How do you integrate vascular health and cancer prevention?

PAD_leg artery_by CDCBy Hui Xie-Zukauskas

For those who may be unaware of what cancer and heart disease share in common, today I wish to remind you of why I talk about cardiovascular diseases. When I started this website, with its focus on cancer prevention, I had a well thought-out approach to maximize your benefits for heart health as well. To put it simply, there are many practices that will help you “kill two birds with one stone”—both cancer and heart disease.

So today, let me elaborate on cardiovascular risk factors that a cancer-prevention lifestyle can help allay.

First, let me ask you, Do you know if you have peripheral vascular diseases (PVD) or not? About 20 million of people in the United States are suffering from PVD, yet they don’t even know it. What does that have to do with cancer prevention? Please read on.

What is PVD, and what is PAD?

Almost everyone knows about atherosclerosis. Well, PVD is one of the major clinical complications of atherosclerosis. It affects blood vessels outside of the heart and brain, e.g. those of your body’s extremities.

When PVD only develops in the arteries, it is usually called peripheral arterial disease (PAD), which results in reduced blood flow to the lower extremities. PAD is predominantly caused by the buildup of fatty plaque in small arteries, resulting in the narrowing of those arteries, blocking blood flow from the heart to the legs. Consequently, the hallmark of PAD is extreme pain or painful cramping in the legs.

However, many folks with PAD experience no symptoms. That is why it is important to raise public awareness.

PAD and aging

PAD is neither a men’s nor a women’s disease—it is more of an aging disease. According to the NIH and CDC, one in every 20 Americans over age 50 has PAD, and approximately 12-20% of people older than age 60 have it. By age 80, 20-25% of Americans have PAD.

What are the risk factors for PAD?

So far, we have covered two already:

  •      Atherosclerosis
  •      Aging

Other risk factors include:

  •     Smoking
  •     Diabetes
  •     High blood pressure
  •     High cholesterol or abnormal cholesterol – too much “bad” LDL cholesterol and too little “good” HDL cholesterol
  •     Being overweight or obese
  •     Family history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease (stroke, coronary artery disease, or PVD).
  •     Stress

What does learning about PAD have to do with cancer prevention?

The table below shows the risk factors that cancer and PAD have in common.

Risk Factors

Cancer

PAD

 Aging

 Tobacco use / Smoking

 Obesity

 Being physically inactive

 Inflammation

indirectly, because it’s linked to atherosclerosis

 Stress

 Diabetes

 Junk diet (high fats, high sugar, excessive salt)

may lead to other risk factors above

 Hormonal imbalance

Without distracting from today’s focus, I have addressed each of risk factors in previous CancerPreventionDaily Summer Health Education Series, and you can learn more by visiting CancerPreventionDaily.com

What’s the take-away message?

  1. PAD is under-diagnosed and lacking in public awareness, yet its incidence increases with age disturbingly.
  2. Make a cancer-prevention lifestyle your priority. Lifestyle modification is one of the keys to controlling and preventing PAD as well as cancer.
  3. Take action using the “Five Seconds Rule”—meaning that whether you consult with your physician or change one unhealthy lifestyle habit, take one small step at a time and do it now!

 

Image credit: CDC

Seven Signs You’ve Overlooked UV Radiation Damage

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Sunlight vs. UV hazardsSummer is such a great time in many ways, but today, I’m going to talk about a summer lifestyle subject that affects everybody. First, imagine this: from over-indulging in the sun, you can lose part of your ear or skin on your face, or even more serious, your life, due to skin cancer…. It’s very terrifying!

Did you know that the cause is ultraviolet (UV) radiation? The sun is a major source of UV rays. And common skin cancers usually appear on sun-exposed areas, such as the ears, nose, and eyelids.

Sun enthusiasts, lovers of the outdoors, and many of us love doing things outside or taking a sunny beach vacation – it’s a lifestyle we take for granted. Why was I emphasizing “everybody” earlier? Because we are exposed to the same sun, regardless of whether we’re young or old, men or women, right?

Certainly, nobody wants to endure “unnecessary UV radiation treatment” – by that, I mean the overexposure to UV radiation, whether it’s from the sun or from tanning beds, which can undoubtedly increase your risk of skin cancer. However, the question is: – are you aware of the consequences and signs of UV radiation damage? 

