Top 10 ways to reduce COVID-19 risk

As the number of cases and hospitalizations rise, infectious disease specialists offer advice on ways to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Top 10 ways to reduce COVID-19 risk
Washing your hands regularly, wearing a mask and staying at least 6 feet from others are all steps you can take to reduce transmission of COVID-19. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

This is not the time for COVID-19 fatigue.

Cases are surging nationwide, and particularly in West Michigan.

Spectrum Health is seeing a large number of COVID-19 patients—far exceeding the peak reached last spring.

This means we must continue to be careful to avoid contracting the virus—and to prevent the spread of it in our community.

Here are the top 10 ways to reduce your COVID-19 risk, according to infectious disease specialists at Spectrum Health:

  1. Wear a face mask in public and in groups—always.
  2. Wash your hands as frequently as possible—use soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer.
  3. Try not to touch your face.
  4. Avoid crowds. Stay at least 6 feet from anyone not in your household.
  5. Avoid contact with frequently touched surfaces and objects.
  6. Restrict gatherings to less than 10 people. (This may seem extreme, but as we go indoors more, it’s even more important.)
  7. Skip the potlucks. Bring your own food and drinks to a gathering, and have just one person serve all shareable food.
  8. Avoid contact with anyone who is sick—and stay home if you feel sick.
  9. Avoid indoor visits to bars and restaurants. Order take-out instead.
  10. Skip the carpool and ride separately. And if you do ride in a vehicle with someone outside of your household, wear a mask.

Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have risen 80% in Michigan, as cases have trended upwards in all regions of the state, according to a joint statement issued by the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

Leaders from 110 of Michigan’s 137 hospitals, including Spectrum Health, issued a joint statement Thursday, Oct. 22, encouraging Michigan residents to follow safety precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.

“Help keep COVID-19 under control by doing what you can to prevent more illness and hospitalization,” the health leaders urge. “Support our dedicated and courageous healthcare staff as they continue the fight against COVID-19 for those patients who have the misfortune of becoming ill during the pandemic.”

Source : Health Beat More   

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Aspirin and breast cancer risk: How a wonder drug may become more wonderful

Over the years, the list of aspirin’s potential benefits has grown: a number of studies suggest that taking aspirin regularly can lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Now recent studies suggest that aspirin may also reduce the risk of breast cancer. The post Aspirin and breast cancer risk: How a wonder drug may become more wonderful appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.

Aspirin and breast cancer risk: How a wonder drug may become more wonderful

Aspirin has been called a wonder drug. And it’s easy to see why.

It’s inexpensive, its side effects are well-known and generally minor. And since it was developed in the 1890s, it’s been shown to provide a number of potential benefits, such as relieving pain, bringing down a fever, and preventing heart attacks and strokes. Over the last 20 years or so, the list of aspirin’s potential benefits has been growing. And it might be about to get even longer: did you know that aspirin may lower your risk of several types of cancer?

Studies of aspirin and cancer

A number of studies suggest that aspirin can lower the risk of certain types of cancer, including those involving the

  • colon
  • ovaries
  • liver
  • prostate.

The evidence that aspirin can reduce the risk of colon cancer is so strong that guidelines recommend daily aspirin use for certain groups of people to prevent colon cancer, including adults ages 50 to 59 with cardiovascular risk factors, and those with an inherited tendency to develop colon polyps and cancer.

And what about breast cancer? A number of studies in recent years suggest that breast cancer should be added to this list.

Studies of aspirin and breast cancer

One of the more convincing studies linking aspirin use to a lower risk of breast cancer followed more than 57,000 women who were surveyed about their health. Eight years later, about 3% of them had been newly diagnosed with breast cancer. Those who reported taking low-dose aspirin (81 mg) at least three days a week had significantly fewer breast cancers.

  • Regular low-dose aspirin use was associated with a 16% lower risk of breast cancer.
  • The reduction in risk was even greater — about 20% — for a common type of breast cancer fueled by hormones, called HR positive/HER2 negative.
  • No significant reduction in risk was found among those taking regular-dose aspirin (325 mg), or other anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen.

Another analysis reviewed the findings of 13 previous studies that included more than 850,000 women and found

  • a 14% lower risk after five years of taking aspirin
  • a 27% lower risk after 10 years of aspirin use
  • a 46% reduction in risk after 20 years of aspirin use.

How does aspirin affect breast cancer risk?

These studies did not examine why or how aspirin might reduce breast cancer risk. So we really don’t how it might work.

In animal studies of breast cancer, aspirin has demonstrated anti-tumor properties, including inhibiting tumor cell division and impairing growth of precancerous cells. In humans, researchers have observed an anti-estrogen effect of aspirin. That could be important, because estrogen encourages the growth of some breast cancers. It’s also possible that aspirin inhibits new blood vessel formation that breast cancers need to grow. And the particular genetics of the tumor cells may be important, as aspirin’s ability to suppress cancer cell growth appears to be greater in tumors with certain mutations.

Now what?

It’s too soon to suggest that women should take aspirin to prevent breast cancer. Studies like these can show a link between taking a medication (such as low-dose aspirin) and the risk of a particular condition (such as breast cancer), but cannot prove that aspirin actually caused the reduction in breast cancer risk. So we’ll need a proper clinical trial — one that compares rates of breast cancer among women randomly assigned to receive aspirin or placebo — to determine whether aspirin treatment lowers the risk of breast cancer.

Warning: All drugs come with side effects

Keep in mind that all medications, including aspirin, can cause side effects. While aspirin is generally considered safe, it can cause gastrointestinal ulcers, bleeding, and allergic reactions. And aspirin is usually avoided in children and teens, due to the risk of a rare but serious condition called Reye’s syndrome that can harm the brain, liver, and other organs.

Stay tuned

Low-dose aspirin is often prescribed to help treat or prevent cardiovascular disease, such as heart disease and strokes. A 2016 study estimated that if more people took aspirin as recommended for cardiovascular disease treatment or prevention, hundreds of thousands of lives and billions of dollars in healthcare costs would be saved. That might be an underestimate if the drug’s anti-cancer effects are confirmed. But aspirin is not beneficial for everyone — and some people need to avoid taking it. So, ask your doctor if taking aspirin regularly is a good idea for you.

Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling.

The post Aspirin and breast cancer risk: How a wonder drug may become more wonderful appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.

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