resources
  • Billing and Financial Counseling

Urban League of Hudson County | Contact:  201-451-8888

Resources: 

  • Affordable Housing & Community development
  • After school Computer learning
  • Child & Adult Care food program
  • Child Care
  • CEO Program

Zufall Health Center | Contact: 973-328-9100 or info@zufallhealth.org

Resources:

  • Covid Testing/ Info
  • Community Programs
  • Outreach Programs
  • Dental Services
  • Patient Support

Enrollment for 2021 coverage remains open through the end of the year through the COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period. Additionally, residents who qualify for NJ FamilyCare (New Jersey’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program) can enroll year-round. More information on health insurance options can be found at GetCovered.NJ.gov

Education is key to breast cancer prevention in Latina women

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual international health campaign to increase awareness of the disease and raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and cure. 

Overall, breast cancer is the most common non-skin cancer amongst women worldwide. Among Hispanic women, it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the leading cause of death, with an estimated 3,200 deaths in 2018 according to a Cancer.org fact sheet. Additionally, there were an estimated 24,000 cases of Hispanic women diagnosed in 2018. 

Breast Cancer education and prevention for Latinas

Latinas are warriors and champions in everything they do, from being successful entrepreneurs to battling cancer, the Latina spirit always perseveres through adversity. Organizations such as Latinas Contra Cancer and ALAS-WINGS were created by Latina cancer survivors with the mission to help other women through education, resources, and support. 

Education is one of the key prevention measures against breast cancer. While breast cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanic women, they still exhibit 25-30% lower overall mortality rates compared to non-Hispanic white women. 

In fact, studies have shown that the risk of breast cancer is even lower in those who are foreign-born. This is attributed to many cultural factors such as younger age at first birth, less use of menopausal hormone therapy, higher rates of breastfeeding, and different diets. 

The biggest issue facing Hispanic women when it comes to breast cancer is early detection and diagnosis. Breast cancer is less likely to be diagnosed at the earliest stage in Hispanic women compared to non-Hispanic white women. 

According to data provided by Cancer.org, in 2005-2009, 56% of breast cancers among Hispanic women were diagnosed at a local stage, compared to 64% among non-Hispanic white women. Due to later detection, Hispanic women are more likely to be diagnosed with tumors that are larger and are hormone receptor negative, which are more difficult to treat. 

Additionally, Hispanic women are less likely to receive regular mammography screening due to a variety of factors. These factors include difficulties related to access to care, insurance coverage, and a higher prevalence of unmet healthcare needs

Latinas Contra Cancer is working to address these factors by raising awareness about cancer in the Latino community, increasing access to quality care, working to decrease mortality and improving the quality of the health care experience. Their mission is to create an inclusive health care system that provides services to the underserved Latino population around issues of breast and other cancers.  

You might be interested: Marcela Berland, a pioneer in working from home, combines work and maternity

Reducing risk factors through lifestyle changes 

While there are some risk factors such as age, genetics, and family history that cannot be changed, there are many risk factors that can be prevented through lifestyle changes. 

Some of these manageable risk factors include diet and exercise, weight management, alcohol consumption, menopausal hormone treatment, and breastfeeding habits. 

By adapting a health-conscious lifestyle, many risk factors may be prevented. Above all, continued education and awareness will help women make informed decisions about their health and contribute to the prevention and early detection of breast cancer. 

For additional resources visit: 

Cancer.org 

Latinas Contra Cancer

ALAS-WINGS 

NationalBreastCancer.Org

Fatigue, brain fog, joint pain? You may be suffering from long-Covid

Asymptomatic Covid-19 and “long-Covid” are becoming a greater concern as many may be suffering from the virus without even knowing. 

Asymptomatic Covid and long-Covid have been flying under the radar however, the affects of both should not be overlooked. It’s estimated that 1 in 3 people who have Covid-19 are asymptomatic. Asymptomatic Covid is more likely to occur in healthy and younger age groups, including children and in households where another member has contracted Covid. Individuals who have been in contact with others who have tested positive for the virus but do not display symptoms after contact could be asymptomatic. 

