Becoming Smoke Free

It is no secret that smoking is bad for your health. Smoking has negative effects on nearly every organ in your body, and it has been connected with more than two dozen diseases and conditions. In fact, smoking tobacco is the number one cause of preventable deaths in Canadians, and it impacts the health of people of all ages—from unborn babies to seniors. About 48,000 people in Canada die from tobacco use each year. Every single day, about 125 Canadians die due to a smoking-related illness.

Smoking increases the risk of coronary artery disease and stroke by two to four times, and it increases the risk of lung cancer by about 25 times. Smoking also contributes to problems with vision, fertility, dental health, bone health, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 2 diabetes. Adults who don’t smoke but are exposed to secondhand smoke can develop many of the same health problems that affect smokers.

Smoking during pregnancy can cause tissue damage in a developing baby and may increase the risk of miscarriage. Babies whose mothers smoked while pregnant and babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Is vaping safer? Maybe not. Vaping may reduce overall health risks to an adult who switches completely from smoking tobacco to vaping nicotine.  However, vaping it is not harmless.  When inhaled by vaping, nicotine is absorbed through the lungs and moves quickly through the bloodstream, entering the brain and other organs, just as it does with smoking. Vaping can damage blood vessels and increases the risk of heart disease. Plus, it can irritate the throat and lead to lung diseases like asthma and emphysema. Kids and teens who vape are particularly at risk of the harmful effects of nicotine, because their brains are still developing.  They may be more susceptible to becoming addicted to nicotine and at lower levels of exposure than adults. Ultimately, it may also lead them to smoking cigarettes.

Is now your time to quit?  Need some help?

May 31 is World No Tobacco Day. Why not make that the day you decide to quit?

Quitting smoking isn’t easy, but it is possible, and London Drugs can help you. Ask our pharmacists about scheduling a Smoking Cessation Consultation. During this free meeting, your pharmacist will provide you with practical tips and advice on quitting and will work with you to develop a personalized plan to help you quit. The pharmacist can also recommend non-prescription medications to help you quit successfully or suggest prescription drugs you should talk to your doctor about.  In British Columbia, the BC Pharmacare Smoking Cessation Program is available to help cover the costs of these medications.


Don’t wait—now is the perfect time to make the decision to take control of your health. Speak to your local London Drugs pharmacist to find out how they can help you today, tomorrow, or whenever you are ready.



Risks of vaping –

Health risks of vaping-handout (final) (

Government of Canada. Calendar of health promotion days

Government of Canada. Smoking and Your Body

CDC. Health Effects of Cigarette Smoking

CDC. Smoking During Pregnancy

CDC. Health Problems Caused by Secondhand Smoke

Government of Canada. Tobacco and premature death

Government of Canada. Risks of vaping

Government of Canada. Quitting Smoking: Deciding to Quit

Know yourself: cancer self-exams

Early diagnosis of cancer improves outcomes by starting treatment at the earliest possible stage when treatment is most likely to be successful. An important step in early diagnosis is spotting changes in your body and bringing them to the attention of your doctor so the reason for the changes can be identified. Self-exams play an important role in helping you spot changes. A good place to start is with your skin.

Skin self-exam

When caught early, skin cancer is highly curable. The best way to recognize changes to your skin is to examine yourself head-to-toe every month.

What to look for:

• A new growth or an existing growth that changes in size and appears pearly, transparent, tan, brown, black, or multicoloured

• A mole, birthmark, or brown spot that gets larger than a pencil eraser, becomes thicker, or changes in texture or colour

• A spot or sore that continues to itch, hurt, bleed, crust, or scab

• An open sore that does not heal within three weeks

How perform a skin self-exam:

• Inspect your face, especially your nose, mouth, and the front and back of your ears. Use mirrors to get a clear view.

• Thoroughly inspect your scalp. Use a blow dryer to separate your hair and expose every section of your scalp so you can view it with a mirror. It may be easier if you can get a family member or friend to help.

• Scan your hands and arms. Look at your palms, the back of your hands, and between your fingers. Continue up your wrists and arms, and don’t forget your underarms.

• Check your torso. Start with your neck and move down to your chest, including the undersides of your breasts, then your abdomen.

• Inspect your back. Stand with your back to a full-length mirror and hold a hand mirror, moving it as needed so you can view your whole back, including your neck, shoulders, upper back, lower back, and buttocks.

• Examine your genitals using a hand mirror.

