Arthritis, or age-related, they can be inherited from

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Arthritis,
asthma, allergies, cancer, diabetes, blood clots, bronchitis, sexual
transmitted diseases, malaria and hepatitis … what do all of these words have
in common? They are all types of diseases that negatively affect our health. Hello
everyone! My name is Dr. Colella and today I will be talking to you about human
health and diseases, more specifically cancer and diabetes. This topic relates
to units in both chemistry and in biology, since there are chemical compounds
involved, as well as the human body. Diseases can be gender or age-related, they can be inherited from your
family’s genes, or they can be transmitted from one person to another if
contagious. Did you know that hundreds of thousands of chemical
reactions take place in the human body without us even knowing or thinking
about it? Some of these reactions include the pumping of our blood, the
extraction and storage of energy, the fighting off of flu bugs, and even just the
making of simple everyday life decisions. All types of illness or diseases are
caused when a chemical change occurs, altering the normal chemical reactions.

The normal chemical stops, slows down, or increases the frequency of the normal
reactions that occur. Diseases affect all types of body systems; for example,
our circulatory system, digestive system, muscular system, skeletal system and
reproductive system. There are many ways to lower the risk of getting any type
of disease by simply washing our hands, getting vaccinated, using antibiotics
when prescribed, not sharing personal items like toothbrushes, taking note of
potential symptoms that one may have and getting the appropriate help, and finally
eating healthy. For most diseases there is no cure, but there are treatments
for almost all of them. I will begin with the first of the two diseases that I
will discuss in detail, cancer.  

 

         What is cancer you may be wondering? Cancer
is a worldwide disease that has a huge impact on many people’s lives. It is a
disease where abnormal cells are uncontrollably dividing and invading the normal
cells that surround specific tissues in a person’s body. There are 2 types of
cancer; benign or malignant. The cells in malignant tumours are considered
cancerous cells and need to be treated as soon as possible. Benign cancer is
known as the ‘sleeping’ cancer, where in most cases, it does not cause any harm
to the individual. In the world today, there are over 100 types of cancer. The
most common types of this disease include cancer of the bladder, breast, colon,
kidney, liver, blood (also known as leukemia), lung, prostate, pancreas and
thyroid. The severity of the cancer is dependent upon which of the 4 stages it
is in. Stage one is the least severe where the cancer is small and contained
within the organ where it started, with no signs of it moving to other parts of
the body. In stage two, the tumour is still contained within the organ but it
is larger than it is in stage one, typically invading most, if not all, of the
organ. In stage three, the cancerous cells have grown larger and are starting
to spread into surrounding tissues. In the final stage, stage 4, the cancer
cells have spread to other locations of the body different from the organ where
it originated.

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         Now, how exactly does cancer form? Cancer
is caused when the cell’s DNA changes. The cell’s DNA is packed into genes
which determines how the cells are to function, grow and divide through a
process known as mitosis. Errors in these cells cause the cell to stop its
normal functions which can be cancerous. When genes don’t function properly,
cells grow rapidly. They are unable to stop the uncontrollable cell growth and the DNA errors are not
repaired properly, causing them to replicate the mutated gene. Estrogens are
known as a way to change the cell’s DNA, causing cancer. They are known as
‘chemical agents’ and they become carcinogenic when their unbalanced metabolism
creates too much estrogen which reacts with the DNA. This forms mutations which
leads to the start of cancer. These cancerous cells undergo mitosis at a faster
rate, explaining why cancer cells grow so quickly. Cancer can also be genetic.

For example, in breast cancer, the BRCA-1 gene is passed on to the offspring,
increasing their chances of one day getting breast cancer. Some of the symptoms
one may have with any type of cancer are: fatigue, a lump that can be felt
underneath the skin, weight changes, skin changes, changes in bladder habits, a
persistent cough, trouble breathing, difficulty swallowing, constant
indigestion, discomfort after eating, unexplained muscle or joint pain,
unexplained fevers and night sweats and unexplained bleeding or bruising. These
symptoms vary depending on the location and stage of the cancer cells, and are a
result of the chemical changes which the cancerous cells create.

 

         Surprisingly, there is no known cure
for cancer yet, but we improvise with several different treatment options. Some
of these treatments include surgery in attempt to remove the cancer from the
body, radiation therapy which uses a high amount of radiation to destroy the
cancer cells or shrink the tumours, targeted therapy which targets the
abnormalities in cancer cells that help them grow, divide and spread, and
finally chemotherapy which is a drug used to kill cancer cells.

(Fun
fact: there are many different drugs used in chemotherapy treatments but the two
main ones that are used are: Asparaginase C1377H2208N382O442S17
and Doxorubicin C27H29NO11. Both chemical
compounds are molecular compounds since they are made up of elements that exist
in the non-metals section of the periodic table (oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen,
carbon and sulfur)). The main side effect from chemotherapy treatment is hair
loss. This occurs because these chemical compounds target all of the fast-growing
cells in your body, not just the fast-growing cancerous cells, and hair is
known as one of the fastest growing cells in a human body. The hair cells are
destroyed, and as a result, patients experience hair loss. Although cancer may
target just about anyone, there are some ways you can reduce your chances of
developing cancer in daily life. To reduce risk, you should avoid smoking,
avoid extra sun exposure, eat healthy, exercise daily, maintain a healthy
weight, avoid alcohol, schedule cancer-screening exams and finally, ask your
doctor about immunizations since some can lower the risk of getting cancer and other
viruses. Now onto the next disease, diabetes.

 

         Another widespread disease is diabetes.