In a few words, UV radiation is a known carcinogen (i.e. a cancer-causing agent), and it causes skin cancer through direct damage to the DNA in skin cells. It can also do other harm to your body, including premature aging, immune suppression, and eye damage.

While you’re having fun, check out the following 7 signs that you might have overlooked UV radiation damage:

1.      Not practicing sun protection attentively

Particularly, you didn’t put on sunscreen when going outdoors. Furthermore, some experts recommend applying sunscreen all year around.

2.      Excessive or chronic exposure to the sun

I’m not suggesting that sun-bathing enthusiasts give up their pleasure. The point is that unreasonable sun exposure is costly health-wise; and has proven to be hazardous to your health and life-threatening.

3.      Too much tanning

Those indoor tanning beds actually expose you to higher amounts of UV radiation.

4.      Inadequate sunscreen use

Remember that all sunscreens are not created equally.

5.      No spot or mole check for some time

Be extra vigilant about any changes in spots or moles. Asking family members or a friend to help check or visiting a dermatologist can save your life, period.

6.      Lack of sun safety education

If your occupation is outdoors, but neither you nor your employer has taken sensible precautions on sun safety you should. Are your sunglasses UV absorbent? Have you had any education on sun damage?

7.      Being careless about the environment or ecosystem.

What does this have to do with UV radiation or skin cancer? Well, a lot. Pollution and ozone layer depletion decrease our atmosphere’s natural protection, which, in turn, all increase our exposure to harmful UV radiation.

Are there any of signs you missed? Now it’s the time to look into your sun protection measures!

 

Image credits: by www.bccdc.ca and CPD

Old Men’s and Young Men’s Cancer – How to Protect Yourself?

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Men-s Cancer in Puzzle_CPDMen may experience something wrong or annoying physically but hate to bring it up in conversation. This is understandable, but could potentially be gravely risky in regard to cancer. Stick with me for a few seconds, and I’ll explain why, along with a list of lifestyle-modifying and life-saving strategies to protect you from cancers that strike old men and young men.

First, let me briefly outline the difference between “young men’s cancer” and “old men’s cancer.”

 

Testicular cancer

Prostate cancer

Age 15 – 35 50+
Location Outside body, inside the scrotum Inside body, under the bladder
Risk factors Race/ethnicity, HIV infection, uncorrected or undescended testicles, injury to scrotum, family history Family history, genetics, race/ethnicity, hormones, smoking, obesity, inflammation, occupation
Signs or Symptoms
  • A lump in either testicle
  • An enlarged testicle or swollen scrotum
  • Discomfort or heaviness in the scrotum
  • Pain in the abdomen, groin area, or lower back
No sign at early stage

  • Change in urinating frequency, urgency, or flow; blood in the urine
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Pain in the hips or lower back
Prognosis Malignant, rare, but can be cured if detected early Common, can very often be treated successfully

So, how can men be vigilant about their cancer risks? If you are a man, here are 20 things you can do:

  1. Get screened for prostate cancer. Men over 50 should consult their doctors for screening, especially those having a family history of the disease. The screenings may include a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA).
  2. Detect testicular cancer. Perform testicle self-examination monthly and have a doctor examine annually. See instructions for testicular self-examination at http://www.webmd.boots.com/men/guide/tescticular-self-examination
  3. Take a blood test for HIV antibodies. Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) causes AIDS, and HIV-infected individuals can remain symptomless for years. If you think you may have been exposed to HIV, consult your physician. The good news is, new drugs are available to treat HIV infection effectively.
  4. Move your body. Physical activity is a key to preventing prostate cancer. Some research evidence indicates that men who are more physically active have a lower risk of getting prostate cancer. Do whatever works for you—whether that’s exercising regularly or getting physically active in various ways throughout the day. And keep it fun by alternating your routine, workout format, or partners.  More activity is more protective.
  5. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight and obesity are among modifiable risk factors for cancer. Obesity is strongly linked to diabetes; one in three Americans has diabetes and these folks often don’t even know they have it. Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a wide spectrum of health problems from heart disease and stroke to kidney, eye, and nerve damage.
  6. Have RED in your diet. Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that reduces the risk of prostate cancer. Especially, cooked and processed tomatoes contain high levels of lycopene.
  7. Eat more GREEN. Broccoli is high in cancer-fighting agents (i.e., sulforaphane and isothiocyanates). Regularly eating broccoli may lower your risk of prostate cancer. Other greens such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, and mustard greens are vegetables rich in indoles, sulfoxide, and 5-methyl-methionine, all of which have potent anticancer effects.
  8. Consume more fish. Omega-3, found in certain fish including salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, and trout, can help reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer.
  9. Consider biological selenium (not synthetic or supplement). Selenium, a naturally occurring chemical, may help you fight prostate cancer, though the evidence is non-conclusive. However, you’ll never go wrong with plant-based foods (vegetables, grains, etc.), fish, nuts, wheat germ, and Brewer’s yeast, which all contain selenium.
  10. Reduce meat consumption. Red meats and processed meats have been linked to a greater risk of several types of cancer, including prostate cancer.
  11. Avoid deep-fried foods. High-heat cooking (e.g., deep-frying or grilling) generates potential carcinogens. In particular, it produces heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in animal meats, and so does overcooking meat. One study revealed that frequent consumption (once a week or more) of certain fried foods including French fries, fried chicken, fried fish, and doughnuts was associated with an increased risk for prostate cancer.
  12. Be wary about supplements. There is no clear evidence that any vitamin or herb supplements prevent testicular or prostate cancer. Plus what’s in a supplement is not all regulated.
  13. Drink more water or tea. Water helps get rid of toxins, bacteria and waste in the body. Green and black tea contain potent antioxidants and anticancer agents such as polyphenols.
  14. Drink coffee daily. Coffee provides a beneficial effect for fight cancer, according to Harvard researchers. They found that men who drank six or more cups of regular or decaf coffee were 59% less likely to develop advance prostate cancer than those who eschewed the brew.
  15. Listen to your body. If you experience pain in your groin area or lower back, a change in urination (frequency, urgency, or pressure), or difficulty urinating, or if you see blood in your urine or semen, talk to your doctor. Never ignore those warning signs.
  16. Quit smoking. Smoking is one of the primary risk factors for lung cancer, and is attributed to several other cancers including prostate cancer.
  17. Keep your cell phones away from your pants if possible. Cell phones emit radio frequency radiation, and radiation is a carcinogen.
  18. Enjoy fun for life. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t need to come with boredom. You can exercise, have sex, and watch TV too as long as it’s not too much. Also, instead of chips and popcorn with your TV watching, eat a big plate of fresh veggies and fruits.
  19. Prevent inflammation and viral or bacterial infections. Inflammation has been linked to many human cancers.
  20. Treat an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). There are effective drugs available, so consult a doctor.

Finally, ladies, let’s encourage the men in our lives to take actions for a healthy lifestyle and cancer protection.

 

Image credit: by Ambrozjo and CancerPreventionDaily.com/

Cancer Cannot Take All Away

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Ron_HigginbothamThis past weekend we gathered together to celebrate Dr. Ronald Eugene Higginbotham’s life after he passed away due to bladder cancer. A cancer diagnose is devastating and the battle to fight cancer, unthinkable. Cancer affects all of us at many levels or in many ways. Reflecting the perspectives on what cancer can and cannot do may ease our pain a little.

When cancer took a loved one’s life, many times it can make us feel like an everlastingly loss. This memorial service provided a vital reminder of Ron’s life and the person we know – a loving husband, father and grandfather, a kind gentleman, an accomplished scientist and engineer, a dedicated church elder, a wise mentor, and a caring friend….

My heart was heavy as I thought of Ron and the blessings he brought to those around him. Yes, cancer damaged Ron’s body and took his life. However, what cancer didn’t and cannot take away from him may be included in, but not limited to, the following list:

  • His deep love to his wife and family
  • His genuine smile and the spirit of peace
  • His unwavering faith and devotion to the Lord
  • His kind acts that helped those people in need
  • The way he made everyone feel welcomed and special
  • The way he paused and greeted people silently before addressing the church attendants
  • The fun time he spent with his children, grandchildren and friends
  • The positive life he had lived

Importantly, all happy and precious memories that he left and we shared will be long-lasting.

Therefore, folks, whether you’re fighting cancer right now or you’ve survived cancer – also loved ones, families and friends, let us comfort each other with this great reminder: Cancer cannot take all away from us – including love, peace, spirit, faith, courage, values, characters, memories, and so much more. After all, our hope and effort to cure cancer cannot be taken away!