• Scan your legs, front and back, using a hand mirror where necessary. Start at your thighs, move down your shins to your ankles, and finish with your feet, including the soles and your toes.

Breast self-exam

There is some debate about the value of breast self-exams in detecting breast cancer early when treatment has the best chance of being successful. While some healthcare professionals question the value of these exams, many physicians and health-related organizations firmly believe that breast self-exams are an important screening tool, especially when used in combination with regular physical exams by a doctor, mammograms, and sometimes ultrasound or an MRI.

What to look for:

• A change in size, colour, or shape of the breast

• Any lump, swelling, or distortion

• Breasts that are unevenly shaped

• Dimpling, puckering, or bulging skin

• Redness, soreness, or rash

• A nipple that has changed position or turned inward instead of sticking out

• Signs of fluid coming out of one or both nipples

How to perform a breast self-exam:

• Begin by standing in front of a mirror with your shoulders straight and your hands on your hips, and inspect your breasts carefully, turning from side to side so you can see all areas of your breasts. Alternatively, you can perform the exam while lying down using a hand mirror. If you do it lying down, your breast tissue will spread out and become thinner, making it easier to feel what’s below the skin. Another option is to do it in the shower with your breasts lathered, making it easier for your fingers to glide smoothly across your skin.

• Using the pads of your fingers, not your finger tips, examine your left breast with your right hand and your right breast with your left hand. Keeping your fingers flat and together, use a circular motion to feel for anything unusual. Cover the whole breast area from your collarbone to the top of your abdomen and from your armpit to your cleavage.

Testicular self-exam

A testicular self-exam is a simple pain-free test that helps a male become familiar with his testicles so he will be able to notice any changes.

What to look for:

• A lump

• Pain or swelling in the scrotum

• Any change in size, shape, tenderness, or sensation

• A soft collection of thin tubes above the testicles

• A testicle that you cannot feel because it has not properly descended into the scrotum

How to perform a testicular self-exam:

• This test is best performed standing, either during or just after a shower when the scrotal skin is warm and relaxed.

• Gently feel the scrotal sac to locate the testicles.

• Using one hand to stabilize the testicle, use the fingers and thumb of the other hand to firmly but gently feel the entire surface of the testicle.

• Repeat the procedure on the other testicle.

The next step

Self-exams are just the first step in the early diagnosis of any health problem. If you notice anything unusual or anything that concerns you, see your doctor for further testing to identify the cause of the issue. That way, if there is a problem, it can be addressed at a stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.

Read other articles in our Fall-Winter 2021 volume of our Bettercare magazine here.


Asthma – London Drugs bettercare

As easy as breathing. It sounds like such a simple thing, but if you have asthma, breathing is not simple at all. Asthma is a chronic lung condition in which the airways are extra sensitive, which causes them to react by narrowing, making breathing difficult.


Asthma can occur in people of any age, but it usually strikes for the first time during childhood. At least 12% of Canadian children and 8.4% of the population age 12 and over have been diagnosed with the condition. Asthma is the leading cause of absenteeism from school and the third leading cause of work loss.

The first signs are often a cough or slight shortness of breath, especially after exercise. Other common signs are wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. One in three children has at least one episode of wheezing by the third birthday and close to half will have an episode by the sixth birthday. About half of preschool children with wheezing will outgrow the problem. The symptoms can be similar to the symptoms of allergic reactions, bronchitis, or postnasal drip, so your doctor may want to perform some tests to rule out other breathing problems and to make sure that your problem is asthma before beginning treatment.

Once your doctor is sure that your problem is asthma, you can plan to control the symptoms. The first step is to develop an action plan, a series of instructions that your doctor will customize for you. Your action plan should be in writing, and you should make sure you understand it completely. It will include instructions on when you should contact the doctor, under what circumstances you should adjust your medication, when you should go to the hospital, and what you should do on the way.

Asthma Medicines

Medication will play a large part in helping you manage your asthma. There are two main types of medication you will become familiar with: anti-inflammatory drugs (also known as preventers) and bronchodilators (also known as relievers or rescue drugs).

Anti-inflammatory medications help to prevent attacks by reducing inflammation, swelling, and mucus in the airways. This prevents symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and breathlessness. In order for these medications to work, you must take them on a regular basis. Preventer medicines act slowly and will not stop an asthma attack.

