Health Topics

Colorectal Cancer: 101

Colorectal cancer is a disease in which cells in the colon or rectum grow out of control. Sometimes it is called colon cancer, for short. The colon is the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum is the passageway that connects the colon to the anus.

Sometimes abnormal growths, called polyps, form in the colon or rectum. Over time, some polyps may turn into cancer. Screening tests can find polyps so they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment works best.

Your risk of getting colorectal cancer increases as you get older. Other risk factors include having—

  • Inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.
  • A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).

Lifestyle factors that may contribute to an increased risk of colorectal cancer include—

  • Lack of regular physical activity.
  • A diet low in fruit and vegetables.
  • A low-fiber and high-fat diet, or a diet high in processed meats.
  • Overweight and obesity.
  • Alcohol consumption.
  • Tobacco use.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) recommends that adults age 45 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer. People at an increased risk of getting colorectal cancer should talk to their doctor about when to begin screening, which test is right for them, and how often to get tested.

Several screening tests can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer. It is important to know that if your test result is positive or abnormal on some screening tests (stool tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and CT colonography), a colonoscopy test is needed to complete the screening process. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you.


Men's Health Month

The month of June is National Men’s Health Month and we urge all boys and men to stay healthy by eating right, exercising, and seeking regular medical checkups to prevent disease and injury so they may live long and healthy lives.

Men’s health is not just a ‘man’s issue’, it’s a family issue. Men’s health can impact everyone around them: wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, etc.

So the question is, what can men do to be healthier? The answer? Simple: Take action!

Eat healthy – Add more fruits and vegetables into your diet and try to limit eating foods that are high in calories, sugar, salt, and fat.
Get moving – Make a personal goal to reach 2 ½ hours of physical activity per week. Participate in activities you enjoy will help you to stay motivated.
Quit tobacco - Tobacco smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S. and the primary cause of COPD and lung cancer.
Make prevention a priority – Schedule yearly checkups and regular health screenings with your doctor or local health department. Monthly testicular self-exams are important for the early detection of testicular cancer
Set an example – Consistently pull the above healthy habits together and be a role model for those who may be watching you.


Avoid the Flu This Season

According to the CDC, up to 20% of Americans get the flu each year. More than 200,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized and up to 49,000 deaths are flu-related. These statistics would decrease if more people took advantage of the opportunity to prevent flu with a flu shot.

Because the peak flu season may begin as early as October and run through May, the best time to get a flu shot is in September or October. Be sure to put a reminder on your calendar.

Tips for flu prevention:
- The single best way to prevent seasonal influenza is to get vaccinated.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, or with others if you are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean your hands frequently.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- Practice other good health habits, such as getting plenty of sleep, being physically active, managing your stress, drinking plenty of fluids and eating nutritious foods.

Diabetes: Know Your Numbers

Individuals with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes are more likely to have high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, and, of course, high blood sugar. They are also likely to be overweight/obese. All of these factors increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and other serious health complications.

If you have prediabetes or diabetes, it is crucial to carefully monitor blood cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight as a first step in controlling the disease and improving the quality of your health.

Maybe you are not experiencing any symptoms. Why is monitoring these numbers still important? Keep in mind that there are no symptoms for people with prediabetes, and diabetes may be severe before there are any warning signs. Likewise, people have no way of knowing they have high cholesterol or high blood pressure without being tested.

"Next time you visit your health care provider, be sure to ask for your critical health numbers to be screened and develop a plan, which may include diet, exercise and medication, to manage them," said Daniel W. Jones, M.D. and past president of the American Heart Association.

How Critical Numbers are Monitored

By drawing blood, your health care provider can conduct a blood lipid profile to check your blood cholesterol and glucose tests to check your blood sugar. Your blood pressure and weight are even easier to check with a blood pressure monitor and scales respectively.

Between doctor visits, you can monitor and track your blood sugar, blood pressure, and body weight. Easy-to-use home glucose monitors, blood pressure monitors, and bathroom scales are readily available at retailers and pharmacies. By keeping track of your numbers on your own, you will be able to better manage your health.

Target Numbers

It is recommended that individuals keep these critical health numbers within the following ranges:

Blood sugar - The amount of sugar (glucose) in the blood
Prediabetes - HbA1c (glycosylated hemoglobin) less than 6%
Diabetes - HbA1c (glycosylated hemoglobin) less than 7%

Blood sugar is also measured by the amount of glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in your blood. An HbA1c test gives you a picture of your average blood sugar control for the past 2 to 3 months and provides you with a better idea of how well your diabetes treatment plan is working.

Blood pressure - The force of blood against the arteries when the heart beats and rests
Less than 130/80 mm Hg

Blood pressure is typically measured by a device that uses the height of a column of mercury (Hg) to reflect the circulating systolic and diastolic pressures. Systolic pressure (top number) is the peak pressure in the arteries, and diastolic pressure (bottom number) is the lowest pressure.

Blood cholesterol - A waxy substance produced by the liver
A total cholesterol score of less than 180 mg/dL is considered optimal.

Because cholesterol is unable to dissolve in the blood, it has to be transported to and from the cells by carriers called lipoproteins. Low-density lipoprotein (or LDL) cholesterol, is known as "bad" cholesterol; high-density lipoprotein (or HDL) cholesterol, is known as "good" cholesterol.

Body weight - A body mass index (BMI) of 18.6-24.9

Waistline smaller than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men

A person's ideal body weight varies by gender, age, height, and frame. Your body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference provide good indicators of whether you are at a healthy weight. Use our BMI calculator tool.

If your critical numbers are not at the target level, work with your health care provider to develop a plan to reach these goals.