Women’s Health Week: Colon cancer isn’t just for men

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From May 14 – 20, the Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to raise awareness around and provide recommendations for women’s health.

The mission of this initiative is to “Provide national leadership and coordination to improve the health of women and girls through policy, education, and model programs.”

Although there are several issues that primarily affect women – cervical, ovarian and breast cancers, mammograms, osteoporosis – women also face risks with digestive issues. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Colon Cancer are just a few of the health concerns of which Women’s Health Week works to increase awareness.

And while the risk for colon cancer is slightly lower in women than in men, almost 5% of women will face a diagnosis this year alone. However, those risks have been decreasing steadily over the past several decades, due almost exclusively to advanced screening capabilities and treatment options.

But we’re not out of the woods just yet: Colon cancer is still the third leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States.

“The old message was that colon cancer was a man’s disease. We have to be careful not to regress in our message to women.” says Sidney J. Winawer, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, to MedPage Today.

So what can women do? Two words: Get screened.

Advancements in technology, research and treatment are only good if we actively opt to utilize them. Most medical professionals recommend that women start their regular colonoscopies at age 50. However, if you have a family history of the disease, or other potential factors such as obesity, smoking and certain ethnicities, your doctor may recommend an earlier start.

For more information on women’s health issues, and National Women’s Health Week in general, WomensHealth.gov. There, you’ll find out how you can get involved, and a comprehensive list of topics that affect women’s health, with information and additional resources for each.

Call to book your colonoscopy today. And remember, screening saves!

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Our favorite recipes that are good for digestion

Everyone knows we love tasty recipes that are good for your gut. Over the years we’ve shared a bunch for different occasions. So we thought we’d revisit our favorites as a yummy reminder of all the goodness you can get while still treating yourself right.

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Toasts

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Not all food that’s good for digestion is rabbit food.

These bites are a little more work than the cauliflower, but the flavor is perfect for a holiday brunch on a cold winter morning. There are a lot of ingredients, but most of them are optional or swap-able. Use whatever fresh herbs you like or have in the fridge, and garnish with sunflower kernels, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds. Serve with a mimosa and you’ve got yourself a party.

Here are the ingredients. 

Sweet Potato Mash

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 12 oz.), peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 red Thai chile (optional), halved, some seeds removed
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Broccoli

  • 1 large head broccoli, stem removed, cut into large florets
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices ¾”-thick crusty bread
  • 2 tablespoons chopped raw pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, divided
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Boil the sweet potatoes to create the mash, roast the broccoli in the meantime, then assemble your toasts and garnish as you like.

Bok Choy with Ginger and Garlic

This stir fry is really versatile, so you can use any type of sturdy, leafy green. Kale and chard hold up well when sauteed, and spinach would wilt nicely as well.

Here are the ingredients.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
8 cups chopped fresh bok choy
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
Salt and ground black pepper

Lentil Soup

Giada De Laurentiis of Food Network fame gives us this simple soup that’s loaded with veggies. It also calls for lentils, which are great for your digestive tract.

There are a few steps in the process, each one easier than the next. You saute carrots, celery and onions, then add tomatoes and broth, boil the lentils and at the very end, add some pasta.

With a recipe like this, you can add any veggies you have. Zucchini and squash would make it a fall favorite. And if there’s something you don’t have, just leave it out.

Here are the ingredients.

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 pound lentils (approximately 1 1/4 cups)
11 cups low-salt chicken broth
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
2/3 cup dried elbow pasta
1 cup shredded Parmesan

Get the directions here.

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Better colonoscopy prep in the works

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Colonoscopy is by far the best way to detect and prevent digestive issues such as colon cancer.

Oh, the colonoscopy. Although it’s the most effective way to detect and thereby prevent colon cancer and other digestive issues, some people are still reluctant to commit to the procedure. Ask just about anyone who’s endured the quick and painless process, and they’ll tell you that the prep is the most difficult part.

Reports the Chicago Tribune: “Data suggest that about 40 percent of the people who should get a colonoscopy don’t, mostly because of the prep,” says Douglas Rex, a distinguished professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine.

A typical colonoscopy involves drinking lots and lots of not-so-tasty liquids followed by lots and lots of trips to the toilet. Nothing is going to change in the toilet department, but the liquids are getting a face lift.

Researchers are experimenting with flavored shakes and bars such as strawberry banana or coconut that have the same effect as the historically dreaded liquid.

“Those drinking the new products were twice as likely as those who used the standard prep solution to be satisfied and four times as likely to recommend it,” says the Tribune.

The products should be available to patients in about two years.