Bronchodilators relieve the spasms in the muscles surrounding the airways that bring on sudden symptoms. They are taken once an asthma attack has started, and they work by relaxing the tight muscles that narrow the breathing passages. With the muscles more relaxed, air can move more easily through the airways. Because the regular, frequent use of bronchodilator therapy may actually worsen asthma, one of the goals of treatment is to prevent symptoms, reducing the need for these drugs.

It is crucial that you use your inhaler properly, or you won’t get the maximum benefit from it. If you have any questions about using your inhaler, your London Drugs pharmacist can help.

Your Asthma Diary

Taking your medication is important, but it is not the whole story. The medicines help you control your asthma symptoms, but they cannot cure the condition. Fortunately, there are a number of other steps you can take to help manage your asthma so you can lead a full, active life. One important component of an asthma management program is to keep an asthma diary. This is really very easy to do, and it will help you pinpoint the factors that trigger your asthma attacks as well as help you chart the progress of your treatment.

To maintain an asthma diary, you will need to measure your breathing with a peak flow meter. Record this measurement in your asthma diary along with the date and time of the reading. It can also be helpful to record how you feel at the time of the test (for example, “no difficulty breathing” or “chest feels tight”) and to record what you ate and what activities you participated in around the time of the reading (for example, “rode bicycle for half an hour then ate a chocolate bar”). Keeping track of your symptoms and what you ate and what you were doing when they occurred will help you identify those things that trigger your body to have an asthma attack.
It will also help you keep track of how well your medication is working so you and your doctor can decide whether your treatment plan needs to be modified.

Identifying Your Triggers

Many things can trigger an asthma attack, and they vary from person to person. Asthma triggers fall into two main categories: allergic triggers and non-allergic triggers. Allergic triggers include pollen, mould, animal dander, dust mites, and some foods. Non-allergic triggers include smoke, fumes, perfumes, weather conditions, intense emotions, infections, exercise, and some medications. If you aren’t sure whether any of the medicines you take could trigger asthma symptoms, talk with your London Drugs pharmacist.

It would be wonderful if you could identify all of your triggers and avoid them, but that isn’t usually possible. It would be difficult to avoid all pollen or smoke, and it would be next to impossible to avoid all emotional situations or weather conditions. However, if you know what your triggers are, you can do a lot to reduce your exposure to them. For example, if grass pollen triggers your asthma, you can stay indoors when the grass is being cut; if perfume is one of your triggers, you can look for unscented products and avoid perfumes and colognes; if cold air causes you problems, you can try skating in an indoor rink.

Another important factor in controlling asthma is to remain physically fit, because exercise helps to improve the respiratory system. However, people with asthma have to be careful to prepare properly before beginning an activity. This may mean adjusting the medication, so it is important to discuss your plans with your doctor before beginning an exercise program or participating in a sport.

Sometimes You Need a Change

As long as you can maintain good control of your asthma symptoms, you and your doctor will probably continue with the action plan you developed at the start of your treatment program. However, sometimes the plan needs to be adjusted as the treatment progresses. There are signs you should watch for that will indicate that a treatment change might be necessary.

Be alert to the following and tell your doctor if:

  • your symptoms begin to interfere with your daily activities
  • your reliever medicine doesn’t provide complete relief or if you have to increase the amount you use to get relief
  • your peak flow readings drop
  • you begin to have difficulty exercising
  • you experience shortness of breath when you haven’t been exercising
  • you have persistent tightness in your chest or morning wheezing
  • you awaken more than two nights in a row coughing or wheezing.

Sometimes your asthma may require immediate medical attention. Call your doctor or visit the emergency room immediately if:

  • you have a severe asthma attack
  • you get chest pains
  • you begin to cough and cannot stop
  • your oral temperature rises above 38º C (100º F) during an asthma attack.

Your Pharmacist

There are many ways your London Drugs pharmacist can help you manage your
asthma, such as:

  • explaining how and when to take your medication
  • demonstrating how to use inhaler devices and peak flow meters
  • clarifying your doctor’s instructions
  • advising on over-the-counter medicines that are appropriate for people with asthma.

If you have any questions about your condition or the medicines you take, remember that your pharmacists are here to help you.

Above all, there is one thing to remember about asthma: You can control it. If you follow your treatment plan, take your medicine properly, identify your triggers and minimize your exposure to them, and stay physically fit, you can lead a full and active life.