Additionally, about a fifth of asymptomatic individuals went on to develop what has been termed “long-Covid,” according to an analysis by FAIR Health. Current research suggests older individuals are more likely to contract long Covid, but it has been found in many younger individuals as well. Data from a study conducted by King’s College London found that 1-2% of people in their 20s who had the virus would develop long Covid. For people in their 60s that number increased to about 5%. Long-Covid has also been found to be twice as common among women according to the BBC. 

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

What is long-Covid and how does it affect the body? 

Long-Covid is characterized by symptoms continuing for more than 12 weeks after infection which cannot be explained by another cause. Those who contracted Covid and were asymptomatic may not even know they are suffering from long-Covid afterwards. 

“There’s a myth out there that it only occurs with severe COVID, and obviously it occurs far more frequently in mild COVID,” said Eric Topol, founder and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, in an article with National Geographic

Many symptoms of long-Covid are often overlooked or written off as unrelated making the syndrome hard to pin down. Long-Covid can include a large range of symptoms such as pain, breathing difficulties, fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, sleep disturbance, and hypertension.

These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can impact your daily life, making ordinary tasks more difficult, and in extreme cases can lead to debilitating effects such as hallucinations, skin conditions, short-term memory loss, insomnia, hearing and vision changes, and gastro-intestinal problems.

Other symptoms according to the CDC, include: 

  • Cough
  • Joint pain
  • Chest pain
  • Memory, concentration or sleep problems
  • Muscle pain or headache
  • Fast or pounding heartbeat
  • Loss of smell or taste
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Fever
  • Worsened symptoms after physical or mental activities

The potential debilitating effects of long-Covid is cause for concern and individuals should keep an eye out for any changes to their health, even if they do not believe they have contracted Covid-19.

You might be interested: Brain fog can be alerting you about these medical conditions

Diagnosing and treating long-Covid 

While the cause of long-Covid is not yet known, experts theorize that the infection may make some people’s immune systems “go into overdrive,” attacking other parts of the body while combating the virus. 

Another theory presented in a BBC article stated that “fragments of the virus could remain in the body, possibly lying dormant and then becoming reactivated.” However, there is little evidence to support this theory at the moment.

The range of long-Covid’s symptoms has made it difficult to detect and treat. BBC reported that a study conducted by University College London found “200 symptoms affecting 10 organ systems in people with long Covid.”

According to Melissa Pinto, associate professor in the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing at University of California Irvine, researchers found that some people who tested positive for Covid-19 but hadn’t reported symptoms at the time of infection  later came in with symptoms associated with long-Covid. 

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

In diagnosing long-Covid, researchers and medical professionals must first test for any other underlying or preexisting conditions that may be causing symptoms.

Ann Parker, assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and a specialist in post-acute COVID-19 care, said, “When a patient comes to see us, we do a very thorough evaluation because we still don’t know exactly what to attribute to COVID and what might be a pre-existing underlying syndrome. The last thing I want to have happen is to say to a patient, yes, this is because you had COVID and miss something else that we could have addressed.”

We are only just beginning to understand the effects of long-Covid and how to detect and treat it. With so much still unknown, it is important for individuals who have contracted Covid-19 to continue monitoring their health even after recovery. For those who may have been asymptomatic, you may not even know you had Covid or have long-Covid. In this case, individuals who have been in contact with people who tested positive for the virus should consider getting tested even if no symptoms are present. 

Hurricane Ida leaves vulnerable communities in ruin

This past week, Hurricane Ida devastated communities throughout Louisiana and surrounding states, sweeping in on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Now, residents are dealing with the aftermath and the long road ahead. For many, the damage is the least of their worries as city-wide power outages threaten the health of residents. 

In New Orleans, a major transmission tower collapsed, resulting in residents of the city and surrounding western suburbs waking without power on Monday morning, the Washington Post reported.

Ida aftermath deepens the poverty gap among vulnerable communities 

As residents anxiously await power to be restored, many have been left to mourn the loss of their homes with no plan for the future. 