What is diabetes? Diabetes is known as a disease that impacts our body’s
ability to use or produce insulin. Insulin (C256H387N65O79S6)
is a molecular compound that is very important to our body, as it helps
move energy from the foods we eat to our cells, giving them the energy to
function properly. Without insulin, there is too much sugar or glucose (whose
chemical formula is C6H12O6) in the body.

There are 3 types of diabetes, namely Type 1 diabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and
gestational diabetes. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin
at all because the body’s immune system destroys the cells that release insulin.

As a result, glucose builds up in your blood instead of being used for energy
and the person experiences either high or low blood sugar levels. This type of
diabetes cannot be prevented and it is usually diagnosed in children or
teenagers, accounting for 5% to 10% of people with diabetes. Type 2 diabetes
occurs when neither your pancreas nor your body can produce enough insulin, and
the cells are unable to use the insulin properly. The result is that too much
glucose remains in your bloodstream. Over time, this leads to other
complications in your body like vision loss, kidney disease, heart disease or
stroke, improper blood flow, and numbness of `nerves. This type is usually
diagnosed in adults around the age of 45 and it accounts for 90% to 95% of
people with diabetes. Type 1 diabetes happens when the immune
system is fighting infection; it attacks and destroys insulin that is making
beta cells for the pancreas. Scientists believe that Type 1 diabetes can be
inherited genetically, and environmental factors, like viruses, may trigger the
disease. Type 2 diabetes is caused by both lifestyle factors and genes, for
example, being overweight, not getting physical activity, being insulin
resistant and through genetic family history. Being overweight causes insulin
resistance which puts you at risk for Type 2 diabetes. Other causes for
diabetes include genetic mutations, hormonal diseases, damage to the pancreas
and the taking of different medications. Diabetes can be genetic since the
diseased DNA cells are being passed down to the offspring, increasing their
potential chance of developing diabetes. Gestational diabetes is when high
levels of blood sugar levels happen during pregnancy. This usually goes away
once the pregnancy is over.

         Having diabetes is likely to make you thirstier,
urinate more often, feel tired, increase your hunger, heal wounds slower, make
you feel itchier, increase your chance of skin infections, make your vision
blurred, make you lose weight unexpectedly (Type 1), make you gain weight gradually
(Type 2), have mood swings, feel dizzy and experience leg cramps. In a healthy
person, insulin delivers glucose to body cells to ensure they function properly
and avoid these issues. A diabetic patient has changing insulin levels, so when
the cells don’t receive the energy they need, these symptoms arise.

         Just like cancer, there is no cure for
diabetes but there are treatments for each type. Type 1 treatments include insulin
injections/pumps, exercise and a special diet known as the Type 1 Diabetes Diet.

Type 2 treatments consist of weight reduction, a special diet known as the Type
2 Diabetes Diet, exercise, oral medications to control blood sugar levels and
insulin injections/pumps if the oral medication is not working. These
treatments all have one purpose, and that is to control the glucose levels in
the body and your metabolism. Monitoring the sugar levels regularly and talking
to your doctor about the levels to adjust treatments is very important for
diabetics. Everyone may be at risk of getting diabetes and it has affected the
lives of 1 in every 11 adults. This number is only expected to rise, so you
should try to prevent it and lower your risk by controlling your weight, being
physically active, maintaining a healthy diet, staying hydrated and if you
smoke, QUIT!

 

        Both similarities and differences can
be seen when comparing cancer and diabetes. Firstly, cancer and diabetes are
similar because they are both genetic, meaning they can both be passed down
through DNA cells onto their kids. Both are biological in nature with specific
compounds to try treating the condition like chemotherapy (C1377H2208N382O442S17 or
C27H29NO11 )
for cancer and insulin (C256H387N65O79S6
) for
diabetes. The compounds to treat these diseases are
both molecular compounds which are classified as non-metals on the periodic
table. Some of the symptoms are similar for example weight changes, skin
changes and discomfort in various areas. They differ in the way of causes. Cancer
develops from DNA changes and the cell growing at a much faster pace, skipping
through the checkpoints a cell is supposed to go through. Diabetes, on the
other hand, develops when your body or pancreas cannot produce enough insulin
to keep your body healthy by not having so much sugar in your blood. Cancer has
over 100 different types with 4 stages and diabetes has three types. Cancer is
more aggressive through its rapid growth and is life-threatening since it can
spread to other parts of your body, whereas diabetes cannot grow or spread to
some of the body’s most important organs, like cancer can.

 

         As Catholic’s, we believe in our one
and only God who has created everything on earth. We sometimes may question why
God created diseases that hurt people and make them suffer. We must trust that
it is part of the journey that God intended for us. Each of us is unique with
our own differences, personally given to us by God, so we may not have the same
struggles. We should recognize that God is by our side guiding us throughout
our life, giving us the strength to overcome whatever it is we must endure,
just as He did on the cross. It is up to us whether we turn away from God, or rather
turn to our faith for strength. Sometimes our path leads us to feel isolated
from everyone, but we must remember that we are not alone. There are others
that are experiencing the same hardships or illnesses, that we can turn to for
comfort in times of need. God is always willing to forgive us of our sins at
any time and He gave us free-will, meaning that we can make our own decisions.

Making responsible decisions is very important because we can choose whether we
want to get the appropriate treatment if necessary, as well as make active
lifestyle choices to try and prevent some of these illnesses from happening
when possible. God created us to love one another as we would want to be loved.

God created the world to be a peaceful and loving place where we all work
together with no violence. We can put an end to these deadly diseases like
cancer if we all put in the work, so that everyone being affected by these diseases,
including people we know like friends and family, can live a happier life. By
working together in a loving manner, we can show God that we are following his
plan for the world and that we are following in Jesus’ footsteps by helping
others. We must remember to be there to support others that are suffering from
such diseases as they go through their difficult times. This is what Jesus
would do.

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