Hepatitis C screening urged for all Canadians born between 1945 and 1975

London Drugs now offers accessible hepatitis C screening at locations in BC and Alberta

London Drugs Pharmacist. Get tested. Get Treated. Get Cured. Hepatitis C Screening Clinics.

Nine in ten people living with viral hepatitis are unaware that they have the life-threatening infection because it can take decades before symptoms become evident. New testing guidelines recommend that all Canadians born between 1945 and 1975 get screened. There is an elevated risk among that age group due to inferior infection prevention and control practices, and blood products that went unscreened prior to 1992.

Anyone can now be screened for hepatitis C with the simple finger prick test at London Drugs locations throughout BC and Alberta.  The test, called the OraQuick HCV rapid antibody test, is more than 99% accurate at detecting HCV antibodies and provides results in 20 minutes. The cost of the test is $24.

In the case of a positive antibody result, pharmacists will notify the patient’s family physician so that a confirmatory blood test can be ordered.  In the case of a positive result, the patient is referred to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment.  Pharmacists provide education about the curative therapies available and support patients throughout their journey from treatment to cure. The treatment is relatively simple; it involves taking antiviral medications daily for eight to 12 weeks. Current therapies can cure over 95% of people with hepatitis C.

In an effort to improve access to testing and treatment for the potentially liver-destroying virus, and reduce the stigma associated with the blood-borne illness, London Drugs is hosting hepatitis C screening events at London Drugs locations leading up to World Hepatitis Day on July 28th, 2019. Hepatitis C Educators will be at stores to help increase awareness about the need for screening. These specially trained pharmacists will be offering expert advice and encouraging testing, particularly among higher-risk populations. A complete list of event times and locations can be found here.

#BestDayEver : A Home Cooked Meal at Canuck Place

Canuck Place #BestDayEver

At three months old, Kaitlin Sidhu was diagnosed with semilobal holoprosencephaly, a rare brain malformation that can result in muscle spasms, seizures, and deformities. On the heels of this devastating news was a cancer diagnosis, which meant baby Kaitlin spent most of the first three years of her life in hospital.

A devastating experience for any family. Parents, Amanda and Robert thought they’d exhausted their medical avenues. But then, they were introduced Dr. Hal Siden and Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. “He came into the room, looked Kaitlin over and listened to everything she’d been through. He had some ideas of what we could do to reduce her pain and symptoms and we felt so relived there were options out there,” said mom, Amanda.

But, becoming part of Canuck Place was scary, “because it’s a hospice,” said Amanda. “Most people think ‘end of life.’” But that wasn’t Kaitlin’s case. Canuck Place could offer Kaitlin help with pain and symptom management and could provide her parents with much-needed respite.

“The best memory and feeling I have from my first experience with Canuck Place is that very first day we walked through the doors. It was an instant sense of relief. We were surrounded by a huge team who were there to look after our little girl, and our family.”

Like any home, the kitchen is central to Canuck Place. After months of eating hospital cafeteria food and pre-made Safeway meals the Sidhus were ready for some Canuck Place TLC. “I remember that first night we stayed at Canuck Place. It was amazing the spread that the kitchen and the chefs made for us.”

Kaitlin and her family’s first stay at Canuck Place was for six weeks. They never once worried about how to get breakfast, lunch or dinner. All those details were taken care of so that the family could focus on helping Kaitlin.

“I remember having a really bad day. A staff member knocked on my door with a full plate of my favourite cookies and it just made my day. It was amazing!”

Without Canuck Place in their lives, Amanda says her family may have fallen apart. Kaitlin had spent so much time in a hospital and Canuck Place was where the family could reunite and share time and space together. “Canuck Place saved our family, for sure.”

Something as small as a home-cooked meal can nourish the spirit. When was the last time you let someone do something special for you?

London Drugs is proud to be supporting Canuck Place by providing meals for the residents and families at the hospice. You can support Canuck Place families by visiting your local London Drugs* store and providing a donation during the month of July. 

*BC Locations only.

Hepatitis C screening now offered at five Calgary London Drugs locations


Hepatitis C screening now offered at five Calgary London Drugs locations

Unique collaboration between doctors and pharmacists expands access to
hepatitis C screening and treatment in Calgary

Hepatitis C screening now offered at five London Drugs locations in Calgary, helping to make testing and treatment for the potentially liver-destroying virus more accessible. Patients can now undertake a simple finger prick test at the pharmacy to check if they have been exposed to hepatitis C virus (HCV).  The test, called the OraQuick HCV rapid antibody test, is more than 99 per cent accurate at detecting HCV antibodies and provides results in 20 minutes.

