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An Organ Donor Crisis
The story: Selena Gomez recently came under fire for stating in a Rolling Stone interview that her only friend in the “industry” is Taylor Swift. Many were quick to point out that the Wizards of Waverly Place Star forgot to mention her other industry friend, Francia Raisa, the actress known best for her roles in How I Met Your Father and Grown-ish and donating a kidney to Selena Gomez back in 2017. This controversy surfaced right as Gomez’s new documentary, My Mind & Me, dropped, which many critiqued for also failing to mention the organ donor.
Why did Selena Gomez need a kidney transplant?
Selena Gomez was diagnosed with lupus in 2014, which is an autoimmune condition that can cause inflammation and damage to almost any part of the body, such as the skin, kidneys, brain, heart, and lungs. Lupus occurs in women much more frequently than men, with almost 90% of cases occurring in women of childbearing age. As the disease progresses, lupus nephritis can eventually result, which is when the autoimmune response damages the filtering units in the kidneys. This can result in reduced kidney function and even kidney failure. It is when this happens that patients, like Selena Gomez, look to kidney transplants.
Tell me more…
Organ transplants are no easy feat. Donated organs can come from living or deceased donors, which sounds promising, but unfortunately the need for organ donations far exceeds the supply. There is over 100,000 people on the organ transplant waiting list in the US and many people pass away while waiting for a transplant. However, even when an organ becomes available, that’s not the end of the story. Donors and recipients have to have compatible blood types and immune proteins called human leukocyte antigen (HLA) to reduce the risk of the recipient’s immune system rejecting the donated organ. Having a close friend or relative who is a match, like in the case of Selena Gomez and Francia Raisa, can speed along the whole process. When taking all of these factors into consideration, a successful organ donation can often seem like a medical miracle!
The resurfacing of the Gomez and Raisa kidney donation story serves as a reminder of the health complications that arise for those suffering from lupus, and of the importance of organ donation!
A Closer look at Bipolar Disorder
Reality TV shows have never been short of controversial moments and the Netflix series ‘Love is Blind’ is no exception. In particular, a recent comment made by one of the show’s contestants, where he asked his fiancée if she was bipolar in response to an argument they were having, shocked viewers. Many fans were upset at the comment as unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that the term “bipolar” has been used in a negative way, so let’s delve deeper into this.
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition where people oscillate between extreme highs of emotion, called mania, and extremely low depressive states. It’s a common misconception that rapid mood swings are the same thing as bipolar disorder. Rather, episodes, classified by symptoms like enhanced energy, elevated sense of self and decreased need for sleep, must last for at least 7 days to be considered mania and 4-7 days to be considered hypomania. Meanwhile, major depressive episodes, characterized by symptoms like loss of energy and motivation, lack of interest in regular activities, and suicidal thoughts, last at least two weeks. Treatments for bipolar disorder include mood stabilizing medications such as lithium, psychological support such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), and lifestyle changes. Early diagnosis is important because it can result in better response to treatment. However, even with treatment, many patients still deal with multiple relapsing and remitting episodes throughout their lifetime.
Bipolar disorder is not uncommon, with more than 4% of Americans expected to receive a diagnosis at some point in their lifetime. COVID-19 has put even more of a spotlight on bipolar disorder, as many patients have reported worsening of their symptoms during the pandemic. Not to mention that viral infections like COVID-19 can precipitate new cases of bipolar disorder.
Processed, Packaged and Perilous Foods
We’ve all been told time and time again that ultra-processed foods are bad for us, but just how bad are they? We know that chips, hot dogs, and other processed foods have health consequences such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and increased risk of obesity, both in individuals and for their offspring, but recent findings point to more devastating consequences of our guilty pleasure foods. A recent study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that consumption of ultra-processed foods was associated with premature death in Brazil. The study found that more than 10% of all premature deaths in adults 30-69 years old could be attributed to ultra-processed foods and that reducing the consumption of these foods could significantly decrease the number of premature deaths. What’s worse is that the consumption of ultra-processed foods is actually greater in the US than in Brazil, where the study took place.
It’s no wonder that ultra-processed foods play such a significant role in our lives. Unhealthy foods are tasty and activate reward pathways in our brains that make us want to keep eating them. Not to mention humans have adapted through evolution to prefer calorie-dense foods with high energy profiles. But unlike our ancestors, we live in sedentary environments where calorie-rich foods are plentiful, so this evolutionary adaption can actually prove to be harmful in modern society.
So, what does this mean? Well, to reduce your risk of high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and premature death, it’s best to swap out your bag of chips for an apple, or your frozen pizza for some whole foods. The transition may not be easy but it will definitely be worth it!
It’s that time of year again– that is, the time of year when people start growing out their beards and moustaches all in support of Movember. Movember is an annual event that takes place throughout the month of November, where people grow out their facial hair to raise money and awareness for men’s health. In the past, many celebrities have joined in on the no shave November movement to show support.
With the focus of Movember being on awareness about men’s health, let’s take a look at three key topics in men’s health: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health. Prostate cancer, which is cancer of the small gland underneath the bladder, is the most common cancer in men. Testicular cancer, on the other hand, is far less common, however it usually presents in young males under the age of 40, so awareness is key. Although men’s cancers are extremely important issues, a recent focus of Movember has been on men’s mental health. Mental health struggles, such as depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, often go unreported and undiagnosed in men due to the surrounding stigma. The lack of support and dialogue around men’s mental health can have devastating consequences: it has been reported that men account for almost 80% of suicides in the US. Many have been raising awareness about this issue including celebrities like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, NBA star Kevin Love, and Olympian Michael Phelps. Whether it’s prostate cancer, testicular cancer, or mental health, ditching the razor this month can mean mo’ awareness for some of the biggest issues in men’s health!
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