Topics on Public Health



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World Asthma Day- May 7th 2019

For the Greek version of this article, click here.   What is Asthma? Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes recurrent episodes of airway narrowing (bronchoconstriction), excess mucus production and thickening of the airway walls due to the underlying bronchial hyper-responsiveness, making it harder to breathe. Asthma can affect all ages but usually starts in childhood and only rarely presents with a new-onset in adults. Most cases of asthma diagnosed in adults usually had started in childhood whether or not unbeknownst to the individual. In many cases, childhood asthma subsides in adolescence, however it can recur in adulthood. In...

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World Immunization Week- April 24 2019

Read the Greek version of this article here. VACCINE HESITANCY Vaccine hesitancy, usually expressed by the anti-vaccination movement is not a new concept, it is as old as the first vaccine introduced in the early 1800’s. The current anti-vaccination wave was triggered by an article in the Lancet in 1999 by Andrew Wakefield that claimed autism was associated with measles vaccination. The claim has never been scientifically proven and the original article was retracted and deemed invalid for major methodological reasons and conflicts of interest by the author. The cost to society from the lapse in vaccination against measles has...

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Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD was the 3rd overall cause of death, globally in 2016. –World Health Organization What is COPD? According to the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (GOLD) global strategy for the diagnosis, management, and prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease 2018 report, “Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common, preventable and treatable disease that is characterized by persistent respiratory symptoms and airflow limitation that is due to airway and/or alveolar abnormalities usually caused by significant exposure to noxious particles or gases.” (Global Strategy For The Diagnosis, Management, And Prevention Of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, 2018 REPORT. pp.4) To...

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World Pneumonia Day!

What is Pneumonia? Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs especially affecting the alveoli that fill with pus and fluid instead of air. (alveoli are tiny air sacs that help to deliver oxygen from the air to the blood). Based on where it was acquired, pneumonia is characterized as: Community-Acquired Pneumonia (CAP) Responsible for the highest rates of morbidity and  mortality from infection among adults in Europe.1 Largest cause of death from infection  among children worldwide.2 In the EU, CAP is responsible for 1 million hospital admissions every year1 Nosocomial pneumonia Presents 48 hours after admission, Hospital Acquired Pneumonia –HAP...

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the George D. Behrakis Research Lab is sharing some very important information on Breast Cancer. Breast Cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Greece. It is characterized by the presence of abnormal cells in the breast that grow and divide rapidly and uncontrollably and have the ability to spread throughout the body (metastasis). Women might discover a lump or bulge in the breast during a self-breast exam. Not all lumps/bulges are cancerous, but they do all warrant a visit to the physician’s office for further examination. Today, with the implementation of...

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Lung Cancer Awareness Day

Cancer is a generic term for a group of diseases which can affect any body organ or system characterized by rapid, uncontrollable and abnormal cell growth and division, as well as the ability to spread throughout the body (metastasis). The cancer is usually named after the organ where it started from, for example lung cancer whereas metastasis from another organ to the lungs is not lung cancer, but cancer of the organ of origin that has spread to the lungs. Lung cancer is the most common cause of death from cancers in Greece.1 Causes of Lung Cancer Tobacco smoke through...

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Legionnaire’s Disease

In regards to the recent Legionella pneumonia cases that were reported in Athens, on behalf of The Institute of Public Health of The American College of Greece and the George D. Behrakis RESEARCH LAB of the Hellenic Cancer Society, Professor Panagiotis Behrakis and Dr. Anna Tzortzi provided the following health information for the public regarding Legionnaire’s disease. For the Greek version of this article please click here.  What is Legionnaire’s disease?  A bacterium called Legionella that causes an acute respiratory infection and be found in freshwater environments or in other complex water systems such as: Water supply systems Water pipes...

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Beach safety tips- 2018

A great thing about the summer, is that it is filled with fun at the beach! Read the tips below and be safe at the beach this summer. Pay attention to environmental conditions! Check weather conditions before you swim. For example, a lot of wind means big waves and currents, while storm and lightning means there is a risk for electric shock. It is very dangerous to swim in these conditions and should be avoided. Is the beach tended to? Organized beaches are cleaned and cared for regularly making it a more safe and enjoyable environment. Are there lifeguards present...

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World Cancer Day – February 4th, 2018

What is Cancer? Cancer is a generic term for a group of diseases and can affect any body organ. Cancer arises from the interaction between genetic and environmental factors. Known environmental carcinogenic factors can be: Physical (ie. Ultraviolet radiation) Chemical (ie. Components of tobacco smoke) or Biological (ie. infections from viruses, bacteria or parasites) Presentation Cancer usually forms as a solid tumour (called a malignant tumour) which has the ability to invade other tissues and spread throughout the body (this is called metastasis). Symptoms Symptoms vary according to the system affected ie. cough, hoarseness, any skin changes or lumps, abdominal...

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Influenza (also known as the flu) is a highly contagious illness for all ages and is spread easily from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or touching contaminated surfaces. Flu Symptoms Fever (temperature higher than 37.8ºC) that lasts 2-5 days Headache and muscle aches Fatigue Cough and sore throat may also be present Flu symptoms usually improve in 2-5 days but can persist for up to a week or more. Most people with the flu recover within one to two weeks without treatment. Pneumonia is the most common complication of the flu virus. Prevention Getting vaccinated against Seasonal Influenza is the...

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The Facts Measles is a highly contagious disease transmitted through human-to-human contact but also in public spaces, even in the absence of person-to-person contact. Following exposure, approximately 90 percent of susceptible individuals will develop measles. Symptoms of measles include: Fever Feeling sick, like with a cold Loss of appetite Spots in the mouth – These can look like grains of salt. Red, runny eyes, extra sensitive to bright light Sneezing and coughing A sore throat A red rash that can form red patches and starts on the face and spreads to the body. The duration of the incubation period is...

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