A Well Kept Secret: Little Known Benefits

of colonoscopy:

#4. Several hours of deep, dreamless sleep

#3. Colonic cleansing (in the privacy of your own home!)

#2. Twenty-four hours of a clear liquid fast (without going to a spa!)

#1. Screening for colorectal cancer, the fourth most common cancer among American men and women.


Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon (the large intestine) or rectum.  It is more common in persons over 50. Other risk factors include:


  • Polyps (growths that may become cancerous) in the colon or rectum
  • A diet high in fat
  • A family or personal history of colorectal cancer
  • Having Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis.


Symptoms of colorectal cancer include:


  • Persistent abdominal pain or pressure
  • A change in bowel habits
  • Blood in the stool.


However, in the early stages, colorectal cancer often causes no symptoms.


Treatment for colorectal cancer depends on the stage and category (or sub-stage) of the cancer.  Stages vary from early, 0, to late, IV (Roman numeral 4).


Categories include:

T: the extent of spread of the cancer through the wall of the colon (from 0 to 4)

N: how far the cancer has spread into the lymph nodes (from 0 to 2)

M: whether or not the cancer has spread to other organs (from 0 to 1).


Treatment may include one or more of the following:


  • Surgery
  • Radiation
  • Chemotherapy.


As with most cancers, the treatment and eventual outcome of colorectal cancer is easiest and best when it is caught early.


At age 50:

Have a stool test for occult (microscopic) blood. Repeat it yearly.

Have a colonoscopy and then repeat the colonoscopy as often as recommended by your healthcare professional.


The number one benefit of colonoscopy is screening for the fourth most common cancer among American men and women, colorectal cancer.



For more information:


National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse




American Cancer Society

With Regrets

I’m sorry to say that because of the demands of my new “real” job I won’t be able to blog every week day. However, my blogs will continue to be researched and referenced and, I hope, a source of health information for many of you.

Saturday and Sunday blogs will continue to appear as a Health and Wellness Weekly. Please see http://www.healthandwellnessweekly.wordpress.com/.

Think those Low-Fat Chips Are Healthy? Think Again

The CDC reports an updated look at an old study. This study, from 2005- 2006, reported that 29% of adults had hypertension (high blood pressure) and 28% of adults had prehypertension (blood pressure higher than normal but not yet high enough to be called high blood pressure). Hypertension is one of the leading contributors to heart disease and stroke.


Excessive salt intake is one of the major contributing factors in hypertension. People already at risk for hypertension should consume no more than 15oomg of salt per day.


Who are the people at risk? African Americans, all adults over 40 and those who already have hypertension. That’s 69.2% of the population. Adults in general should consume no more than 2300mg of salt per day. LINK


Processed foods of all kinds are high in salt. So, re-think those chips!


For more on diet see

Dietary Guidelines






Two recent articles in the New York Times were related to allergies. One brief article agreed that allergies to pollen may lead to food allergies. A longer article discussed an experimental treatment for peanut allergy.


An allergy is your body’s mistaken over-reaction to a common environmental or food source. The source of the allergic reaction is called an allergen or a trigger. Your body mistakenly responds to the allergen as if it were a threat. Your body tries to attack and destroy the allergen by producing antibodies. The antibodies trigger your body to produce histamine. The histamine causes your symptoms.


  • Symptoms may include:
  • A runny nose (rhinitis)
  • Itching (pruritus)
  • Hives (urticaria)
  • A rash
  • Inflammation, redness or swelling
  • Gastro-intestinal upsets such as diarrhea or vomiting


Angioedema is swelling of the tissues below the skin. It can be very serious when this occurs in your throat and mouth.


A severe and life-threatening allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis. This is a reaction that affects your whole body. It is a true emergency and requires immediate medical attention.


While allergy symptoms are cause by an allergen, the underlying cause is an over-sensitive immune system. This over-sensitivity is hereditary.


Allergies can be treated or controlled. The type of treatment depends on the specific allergy and its symptoms.


For more information about allergies see:



American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology

Sometimes Life Just Gets In The Way

Today was one of those days. No blog today. Check back tomorrow!

Diabetes: Part VI – Summary

Diabetes, both Type 1 and Type 2, is a chronic disease that affects your whole body and, quite possibly, your mind.


Diabetes affects your weight (Diabetes: Part II).


Diabetes affects your skin (Diabetes: Part III).


Diabetes affects your nerves (Diabetes: Part IV).


Diabetes affects your heart (Diabetes: Part V).


Diabetes also affects your kidneys, your teeth, your sight and has been related to sleep apnea (More Than Just a Relationship Breaker).


In the United States, the economic cost of diabetes is $174 billion a year.


In 2006 diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. People with diabetes have twice the risk of dying a people of similar age who do not have diabetes.


It’s estimated that 23.6 million people (or 7.8% of the population) have diabetes. In addition, data extrapolation suggests that at least 57 million American adults had prediabetes in 2007.


Prediabetes is a condition in which individuals have fasting blood sugar levels higher than normal (100 mg/dL), but not high enough to be classified as diabetes (200 mg/dL). People with prediabetes have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.




Diabetes is a serious disease. Get checked for it. Prevent it or postpone it by leading a healthy lifestyle.


Health – it’s about prevention.


Today is American Diabetes Alert Day.

A Noteworthy Anniversary

One hundred and twenty-seven years ago tomorrow Dr. Robert Koch made a world shaking announcement. He had found the cause of tuberculosis. On that day, 127 years ago, tuberculosis was killing one out of every seven people in Europe and America. Today tuberculosis (TB) still kills. But it kills more selectively. It kills mainly in the third world where it kills several million people annually.


However, from 1985 to 1992 there was a resurgence of TB in the US and many of the new cases were caused by a bacterium that was resistant to multiple drugs. Now, world-wide, there is the emergence of an extraordinarily drug resistant strain of the TB bacteria. It is virtually untreatable. LINK


TB is spread from person to person, most commonly through the air. It affects mainly the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body.


Symptoms of active pulmonary (lung) TB may include:

  • A bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing up blood or mucus
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Night sweats




Sometimes the TB bacteria are present in someone but the bacteria don’t cause symptoms AND the TB can not be spread to other people. This person will have a skin test that is positive for TB but there will be no evidence of active disease. However, even in this case (called latent TB) treatment is highly advisable. Without treatment to kill the bacteria, you will always be at risk for developing active TB.


The treatment for tuberculosis, both active TB and latent TB, is antibiotics. The antibiotics must be taken daily for at least 6 months. LINK


Tuberculosis was (and, perhaps, still is) known as consumption. In tragic opera it was often the cause of the heroine’s death. TB – consumption – a wasting disease.


If you travel internationally, get tested.


For more information on what to do about TB, see The Stopping TB Partnership.

Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN


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