Posts Tagged 'health'

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


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





Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday and Sunday blogs appear as a Health and Wellness Weekly. Please see

Not Just Your Grandma’s Disease

No doubt about it. We are an aging population with increasing risks for illnesses of old age. But did you know that by 2020 half of those over 50 will be at risk for fractures due to poor bone health?


In 2004, 10 million American over 50 had osteoporosis and another 34 million were at risk for developing it. Osteoporosis puts an individual at risk for fractures, often from a low-trauma incident. Fractures are a leading cause of hospital admissions and disability among older individuals.


Osteoporosis is caused by loss of minerals from your bones. It results in bones that are weakened by holes or spaces, something like how a termite weakens wood. Osteoporosis risk factors include:


  • Getting older
  • Being small and thin
  • Having a family history of osteoporosis
  • Taking certain medicines
  • Being a white or Asian woman
  • Having osteopenia, which is low bone mass


Osteoporosis used to be thought of as an old woman’s disease. But not any more! Now we know that everyone needs to be thinking about bone health from an early age. Osteoporosis is a silent disease. Often the first sign is a fracture. You can’t do anything about your heredity. But osteoporosis can be prevented or minimized by taking control of your lifestyle.


  • Get enough calcium and Vitamin D, at every age.
  • Be physically active.
  • Talk with your healthcare provider about your medications. As if they may be weakening your bones.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being UNDERWEIGHT raises your risk of bone loss.
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking raises your risk of bone loss.
  • Limit alcohol use. Alcohol may increase the risk of bone loss.


Health – it’s about prevention.


For more about osteoporosis see



Senior Health 


NOT A Death Sentence

Saturday’s NY Times had an article about an English woman who has multiple sclerosis (MS). Multiple Sclerosis was not the focus of the article. Assisted suicide was the focus. LINK  But the article reminded me that March 2 – 8, 2009 is National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week. So I thought I’d spend some time writing about MS.


Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that affects the nervous system: the brain, spinal cord and the nerves that come from them. The nervous system is covered by the myelin sheath, which acts as a protection for the nerves and also speeds the conduction of electrical impulses. The nervous system sends messages from the brain to the muscles and organs and back again by using low level electrical impulses.


MS damages the myelin sheath. This causes the electrical impulses to move slower or to move in an abnormal way. The result may be symptoms such as


  • Visual disturbances.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Trouble with coordination and balance.
  • Sensations such as numbness, prickling, or “pins and needles”.
  • Thinking and memory problems.


Multiple Sclerosis generally begins in young adulthood, between 20 and 40. Women are more often affected than men. The cause of MS is unknown, but many researchers suspect that it is an auto-immune disease. An auto-immune disease is a disease in which the body, for an unknown reason, begins attacking itself.


Some people with MS experience only mild symptoms, while others have very severe symptoms.


There are four “types” of MS:

  • Relapsing-Remitting MS – symptoms come and go, sometimes leaving residual effects, sometime not. About 85% of people with MS have this type.
  • Primary Progressive MS – disability is progressive without remission. About 10% of people with MS have this type.
  • Secondary Progressive MS – at first symptoms come and go but then the course of the disease become progressive without real remissions.
  • Progressive Relapsing MS – disability progresses without remissions, but there are episodes of acute symptom increase. This is the least common type of MS.



There is no cure for multiple sclerosis. However, MS IS manageable. It is not a death sentence.

YouTube videos:

     The Face of MS

     Famous People Who Have MS



To find out more about MS see:



National Multiple Sclerosis Society

Thoughts On Business, The Economy And A Silver Lining

When most articles and items in the news seem designed to add to the individual’s and the nation’s stress, there it was, in print and on the Web, the silver lining. Well, OK, maybe the lining is a little tarnished. But, nevertheless, there is was: an acknowledgement that sometimes good can come from a truly bad situation.


The bad is obviously the recession (even the experts can’t decide either how deep it will go or how long it will last) Link


The silver lining (tarnished) is, well, the recession.