The entire goal of these new prep methods is to get more people to commit to a colonoscopy, as it’s undoubtedly the number one way to detect and prevent cancer, tumors, polyps and other intestinal abnormalities.

“The easier you make it for people, the more you can improve their adherence,” says Susan Czajkowski, chief of the health behaviors research branch of the National Cancer Institute.

“The perfect screen has no value if it isn’t used.”

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Colon cancer rates on the rise in young people

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Listen to your body and be honest with your doctor. Early screening can detect and prevent complications from colon cancer.

As we continue through Colon Cancer Awareness month, our goal is to increase the conversations people have about the disease. Knowing that screenings are by far the most effective way to detect colon cancer early can even work to prevent it altogether.

An unfortunate trend in the fight against colon cancer is a spike in the amount of young people diagnosed. Formerly considered a disease reserved for older men, this new uptick in folks under 40 is disturbing but also mostly unexplained.

“People born in 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer as people born in 1950 faced at the same age,” says CBS New York.

For people of an average risk, the standard age to begin screening for colon cancer is 50. The only problem with that guideline is that younger folks are getting missed, often until it’s too late.

While the medical community struggles to pinpoint the cause of the surge, many speculate that changes in lifestyle and diet are to blame.

“Prime suspects include obesity, inactivity and poor diets,” said researchers from the American Cancer Society.

In other words, the behaviors we know are bad for us, and cause health issues across the board, are the likely culprit in the uptick in colon cancer.

While the statistics are alarming, the overall rates of colon cancer in younger people is still low. But that doesn’t mean there’s no lesson in this – be your own health advocate. Listen to your body and work with your doctor to pinpoint when something is wrong.

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March Madness for Colon Cancer Awareness

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The staff of Troy Gastroenterology, Center for Digestive Health, showing their support for Colon Cancer Awareness Month by dressing in blue on March 3.

Every March, the Colon Cancer Alliance celebrates Colon Cancer Awareness month, to push for more support, research and recognition of the struggle the disease incurs.

We lose more than 50,000 Americans every year to colon cancer, with more and more young people turning up with the disease.

“Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women combined in the United States,” says the CCA.

The good news is, with early screening, detection and even prevention is possible. Most cases of colon cancer appear in folks over the age of 50, which is why the current recommendation for colonoscopy is also age 50. Even then, people with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) are far more likely to develop the cancer than others. For those folks, your doctor might recommend starting your colonoscopy routine even earlier.

How can you help?

Get involved with Colon Cancer Awareness by making a donation. The Salah Foundation matched donations in 2016 to generate more than a quarter million dollars in extra revenue for research.

If you’d rather participate, the CCA hosts the Undy Run/Walk all over the country to raise funds and awareness.

The Never 2 Young campaign is also doing its best to raise awareness about the decreasing age of colon cancer’s victims.

“As the leading national colon cancer patient advocacy organization, we’re dedicated to bringing together the brightest minds to increase screening rates and survivorship,” says N2Y.

This month, show your support for fighters, survivors and family members of folks with colon cancer. Wear blue, join a local event, and donate money. Every little bit counts to get us to a stage of early detection and prevention.

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It’s time to quit smoking for your colon health

Image result for quit smokingWe all know smoking is bad for us. We also know how much it sucks to try to quit. And while you’ve probably heard all of the advice in the world and all of the complications it can cause, now, there’s another reason to quit: Colon cancer recovery.

A new study suggests that folks who smoke aren’t as likely to survive the fight against colon cancer as former smokers or those who never smoked.

And to make matters worse, upon diagnoses, smokers were more likely to be in an emergency situation or need immediate surgery.

“People are generally deniers especially when it comes to pleasurable habits or when a life style change is recommended for their health,” said Dr. Sidney Winawer of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

So what can you do?

The most effective way to quit is to work with your doctor to create a plan or to join a support group. Any time you’re looking to kick a bad habit, having support from a community or partner creates a level of accountability that is difficult to replicate on your own.

“Your doctor can be a key resource as you’re trying to quit smoking. He or she can talk to you about medications to help you quit and put you in contact with local resources,” says The American Lung Association.

The ALA has all sorts of other resources to help you make sense of what to expect and how to be successful at quitting. Check out their I Want To Quit Smoking page for reasons, facts, frequently asked questions and support you can get from the ALA itself.

Smoking is the worst thing you can voluntarily do to your health. Make an appointment with your doctor and commit to making yourself healthier.

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More common foods to help your tummy

Image result for healthy foodsOne of the most effective ways to improve your digestion is through food. We all know that, but
it can be difficult to make those decisions when life is so busy. But there are so many common foods that you can easily incorporate into your diet that’ll help improve your digestion.