Carmen Girton, 43, a resident of Shady Nook Mobile Home Park in LaPlace, Louisiana, told The Washington Post that her trailer had been completely “shredded” in the storm. Girton lived there with her boyfriend, children, and two grandchildren.  

“It’s scary,” she said. “I’m so afraid. It’s devastating, having no home. We don’t know what we’re going to do. We don’t have insurance. None of us have insurance out here. We worry. What are we going to do?”

In Lafayette, Elsa Lopez, along with dozens of family members, congregated at her son’s Duson home to take shelter. Much of the family lived in mobile homes and Reynieri Castro was the only one whose home had a solid foundation, Indystar reported

Castro opened up his home with open arms, not only to the family but to the Latino community at large. “Yesterday, I was announcing that anyone who needed refuge or help, we would be available for them, supporting the Latino community,” said Castro. 

However, the Lafayette community was lucky, with much of the community being spared by Hurricane Ida. 

Still, devastation and wreckage throughout Louisiana and surrounding states will require communities to come together to support and rebuild.

Power outages leave communities vulnerable to rising heat 

Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida on August 29 as a powerful category 4 major hurricane. Date: 29 August 2021. Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Currently, it is estimated that power could take anywhere from seven to 10 days to be restored, according to Entergy, the region’s main energy provider. Though other areas may face longer delays as much as three weeks. Without power, residents could face health emergencies as heat rises throughout the week. 

This summer, the US has seen record-breaking temperatures, resulting in an increase in heat related illnesses and in extreme cases, death–such as the migrant farmworkers who have died working the fields recently. These cases, unfortunately, are more likely to affect low-income communities and communities of color who, historically, have been disadvantaged. Wealthier communities will be able to get by on generators or have already evacuated and relocated. Meanwhile, those who have been left behind in the aftermath face the threat of the oncoming heat.

For ethnic communities, such as Hispanics and Latinos, the statistics reveal a startling disadvantage. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, “extreme weather driven by climate change can also make the pollution burden worse for Latinos. For example, after Hurricane Harvey, the petrochemical industry reported releasing 320 tons of extra toxic pollution in Houston, nearly all of it concentrated within four miles of a neighborhood that is 98% Latino.” 

You might be interested: A world on fire: How to survive the rising heat

Additionally, Latinos are 21% more likely than whites to live in “urban heat islands.” These heat islands can be “up to 22 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than rural and suburban areas because a large portion of city surfaces are covered in pavement and concrete and lack tree cover.” 

A local weather advisory following Hurricane Ida read, “Heat is one of the most deadly weather hazards — don’t underestimate it.” 

The Washington Post reported that giving residents “access to power-charging stations, cooling stations, oxygen, and other needs” is the focus right now according to New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D). 

Death in the fields: U.S. Migrant farm workers are dying as extreme heat rises

Increased extreme temperatures throughout the U.S. are contributing to heat-related deaths among migrant farm workers. 

Photo by Akin on Unsplash

If you live in the northern hemisphere, then you’ve probably noticed the summer season has been especially brutal this year. The increase in temperatures has been a trend in recent years, with summer after summer breaking new records. Extreme heat waves have been reported across the U.S. over the past few months, with June 2021 becoming the hottest June on record in the U.S.  

These record-breaking temperatures are contributing to a rise in heat illness, which includes heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.  According to the CDC, about 700 people die in the U.S. each year from heat-related exposure.

For those working outdoors during this hot climate, the dangers are even greater. Long hours of direct exposure to heat can quickly lead to life-threatening conditions. Already, farmers and field workers are seeing the devastating effects of rising heat as workers die on the job. 

Death on the job: The deadly effects of heat illness

A recent Bloomberg article detailed the plight of U.S. farm workers who are battling the extreme heat with little to no protective measures in place to ensure their safety in the workplace. According to data collected by Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, nearly 70,000 U.S. workers were seriously injured due to excessive heat between 1992 and 2016. Additionally, there have been 783 workplace deaths attributed to excessive heat in those years. 