I’ve blogged a lot about stress (just put stress into the search box on the lower right side of this blog). Stress really is a subtle killer. One of the major contributors to America’s stress overload has been our focus on work and consumption. The Jones’ have a 54 inch TV in the living room! Well, the Smiths’ new “must have” (how I loathe that cliché!) is a bigger TV in the living room AND one in the bedroom. Just work extra hours! Who needs sleep? Why waste time on the kids or community or friends or exercise? De-stress with a beverage or comfort food or a smoke or a pill. But keep on working those extra hours for that bigger TV (or bigger house or second SUV or designer watch).


Did anyone ever stop to think just how nuts this is? Working extra hours to have something you don’t have the time to enjoy. When are you going to enjoy it? One week out of the year as you alternate between your cell phone and laptop and run from one “must see” tourist site to another?


Well, the recession may be a cure for all that.


It’s called furloughs or enforced fewer hours. Along with the reduction in pay comes more time for leisure (family, friends, community – remember?).


“Now she’s nuts,” you’re thinking. Along with a reduction in pay comes more stress – the mortgage, healthcare, oh, and food. Like one woman mentioned in the Times article, you might have to give up your only luxury – smoking!


I did say the silver lining was a bit tarnished. There would certainly be belt tightening. But as long as the reduced hours don’t eliminate benefits, the belt tightening may reduce stress.


  • Exercise: It costs nothing (well, maybe new sneakers) to walk or take up running. Now you have the time. Walk instead of ride.
  • Belt tightening: Use the library instead of buying books or DVDs.
  • Community: Matter of fact, volunteer at your library! Or the hospital or animal shelter.
  • Friends: Take that friend walking and talk about sports or fashion or celebrities or technology instead of going to a sporting event or shopping or a show or just e-mailing.
  • Family: Remember board games and cards? Does your child’s teacher know who you are? Another place to volunteer!


Well, you understand. I’m neither naive nor independently wealthy. I know how much things cost today and that a reduction in income REALLY hurts. But if the basics are covered, look at the new found time as a gift. Who knows? It may extend your life.

More Than Just A Relationship Breaker

What is a common risk factor for:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart beats
  • Obesity


Sleep apnea is a common risk factor for all of the above. The first indication of sleep apnea may be your partner complaining of loud snoring. Listen to your partner’s complaints. You may have sleep apnea.


Sleep apnea is defined as one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. The most common type of sleep apnea (and the cause that results in snoring) is obstructive sleep apnea. As the name implies, obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage in the airway. As you try to draw air around the obstruction and into your lungs, the air causes a loud noise – snoring. People who are overweight often have obstructive sleep apnea. The sleep apnea then increases the chance of gaining more weight. The increased weight gain is due to the presence of the stress hormones that the body releases in response to the difficulty breathing. These same hormones increase your heart rate, which increases your risk of heart attack, heart failure, high blood pressure and irregular heart beats.


The other type of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea. In this type, your brain doesn’t send the normal signals to your sleep muscles. So, you don’t breath for a while. Your brain begins to send the right signals when your body realizes that it is low on oxygen. You may gasp as you begin breathing once more. Snoring is usually absent with central sleep apnea. However, stress hormones are released just as they are with obstructive sleep apnea.


Sleep apnea results in disturbances of the sleep cycle. These disturbances cause very brief, often unnoticed, interruptions in sleep. The resulting loss of sleep causes daytime sleepiness, which has been related to driving and other accidents.


Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea, both with and without snoring are:


  • Morning headaches
  • Memory or learning problems and not being able to concentrate
  • Feeling irritable, depressed, or having mood swings or personality changes
  • Urination at night
  • A dry throat when you wake up


If you think you have sleep apnea, consult you healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may refer you to a sleep specialist. Only a physician can diagnose sleep apnea. Treatment may include devices to help you sleep, lifestyle changes or surgery.


Sleep apnea is not just a snoring joke or a relationship breaker. Sleep apnea can cause medical problems or make them worse. It can seriously affect your life.


If you think you have sleep apnea, consult you healthcare provider.



For more information click on these links.


American Sleep Apnea Association

Mary Lou Bernardo, PhD, MSN


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