What is colon cancer? Colon cancer is the number two killer of both men and women in the United States and colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer affecting approximately 150,000 people each year. Although colon cancer has taken and affected the lives of so many, it is preventable and highly curable if caught and treated early on. With the necessary knowledge and preventative care, you can protect yourself from the disease.
The environment in the inner lining of the colon and rectum, also known as the colorectal tube, is conducive for the development of small tumors, called polyps. About one quarter of all adults over the age of 50 living in the U.S. will develop at least one colorectal polyp. Although most polyps are benign and can be removed, they can be precancerous. When the polyp is left untreated, the tumor can grow and the cancer can spread throughout the body.
Several warning signs that can help with early detection include:
Changes in bowel movements such as diarrhea, constipation, a feeling of not being able to completely empty the bowel, frequent bowel movements, rectal bleeding or rectal cramping
Unusual stool that is dark in color, bloody or long and thin (“pencil stools”)
Unexplained fatigue, anemia, extreme and sudden weight loss and/or loss of appetite
Abdominal pain or bloating
Pelvic discomfort (can indicate an advanced stage of the disease)
Since colorectal cancer can produce subtle or no symptoms, it often goes undetected. With an increased risk of colon cancer after the age of 50 and few warning signs, it is crucial that adults have regular colorectal screenings for prevention. If you have questions regarding the disease, symptoms or treatment, please consult your doctor.
The National Nutrition Month theme for 2015 is “Bite into a Healthy Lifestyle.” Understanding what is in food is the key to making informed and healthy choices, however front-of-package nutrition claims, ingredient lists and nutrition facts panels can make any food choice dizzying. Here are a few tips to make the task less daunting.
Instead of relying on front-of-package claims such as “made with real fruit” or “no trans fats,” start by looking at the ingredient list. The ingredient list is the listing of each ingredient in descending order of predominance. For example, if the “made with real fruit” product has corn syrup (a.k.a. sugar) listed as the first ingredient and strawberries are ninth, you can probably decipher that you’re not eating much real fruit. Also, foods can call themselves “trans-fat free” even if they contain up to a half a gram of trans fats.
Is your head swimming yet? Feel like you need a couple extra hours at the grocery store? Try this – skip label reading altogether by selecting whole foods with no labels like apples, tomatoes, broccoli, almonds and walnuts. These foods don’t come with labels because they are what they are – natural, healthy, whole foods. For more information and recipes featured in National Nutrition Month, visit NationalNutritionMonth.org
With heart disease as the number one cause of death for both American men and women, it is important to know all the facts. The first step in protecting you and your loved ones is heart health education.
What is heart disease?
Heart disease encompasses a number of conditions, such as arrhythmias, cardiomyopathy (heart muscle disease), heart valve disease, atrial fibrillation, congenital heart disease, cardiomegaly (enlarged heart) and much more. However, the most common type is coronary heart disease (CHD), also known as coronary artery disease (CAD), which happens when the coronary arteries are either narrow or blocked with a build up of plaque.
Plaque can be caused by a number of things, but the most common culprits are fat and cholesterol in the blood, smoking, too much sugar in the blood and high blood pressure. When the plaque builds up in an artery it can prevent the flow of blood to the heart, which ultimately can cause chest pain or a heart attack.
Although there are many things that can increase your risk; diet, exercise, stress and smoking habits are the most common contributors. It is important to keep these factors in check using preventative care.
Age, gender and family history can also impact your likelihood of heart disease. Though these factors cannot be controlled, it is important to be aware of them and whether or not you fall in any of the following high-risk categories:
Man over age 45
Woman over age 55
Individual with a father or brother that had heart disease before age 55
Individual with a mother or sister that had heart disease before age 65
Many symptoms are subtle and often go undetected until it is too late. Consult a doctor if you have risk factors for heart disease and/or experience any of the following symptoms:
Chest pain (angina)
Shortness of breath
For more information regarding heart disease, risk factors and symptoms, please consult your physician.