Archive for November, 2012

Do you know what your extended health insurance coverage is for naturopathic medicine?

People frequently ask me about the coverage of naturopathic medicine by extended health insurance plans. While it is a difficult question to answer in detail, because of the variability between different plans, below are questions that you can ask your insurance provider about coverage to see a naturopathic doctor.

How much naturopathic coverage do I have with my insurance plan?
Most insurance plans provide a certain amount of coverage to see a naturopathic doctor per year (e.g. $500 per year).
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Movember for Men’s Health and Prostate Cancer

Graham Beaton BHSc, ND
Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine

During the month of November, Canadians are likely to see the sprouting of facial hair (both good and bad) on the faces of many Canadian men. This initiative, called Movember, is undertaken to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer and men’s mental health initiatives.

Prostate cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed form of cancer in Canadian men, accounting for approximately a quarter of all cancer diagnoses (an estimated 25,500 men were diagnosed in 2011).

Prostate Gland and Prostate Cancer
The prostate is a walnut sized muscular gland in the male reproductive system. It is located between the bladder and the rectum and surrounds a portion of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. The function of the prostate is to produce semen, the milky fluid that transports sperm, and using its muscular elements, to contract and push semen and sperm through the urethra and out of the body.

Prostate cancer is the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of prostate gland cells. This abnormal growth can be slow in some men, while in others it can be more aggressive. Known risk factors for the development of prostate cancer include age (e.g., risk increases after the age of 50, with most prostate cancer diagnosed in men over the age of 65), family history, and race (e.g., those of African and Caribbean descent are at highest risk).

Prevention of Prostate Cancer
Due to the high prevalence of prostate cancer, there has been a great deal of research looking to determine preventative measures that may decrease one’s risk of developing prostate cancer. For example, researchers have studied the link between prostate cancer and obesity, dietary intake of fat and meat, and cooking practices.

Obesity has been postulated to be a risk factor for prostate cancer. Specifically, obesity is associated with an increased risk of developing more aggressive forms of prostate cancer and with poorer outcomes following treatment12, as obesity is thought to cause several alterations in gene expression and hormone production, which are believed to facilitate the initiation, growth and progression of cancer cells of the prostate.

Specific types of dietary meat are another factor that has been extensively studied to determine their influence on prostate cancer. While there have been a number of studies showing that the high consumption of red meat increases a man’s risk of prostate cancer3, not all studies have shown this association4. Conflicting results have also been found with fish consumption56, which was previously postulated to reduce risk of prostate cancer.

Most recently, the effect of different cooking practices of different types of meat on developing prostate cancer has been studied7. These studies have shown that men who eat a lot of meat that is cooked at high temperatures, and/or cooked for a longer time are at an increased risk for developing prostate cancer. For instance, high consumption of hamburger meat cooked at high temperatures and well done red meat are associated with prostate cancer, while pan fried poultry consumption is marginally associated with increased risk of prostate cancer.

The increased risk of prostate cancer related to the amount, type of meat consumed and cooking practices is likely related to several compounds found in meats that are converted into carcinogens when meat is cooked at high temperatures for long periods of time. These compounds form on the surface of smoked or grilled meat due to the decomposition of fat and the formation of heterocyclic amines, from the interaction of proteins and sugars in meat cooked at high temperatures.

If you are a man over the age of 50, or if you are at high risk of developing prostate cancer, talk to a health professional about being tested for prostate cancer. As a naturopathic doctor, I work with patients to help reduce their risk for the development or recurrence of prostate cancer by using up to date research to identify and address diet and lifestyle factors that influence cancer risk.

Graham Beaton is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine in practice at Ottawa Collaborative Care Centres – 102 Lewis Street in Ottawa. If you have questions about prostate health, prostate cancer, men’s health or how Naturopathic Medicine can help you, please call 613-290-6115.

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