Bustle recently gave us another list less-obvious tummy helpers that you can add to your grocery list. We’ve got some suggestions on how to do just that.

Greek Yogurt

Yogurt can help with digestion, and Greek yogurt is an easy add to your normal menu. Stick to plain, since the flavored tends to have more sugar.

  • Add low-sugar granola or cereal with fresh fruit for breakfast.
  • Substitute Greek yogurt for sour cream at your next Mexican night. Stir in lemon juice, salt and fresh cilantro to kick up the flavor.
  • Mix in Dijon and yellow mustards and your favorite pepper, then spread it on a sandwich with turkey breast and avocado.

Onions and Garlic

These favorite flavor boosters are also great for your immune system and digestion. If you don’t like the raw flavor – it’s strong! – sauteing these bulbs makes them a sweet addition to just about anything.

  • Slow cook diced onions in a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Put these into meatballs, chili, or a cold bean salad.
  • Add garlic into the sauteed onions at the end until it just cooks through for extra flavor and nutrition.
  • Thinly slice red onions and toss with romaine lettuce, black beans, corn, and your favorite dressing.

Black Beans

These nutritious powerhouses are super versatile. (You can even make brownies out of them!) And they’re easy enough to add into a quick meal.

  • Mix a can of black beans with diced bell pepper, avocado, onion and fresh cilantro. Add a dash of salt, pepper, cumin and red pepper or hot sauce for an easy lunch.
  • Make a pot of no-chop chili (beef or turkey, seasonings and salsa – promise it’s easy), and add black beans at the end.
  • If you make eggs in the morning, add black beans and salsa for a southwestern kick.

Bananas

These ready-made snacks are perfect to add to your daily routine, and if you don’t have time to prepare them, bring them along for your mid-morning munchies.

  • Dice up some bananas to add to your oatmeal, and put a dollop of Greek yogurt on top for extra protein and digestive powers.
  • Make a fruit salad, even in the winter. Thaw your favorite frozen berries, add slices of banana, some cinnamon, nutmeg and fresh lemon juice.
  • Whip up two-ingredient banana pancakes and smear on some peanut or almond butter for a super-satisfying breakfast.

Want more? Check out the other surprisingly common foods that can help with your tummy.

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Colon cancer and exercise: The connection to longevity

Image result for older person exerciseEveryone knows that exercise is the one thing that we could all be getting more of. And even though it can be tough, especially in these cold winter months, now there’s even more of a reason to get moving.

A new study reveals that survivors of colon cancer have a better chance of survival if they engage in some exercise.

“Patients who engaged in at least five hours of non-vigorous physical activity a week had a 25% reduction in the hazard for survival,” says MedPage Today. “With four or more hours of weekly activity, the survival hazard improved by 20%.”

And it seems as though the length of exercise was more important than the vigor. Which is good news for folks who have a difficult time with cardio. Hitting five hours a week showed less progression of the disease and increased longevity.

An hour a day might seem a little steep if you’re just starting out. But you don’t have to jump right into the full schedule – you can work your way up. And, you can do 20-30 minutes at a time a couple times a day to help break it up.

Here are a few ideas to get going. Mix them up to keep things interesting.

  • Map out a walking trail around your office grounds or hallways, and take a break mid-morning and mid-afternoon to do a few laps.
  • If you have a dog, bundle up and get the both of you outside. Just make sure the sidewalks are clear.
  • Take the stairs whenever possible. If you work on a really high floor, get off the elevator three to four floors early and walk the rest of the way.
  • Set up one cleaning project a week, and set aside a half hour each night to work on it.
  • Try some simple yoga moves. Follow simple routines for beginners.
  • Find out what classes are offered at your local community center or school. Also look at your local gym or Y for an affordable weekly class.

While five hours is a great goal, if you know you won’t hit it, don’t set yourself up for failure. Aim to increase your activity level by one hour a week until you hit five.

And remember, “These findings suggest that it doesn’t take a lot of physical activity to improve outcomes,” says MedPage Today. “While exercise is by no means a substitute for chemotherapy, patients can experience a wide range of benefits from as little as 3o minutes of exercise a day.”

 

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The real struggles of three IBDers

On a normal day, car trouble or a busy grocery store are minor inconveniences. When you add Crohn’s or Colitis to your schedule, your normal day can turn into a bad dream in no time.

To raise awareness of this struggle and show how strong these survivors are, we wanted to share three encouraging stories as we look forward to the bright future of IBDers.