 

Image credit: http://manassaschurch.org/index.php

Most Common Diseases of Which Many Men Are Often Unaware

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

food-healthy-man-w-blueberries_PexelsMen, in general, are “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kind of guys, and they believe that they can fix anything by themselves. This is true many times in life. But when it comes to medical or health conditions, this could be a common yet dangerous misconception.

Sometimes, those “annoying” symptoms (e.g. snoring, bad breath, enlarged prostate, and unexplained weight gain or loss) show up and even persist, but a lot of guys would rather tough it out or put off a visit to the doctor with various excuses. I get that.

To help you strengthen your health and live a vibrant life, I’m calling attention to the most common diseases that affect men and necessary actions you can take to prevent potentially grave consequences.

Do you know top 10 diseases that kill men? Here they are:

  1. Heart disease
  2. Cancer: cancers of lung, prostate and colon. Testicle cancer is commonly seen in younger men.
  3. Accidents and injuries
  4. Stroke
  5. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  6. Diabetes
  7. Influenza and pneumonia
  8. Kidney disease
  9. Alzheimer’s disease
  10. Suicide

The good news is – Most of the killer diseases that affect men are potentially preventable by living a healthy lifestyle. So, stop smoking, maintain a healthy weight, keep physically active, and eat a healthy, nutritious diet.

Furthermore, here are a list of things you or loved ones can do for men’s health:

  • Check out critical numbers such as blood pressure, blood cholesterol and blood sugar, keep them in normal range.
  • Schedule a routine medical care or physical examination.
  • Schedule recommended screenings for prostate and colon cancer.
  • Acquire a routine testicle exam.
  • Keep mentally active, e.g. taking new classes or playing brain games.
  • Continue forging a close relationship with a circle of friends.
  • Never ignore some seemingly common symptoms such as snoring, bad breath, and enlarged prostate. If the problem persists, consult your physician to rule out any medical conditions.
  • Seek professional help if you have symptoms of depression.

Father’s Day is around the corner. Saving His life can be the best and priceless gift for Dad.

 

Image credit: Pexels

Cutting Sugar for Cancer Prevention

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Sugar in a teaspoon_DreamstimeIt’s easy to say “Sugar is bad for you,” but just how bad is it?

In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) is reducing its sugar intake recommendations from 10 percent of your daily calorie intake to 5 percent. To put this in a more measurable way, consuming 5% daily would be about 25 grams of sugar intake. This recommendation refers to all sugar – manually added and naturally occurring.

So, what does this translate for you? Adults with a healthy weight (a normal body mass index or BMI) are recommended to have less than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day from added or natural sources, given that 1 teaspoon = 4 grams.

The WHO warned the public that much of the sugar consumed today is “hidden” in processed foods that are not usually seen as sweets. This is alarming. Sure, you probably know a can of regular soda contains 40 grams of sugar, equivalent to 10 teaspoons. However, do you realize that a tablespoon of ketchup contains 1 teaspoon of sugar (4 grams)?

How about your frozen pizza? Or cereal, bread, soup, yogurt, and even mayonnaise? They all contain sugar. So it’s not just soft drinks, juice drinks, desserts, and other foods we think of as “sweet,” but many other common food items, especially processed ones.

Why is cutting sugar crucial to fighting cancer?

Candies in stop-sign -1025007-mEvery cell in our bodies needs sugar to promote a positive energy balance. Cancer cells are no exception, and they love sugar because it feeds them. Growing research evidence has shown how, though complicated mechanisms, increased blood sugar plays a significant role in cancer development.

Cancer hallmarks include accumulated mutations of DNA, increased proliferation, and the invasion and migration of cancerous cells. Higher blood sugar has both direct effects on cancer’s cellular events and indirect effects on rewiring cancer-related signaling pathways through other factors. This may also provide insight into the extensive findings that the diabetic population is at higher risk of site-specific cancers (e.g., breast, colorectal, pancreatic, and stomach cancer).

One of several modifiable risk factors for cancer is poor diet, which is also a risk factor for obesity. What’s more, obesity is an independent risk factor for cancer and for many other common chronic diseases. There is a variety of ways to lower your sugar intake, including:

  •     Keep a healthy, nutritious diet.
  •     Eat a plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits.
  •     Avoid processed foods.
  •     Avoid artificial sweeteners.
  •     Drink water instead of sugar-loaded soft drinks.
  •     Read food labels attentively.

For more strategies and tips, see our cancer prevention blog.