According to Alberta Health Services (AHS), an estimated 24,000 Albertans live with chronic hepatitis C and many are unaware they harbor the blood-borne virus because it can take decades before symptoms become evident.

“You can carry this infection for decades in your liver and actually have no symptoms at all – until the end stages of the disease. That’s why screening and early diagnosis is critically important,” says Dr. Matthew Sadler, a physician at the Foothills Medical Centre’s Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and clinical assistant professor at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine. “Offering hepatitis C screening in the community helps increase awareness of the disease, and expands access to treatment by offering a point-of-care testing option that some, such as those without a family doctor, may find more convenient,” he says.

Recent guidelines published by the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver recommend that all Canadians born between 1945 and 1975 get tested.

“Making hepatitis C screening quick and convenient right in the pharmacy and working collaboratively with doctors, we can ensure those who test positive will get the treatment and follow-up care they need,” says Aaron Lo, Pharmacy Manager at London Drugs.

“There is a lot of misinformation about hepatitis C. The cure rate is above 95 per cent now and the treatment is relatively simple. It involves taking antiviral medications daily for eight to 12 weeks,” says Lo.

Hepatitis C screening is available at the following London Drugs locations in Calgary. Patients should call the pharmacy to book an appointment. The cost of the test is $24.


First Calgary SE

4701 – 130th Avenue. SE

Calgary, Alberta, T2Z 4J2


Pharmacy: (403) 257-6850

London Town Square

3545 – 32nd Avenue NE

Calgary, Alberta T1Y 6M6


Pharmacy: (403) 250-8492


Beddington Towne Centre

8120 Beddington Blvd NW

Calgary, Alberta T3K 2A8


Pharmacy: (403) 275-4804


Stephen Ave LD Express

230 – 8 Avenue SW

Calgary, Alberta T2P 1B5


Pharmacy: (403) 351-0645


London Place West

5255 Richmond Road SW

Calgary, Alberta T3E 7C4


Pharmacy: (403) 240-1235









Health Tips Video: How to Manage Diabetes for a Long, Healthy Life

Tips to manage diabetes for a long and healthy life

Diabetes is a serious medical condition that affects over 2.1 million people in Canada. There are different types of diabetes, but all forms affect the body’s ability to manage blood sugar levels with insulin. Either the body has difficulty producing insulin in the pancreas (Type 1), or it cannot properly use the insulin it does produce (Type 2). There is also a temporary type of diabetes that can affect women during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes affects 2-4% of pregnancies and means that both mother and child have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes later in life.

Thankfully, there are many ways to manage diabetes. According to London Drugs pharmacist Sangita Tumber, it is important for people with diabetes to:

  • Interpret blood sugar patterns
  • Eat well
  • Get physical activity
  • Safely inject insulin
  • Adjust dosage if needed

Track Your Blood Sugar

How to manage diabetes for a long and healthy life

Tracking your blood sugar can keep you on track. The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends that people using insulin test their blood sugar levels regularly. People with Type 2 diabetes who aren’t using insulin may also want to self-monitor their blood sugar levels. It’s easy to do this at home with a blood glucose monitor.

Eat Well and Exercise

You can manage diabetes and live a long, healthy life

Food choices, especially related to alcohol and sweets, can greatly affect blood sugar levels. This is why nutrition is so important for people with diabetes, especially Type 2. Exercise can also lower your blood sugar and help insulin work more effectively.

Work with Your Healthcare Professionals

The most important thing you can do to manage your diabetes is to form a partnership with your healthcare professionals, says Tumber. They can help you monitor your diabetes and teach you how to track sugar levels and inject insulin safely. Prevention is key when it comes to avoiding long-term complications.

It really is possible to live a long and healthy life with diabetes. It just takes some knowledge and care. The best weapon to managing this chronic condition is education. That’s why London Drugs has Certified Diabetes Educators at select locations to help you better understand this disease. These are pharmacists with national certification as diabetes experts.

These Certified Diabetes Educators can also assist you in a variety of languages, including Cantonese, Punjabi, Mandarin, and Korean, depending on location. Language shouldn’t be a barrier when it comes to understanding the steps you need to take to manage your health.

To learn more about diabetes and managing the condition, visit the London Drugs Health Library online or talk to a Certified Diabetes Educator at select London Drugs locations.

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