 

Amber Lopez Pelton, Crohn’s SurvivorImage may contain: 2 people, people sitting and indoor

I’m still wearing purple to raise awareness for IBD💜💜💜 I thought someone fixed the brake lights a while ago, but some nice man honked his horn& told me they were out still out. Being in a bad flare, I had an extra change of clothes& took the girls with me& changed& cleaned myself the best I could while I got the truck serviced. It was very embarrassing but The Automotive place treated us very well& gave us a good price& understood. They got to see a little bit of a taste of what us IBDrs go thru on a daily basis, behind closed doors. It can cause depression as well. It’s an autoimmune disease!! So please, take us seriously, many have passed from this& it can b hereditary.

Let’s fight for a cure everyone!! 

Oh& it can turn into Cancer without proper treatment. So let’s raise awareness& fight for a cure💜💜💜Stay strong my IBD Warriors!!

 

Nicole Lynn Cochran, Ostomy SporterImage may contain: 2 people, people smiling, text

I am 28 years old and have suffered from severe ulcerative colitis since I was 19. For years I hid my illness and was embarrassed to talk about the painful and debilitating symptoms associated with inflammatory bowel disease.

I had gone through over 30 medications including biologics, high dose steroids and even forms of chemotherapy with no relief. My colon was killing me. Three weeks ago I went under the knife to remove my diseased colon. I have two more surgeries to go to create my jpouch and to reverse my ileostomy.

I wear a bag and I am not embarrassed, and I have no reason to be.

This bag is giving me LIFE and I intend to take full advantage of that.

I have come a long way from the 19 year old girl that was afraid to talk about her illness. I have an ostomy and I am proud of it!

 

Image may contain: one or more people and plantAmber Schieber, Lifetime IBD Warrior

I’ve had Crohns Colitis and IBD since I’m 9 years old, I’m 20 now, my disease is so sever it has moved into my lungs and has caused respiratory diseases. ” Just breathe” is written in my parents handwriting, symbolic to, deep breath, everything is going to be okay, one step at a time.

Everything does get better, don’t give up, fight like a girl.

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Bon Appétit! Three holiday brunch ideas that are comforting and healthy

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Your holiday brunch can be tasty, simple and healthy while still being fun and festive.

Our favorite time of year for food continues as the year-end holidays roll in. Potatoes, gravy, sugar and sweets, it’s all so good yet all so bad all at the same time. There are so many options for comforting holiday sides and snacks that won’t upset your stomach but won’t leave you wanting more.

We found three of them for you to enjoy this holiday season.

Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower

If you’re one who doesn’t care much for cruciferous vegetables – kale, broccoli, cauliflower – this simple recipe might change your mind. When you roast cauliflower, it becomes sweet, meaty and wonderfully caramelized. Plus, you roast it with onions, fresh garlic and thyme, and finish the oven time with some salty, nutty Parmesan cheese. Perfect to pair with some egg sandwiches and fresh berries.

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan

Just toss everything together but the cheese, roast at 425 for about 35 minutes, mix in the cheese, and roast for another ten minutes.

If you don’t like cauliflower or have another veggie on hand, you can swap it out. Carrots, broccoli or potatoes would all work well, but you’ll have to adjust the cooking time based on the size you cut the veggies.

Sweet Potato and Broccoli Toasts

These bites are a little more work than the cauliflower, but the flavor is perfect for a holiday brunch on a cold winter morning. There are a lot of ingredients, but most of them are optional or swap-able. Use whatever fresh herbs you like or have in the fridge, and garnish with sunflower kernels, pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds. Serve with a mimosa and you’ve got yourself a party.

Sweet Potato Mash

  • 1 large sweet potato (about 12 oz.), peeled, cut into 1” pieces
  • 1 red Thai chile (optional), halved, some seeds removed
  • ½ cup fresh orange juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Broccoli

  • 1 large head broccoli, stem removed, cut into large florets
  • 8 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 slices ¾”-thick crusty bread
  • 2 tablespoons chopped raw pistachios
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint, divided
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)

Boil the sweet potatoes to create the mash, roast the broccoli in the meantime, then assemble your toasts and garnish as you like.

Herb-Infused Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce

Seafood can be intimidating, but these instructions make poaching shrimp pretty straightforward. You add herbs, onion and lemon to water, bring to a boil, then add the shrimp. Then cool the little guys in an ice bath and serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.

Ingredients

  • 1½ pound shell-on large shrimp
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • ½ bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • Cocktail sauce and lemon wedges

Short on time? Get de-veined, shell-off shrimp and you’ll cut your prep time in half.

Happy brunching!

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