The bottom line:

Cutting back sugar will help you maintain a healthy weight and lower your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity-related health problems, and cancer.

 

Image credits: By www.dreamstime.com and nazreth

“SHADE” — 5 Essential Ways to Prevent Skin Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Girl Pointing At Sky In Summer_StokpicSkin cancer remains one of most common cancers in the United States. Fortunately, it is one of the most preventable types of cancer. Do you know that more than 90% of skin cancer is caused by excessive or unnecessary exposure to the sun?

Everybody loves the sun! However, you can suffer serious consequence from over-exposure. Just like anything else, moderation is key. Here I am going to guide you on how you can protect yourself from sun damage and skin cancer. The acronym “SHADE” is a handy way to remember the keys to your skin health.

1.     S stands for “Sunscreen application”.

This is an important sun safe practice. A wide variety of sunscreen are available on the market but not all products are created equal. Make sure to use sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB. Apply them generously to the parts of skin that will be exposed to the sun. In addition, use a moisturizer with SPF 15 or higher on a daily basis. Sun Protection Factor 15 provides protection 15 times longer before sunburn. Accordingly, SPF 30 provides protection 30 times longer.

2.     H stands for “Hide from the sun”.

Skin is the largest organ in the body; it’s necessary to preserve its function. Whether you stroll under the sun or enjoy outdoors adventures, wear sunglasses, a hat, and cover up with loose clothing. Also, make sure your sunglasses have both UVA and UVB blocking properties.

3.     A stands for “Avoid the sun during its most intensive time”

Staying away from the sun is especially paramount between the hours of 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., because during this window of time, the sun is at its strongest, thereby making this time the riskiest for sun damage.

4.     D stands for “Detect early and Defense daily”.

Schedule an annual skin cancer screening if you are among those “high risk” individuals. Also, identify early signs of skin cancer through self-awareness or attentiveness from family members and friends. Look out for any moles, bumps or spots on your skin, notice any changes in size, color, height, asymmetry, texture and border, as well as any fluid or pain. In other words, know your ABCDEs as WebMD advised.

Sun damage is characterized by generating free radicals. Antioxidants are powerful weapons that fight or “catch” free radicals. So, build up your antioxidant defense by eating fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables, which are rich in antioxidants and micronutrients such as carotenoids, lycopene, resveratrol and flavonoids. Eat more salmon, because higher Omega-3 essential fatty acids may protect skin damage and premature aging from UV radiation.

5.     E stands for “Educate everyone”.

Remember, E is for education, not entertainment under the sun! Start with children and young adults. Instruct skin care equally to women and men. Regardless of gender and age, we are all exposed to the same sun. These days, the sun is getting less merciful compared to two or three decades ago due to changes in ozone protection. Thinning ozone layers in the atmosphere cannot filter out UVA radiation and UVB radiation as well as they could previously. Therefore, skin damage happens earlier and at a deeper level.

Let’s recap the 5 essential ways for your sun protection and skin cancer prevention:

Sunscreen should be applied daily.

Hide behind the sun.

Avoid the sun during its most intensive hours.

Detect early and defense daily.

Educate everyone—young and old, men and women.

Take home message:

The acronym SHADE stands for a set of effective weapons against sun damage and skin cancer. To enjoy the great outdoors on a nice, sunny day, safe-guard yourself and your family with SHADE!

If you like the post, please share with others. Thanks for your help with cancer prevention!

 

Image credits: by Stokpic

Seven Novel Strategies for Spring or Anytime Cleaning to Prevent Cancer

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Spring flowers-fly-garden_PexelsFlowers are blooming and birds are singing as spring arrives after a long winter. Spring cleaning is a buzzword now. Some people are excited about cleaning for fresh and renewed homes; in contrast, others see spring cleaning as a daunting task and feel overwhelmed even just running down a long checklist. Either way is understandable.

Here is the point: spring cleaning doesn’t have to be one-size-fits-all, and you can gain cancer prevention benefits out of different kinds of spring cleaning. You will know why after reading the novel yet actionable ideas and strategies I outline here.

1.     Manage spring cleaning with a workable goal.

It’s desirable all rooms and corners of your house spotless, but it’s not a must. So, setting a priority (e.g., the kitchen or bedroom) can be very workable, especially when time is not on your side. Furthermore, your goal is more achievable when you make spring cleaning a family function. A bonus is that working together as a family helps foster responsibility for kids. It’s of course important to do chemical-free cleaning (e.g., e-cloths, baking soda, and vinegar) if you can.