These dangerous conditions have already resulted in at least three deaths, according to the labor union, United Farm Workers, who have been attempting to track cases of heat-related deaths. 

Florencio Gueta Vargas, a 69 year old farm worker from Washington, was one of the individuals whose recent death has been attributed to heat-related causes. Gueta Vargas was found by his boss slumped over a tractor on Thursday, July 29th. That day the temperature had risen to the triple digits. 

His daughter, Lorena Gonzalez –one of six children that Gueta Vargas worked to support– blames working conditions and the family believes his death could have been prevented. On a GoFundMe to raise money for her father’s funeral she wrote, “Due to these high temperatures and working conditions my father was found dead at work due heatstroke.” 

Heat stroke is one of many heat illnesses and often fatal. Early symptoms of heat illness include headaches, dizziness, or extreme tiredness. Symptoms of heat stroke include: 

  • Change in mental state, such as confusion, hallucinations (seeing or hearing things) and slurred speech
  • Increased body temperature — 104 degrees F or higher
  • Hot, red, dry skin with no sweating
  • Rapid breathing
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Trouble walking
  • Seizures

[Source Mayo Clinic

Heat temperature alone is not the only concern when it comes to heat illness. Humidity is another important factor that affects the body’s experience of heat. Humidity actually makes it harder for our bodies to cool down. When there is humidity, it becomes harder for sweat to evaporate off the skin. The evaporation of sweat is what allows our bodies to cool down. 

Since her father’s passing, Lorena Gonzalez has visited her father’s worksite every day. In a PBS article, she describes the temperatures in the fields: the high humidity and smoke from nearby wildfires are heavy weight on her chest. She notes that her father was constantly exposed to these elements driving a tractor with no roof. The lack of protective measures for farmers from the equipment used to lax protocols for dealing with heat and taking breaks all contribute to the unsafe working conditions farm workers are facing today. 

“I just wish they would understand he was a person, that this is so hard on his daughters. My dad — God knows how long he was out there,” said Lorena.

Increasing safety in the workplace for farm workers 

Due to the increasing climate related dangers facing farm workers, advocates are now pushing for OSHA regulations to issue federal heat standards. These standards would require water, shade, and rest breaks to all farm workers. 

In an article by The Guardian, Florida farm worker Tere Cruz said, “It would be really good to have a broad rule so when farm owners see that temperatures are way too high they need to stop and allow people to rest. Things as they are right now, you can see when it’s really hot that by 1 or 2 in the afternoon, people just can’t work any more. But there’s this real pressure to keep working and keep working.” Cruz added, “We’re not animals, we’re human beings, but there’s this feeling that no matter what happens, even when people can’t seem to work any more, the bosses keep pushing and pushing.”

Currently, there are no OSHA regulations to cover heat illness, however efforts are being made to change this. According to Bloomberg, a letter was recently signed on August 3rd by several senators asking the health agency to take action  by creating permanent and enforceable heat standards to ensure safety in the workplace. Ohio senator Sherrod Brown said, “Protecting workers from heat stress is essential” as temperatures continue to rise due to climate change. 

So far, both Oregon and Washington have issued emergency rules to address the heat issue and ensure safety in the workplace, but advocates say these measures are not enough. 

“These are not financial policies, these are health and safety protections,” said  Elizabeth Strater, an organizer with the United Farm Workers. “These are actual men and women and children going out into the fields to work and die to feed the rest of this country, and they are being treated as though they are this human buffer to ensure that there continues to be a well-stocked fridge in your air-conditioned kitchen.” 

You might be interested: Poultry farms and Latino workers at the forefront of COVID-19

Additionally, many farm workers are undocumented migrants. This makes it difficult for workers to challenge unsafe working conditions or seek legal aid. Many do not speak out, fearing deportation, cut hours, or job loss. Due to these factors, many safety violations go unreported. A set standard for heat-related stress and illness at the federal level would ensure that all workers are protected. As advocates, we need to continue to push for better practices and workplace safety regulations because in the words of Lorena Gonzalez, “No one deserves to pass away at work.”