The yeast infection is a common infection caused by a type of yeast like fungus known as candida. Small amounts of candida in the form of minute organisms are normally present in our bodies all the time, but we usually have the right balance of bacteria to prevent them from multiplying too much. Sometimes these yeast-like fungi do start to grow and this can cause an infection. Anyone living with HIV and AIDS is particularly susceptible to yeast infections.

50 to 75% of all women will have a vaginal yeast infection (often called thrush) during their lifetime. If the level of acidity in the vagina decreases, then too much yeast growth can cause a vaginal yeast infection. This decrease could be due to diabetes, pregnancy, immune deficiency, poor nutrition or some medications such as anti-biotics and birth control pills. There is itching and irritation in the vagina as well as swelling and redness of the vulva. There may be a thick, white cottage-cheese like discharge from the vagina and a burning sensation when urinating or during intercourse plus a general feeling of discomfort. Sometimes the symptoms can be mild and clear up on their own or at other times more severe, requiring treatment.

Mouth thrush is where small lesions appear inside the mouth and on the tongue. White patches or cottage cheese like lumps appear on the tongue. Mouth thrush is often caused by a weakened immune system so the young and the elderly are at risk.

Yeast infections also occur in the nails and in many cases those who suffer from this either work with water or who have to wash their hands frequently. The nail may become very brittle and white with yellow coloring or if there is moisture trapped in the nail plate, it may be a deep green color. The lower area of the nail, just below the cuticle, may swell and be painful. If not treated, yeast infections eventually destroy the nail.

Yeast infections can also appear in the skin folds of both men and women especially when they are diabetic or obese. Wherever there is an excess of skin, so that the skin fold is warm and moist, a skin yeast infection can take a hold. The infection will be a bright pinkish red (almost like a blushing color) and there may rash patches sometimes with weeping fluid.

Penile yeast infections occur on the penis with irritation and soreness as well as severe itching of the head of the penis. There can be a white, clumpy discharge together with redness and small blisters. This yeast infection can be caused by other medical conditions, poor hygiene, antibiotics or sexual intercourse with a woman who has vaginal thrush.
aWomen can encounter environmental factors that increase their risk of breast cancer at various periods of their physical development, beginning before birth and extending until menopause. These non-inherited, or epigenetic, changes in DNA can correlate with risk factors for breast cancer, according to research being presented at the 2007 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

To study the effects of epigenetic changes in DNA, a team of researchers from Columbia University School of Public Health, led by Mary Beth B. Terry, Ph.D., collected information from former participants of the National Collaborative Perinatal Project born between 1959 and 1966.

"We've been following a birth cohort of women who were all born at Columbia in the late 50s and early 60s," said Terry. "We're interested to find if early life factors are associated with breast cancer susceptibility."

The researchers gathered data on childhood and adult exposures, along with blood samples and mammograms, from 263 women. Terry and her colleagues looked at an epigenetic effect called DNA methylation, whereby DNA is tagged by a molecular "methyl" fragment, which alters activation of the genes. In this instance, the researchers looked at global hypomethylation aberrant methylation throughout the entirety of a person's DNA.

The researchers found differences in global DNA hypomethylation depending on breast cancer risk factors including racial group, smoking status, and infant and childhood size. "Birth size in particular has been correlated with breast cancer later in life, but nobody really knows why," Terry pointed out. "This is a small pilot study to look at one possible mechanism."

Other correlating factors included ethnic group and smoking or nonsmoking status. Twenty-one percent of whites, 39 percent of blacks, and 13 percent of Hispanics were in the highest quartile, while 35 percent current smokers were in the highest quartile compared with 15 percent former smokers and 26 percent of women who never smoked.

The researchers also plan to look at gene-specific hypermethylation in a variety of different genes that might be important for breast cancer, according to Terry.

Terry notes that although this pilot study used a very diverse sample, it was still a relatively small group, and the next step is a much larger study using samples from hundreds of women. Such an effort is currently in progress.

"We're going to try to see if we find these patterns holding up in a much larger sample now," Terry said. "We see this as a first step to understand why measures from birth might be related to adult disease much later in life."

The mission of the American Association for Cancer Research is to prevent and cure cancer. Founded in 1907, AACR is the world's oldest and largest professional organization dedicated to advancing cancer research. The membership includes more than 25,000 basic, translational, and clinical researchers; health care professionals; and cancer survivors and advocates in the United States and more than 70 other countries. AACR marshals the full spectrum of expertise from the cancer community to accelerate progress in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer through high-quality scientific and educational programs. It funds innovative, meritorious research grants. The AACR Annual Meeting attracts over 17,000 participants who share the latest discoveries and developments in the field. Special Conferences throughout the year present novel data across a wide variety of topics in cancer research, diagnosis and treatment. AACR publishes five major peer-reviewed journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Its most recent publication, CR, is a magazine for cancer survivors, patient advocates, their families, physicians, and scientists. It provides a forum for sharing essential, evidence-based information and perspectives on progress in cancer research, survivorship and advocacy.

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Yeast infections can be dangerous if left untreated - the candida and bacteria associated with it can get into the blood stream from where it may find its way to other parts of the body leading to sore joints, chest pain, sinus problems and worse.

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