2.     Clean out junk foods to optimize your heart health and for cancer prevention.

Go to your refrigerator and your pantry and you will likely find foods or drinks containing some cancer-causing ingredients such as:

  • Trans fat: it increases your bad cholesterol (LDL) and at the same time lowers your good cholesterol (HDL). Therefore, it is not only a double whammy on your heart, but also a fireball for inflammatory diseases such as cancer.
  • Sweeteners: commonly used aspartame causes various illnesses from birth defects to cancer.
  • High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or refined sugar: cancer cells have sweet teeth!
  • Genetically-modified organisms (GMOs): both GMOs and the chemicals used to grow them have been shown to promote tumor growth.
  • Processed meats: they contain cancer-promoting agents like sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate.
  • Canned food containing BPA.

3.     Clean mental clutter to lower stress and enhance immunity.

  • Get rid of stress.
  • Get rid of negative thoughts, worries, and self-doubts.
  • Take a yoga class, a bath, or a walk; treat yourself to a massage or go out for lunch or dinner with a friend; whatever works best as a stress reliever for you, just do it.

4.     Clean your mouth to reduce oral cancer risk.

  •  Quit smoking.
  •  Avoid alcohol.
  •  Make a daily habit of brushing and flossing your teeth.
  •  Schedule a dental cleaning and oral cancer screening.

5.     Clean the fat in your body to gain long-term health.

Obesity is a risk factor for certain cancers, in addition to increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. So, by promoting fat breakdown, you may compensate certain aspects of obesity that cause diabetes. Certainly, you cannot gain a healthy weight overnight, but you do have options to modify your diet and lifestyle starting with cleaning out junk foods and taking actions such as:

  • Stay away from high-fat and high-sugar foods.
  • Start or continue a balanced diet rich in fresh veggies, fruits, proteins, and fiber.
  • Burn some fat by exercising and being more physically active.
  • Drink more water or tea instead of sugar- or sweetener-rich drinks.

6.     Clean the air to remove pollutants that cause cancer and allergies.

  • Check for and remove asbestos, a lung cancer-causing agent.
  • Test for radon level while increasing ventilation in your house. Radon is a radioactive but colorless, odorless gas.
  • Install an air freshener, which is a great aid to cleaning indoor pollutants.

7.     How about “digital cleaning”?

In this digital age, our lives are influenced by digital devices in many ways. “Digital hazards” can affect your health more than you may realize. You can help detox yourself from them simply by doing the following:

  • Clean your inbox. This can be a jump start of a “digital detox.” Eliminate all junk mail, and if possible stop those pesky unwanted emails from arriving in the first place. Delete old and useless email, and organize your inbox in more efficient ways.
  • Clean out all electronic wastes, such as old cell phones or other electronic devices, and take them to a safe disposal location designated by your local government. Donate your old computer to a cause if it’s still functional.
  • Clean viruses, spyware, and malware that may be in your computer. Backup your files and organize your passwords – whatever you do to make your computer run faster and less vulnerable to cyber threats, it will make your stress level lower and your life easier.
  • Keep your bedroom free of iPads, iPhones, and other digital devices as much as you can, because they are hazards to your snoozing, and consequently your health.

Of course, you can do more beyond these lists, but you get the idea.

I hope these strategies provide valuable insight into some small, easy, and quick steps you can take towards lowering your cancer risk. Spring or anytime cleaning of the areas outlined here can be a great strategy for cancer prevention and other health benefits.

 

Image credit: by Pexels

Make the Most of Your Sleep: For All Your Health, Including Cancer Prevention

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

alarm-bell-clock-338-524x350Here’s a troubling statistic: An estimated 60 million US adults have sleep disorder, making insufficient sleep an increasing public health issue.

How about you? Do you sleep too little or too much? Do you toss and turn at night?

Even if your answer to one of these questions is Yes, you may, like many people, consider trouble sleeping at night to be No Big Deal.

But that’s far from true. And that’s why today, we focus on how sleep can have a significant impact on keeping cancer at bay.

Let’s look at some facts:

  1. Both too little sleep and too much sleep are associated with higher mortality from all-cause illnesses.
  2. Working night shifts with long exposure to light at night disrupts circadian rhythms and has been found to contribute to an increased breast cancer risk.
  3. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA, often indicated by heavy snoring) is a condition in which the human body is temporarily deprived of an adequate oxygen supply to the blood.  Recent studies show that patients with OSA have a higher prevalence of cancer and cancer-related death than those without OSA, suggesting that OSA promotes cancer development and progression.
  4. One publication (by Matthews’ group, 2014) reported that people living a sedentary lifestyle (sleeping less than 7 hours/day, with moderate-to-vigorous physical activity less than 1 hour/week, viewing television more than 3 hours/day, and with a BMI greater than 25) had significantly higher all-cause cardiovascular disease and cancer mortality.
  5. Individuals with a sleeping disorder are more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as depression, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.
  6. Sleep disturbance is among the top 10 key health issues in menopausal women.
  7. Sleep disturbance and/or sleep deprivation can critically harm your health based on a reciprocal link between sleep and inflammatory biology. Sleep disorders can negatively affect your immune functioning, including antiviral responses and proinflammatory responses.

In sum, accumulating evidence has demonstrated that getting adequate sleep has a significant positive influence on your health, including preventing development of certain cancers.

If you have trouble sleeping, it’s best to seek professional advice to help determine whether it is due to a psychological or a pathophysiological issue. Adequate duration and good quality of sleep absolutely go a long way toward securing your optimal health, a lowered cancer risk, and an increase in your quality of life and productivity.

In brief, sleep is very important and valuable for your health; so, make the most of it!

Image credit: by Pexels

The Best Way to Prevent Colon Cancer: Know Your Risk First

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Colon cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Fortunately, it cancer is preventable especially by living a healthy lifestyle.

What can you do to prevent colon cancer?

There could be overwhelmed information and many things you can do for colon cancer prevention. However, one sure-fire step is to know risk factors of colon cancer. For those who are unaware of what risks are, let’s go through it.

1.     Age

Colorectal cancer risk increases after age 50. As you get older, your risk of colorectal cancer gets higher. More than 90% of this disease are diagnosed after age 50.

Colon cancer n polyp_MedincineNet2.     Colon polyps

Polyps are small growth in the colon or rectum. Most of them are not cancerous, but some can become cancer and they are commonly seen in people over age 50.The risk of colorectal cancer increases with the presence of polyps. Some polyps are inherited such as seen in familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), which can measurably increase colorectal cancer risk.

That is why early detection by colon cancer screening is vitally important. A colonoscopy remains the gold standard for screening, because it provides the best view of your entire colon and cancerous polyp(s) can be removed during the procedure.

3.     Family or personal history of cancer

Having biologically close relatives (parents, brothers, sisters, or children) with colon cancer doubles your risk of colon cancer. Previous personal history of cancer or any inflammatory bowel disease increases your risk of colorectal cancer too.

 4.     Obesity

Obesity has been linked to a higher risk of certain cancers including colorectal cancer.

5.     Physical inactivity

Sedentary behavior or lifestyle has been linked to diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. It can also increase the risk of several cancers including colorectal cancer. So, you may want to examine your TV viewing time, internet surfing time, recreational and/or occupational sitting time, and might be surprised by your total sitting time!

6.     Imbalanced gut bacteria

Growing evidence has pointed to how bacteria may influence the risk for cancer. Millions of microbes in your gut interact with your immune system, some are beneficial, but some are harmful. Experts believe that when bad bacteria overruns your digestive system, you might suffer from inflammatory bowel diseases, and may also be at a higher risk for colorectal cancer, because bad bacteria generate waste products that harm colon tissues and make them more vulnerable to malignancies.

 7.     Tobacco smoking

Cigarette smoking has been linked to a higher risk for several types of cancer; colon cancer is among them.

8.     Heavy alcohol consumption

Colorectal cancer has been linked to heavy intake of alcohol. The fact is that heavy alcohol users tend to have low levels of folic acid in their bodies. Most studies in humans indicate a clear link between colorectal cancer development and inadequate folate consumption. Furthermore, research has shown that folate deficiency increases DNA damage by decreasing the expression of two genes involved in DNA repair.

9.     Diet low in fiber but high in red meats

Surely, it is not clear how much diet might contribute to an increased risk of colon cancer. However, a diet that is high in red meats (e.g. beef, pork, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (such as hot dogs) can increase colorectal cancer risk. Again, a balanced, fiber-rich diet with a lot of vegetables can protect your colon from cancer.

Furthermore, if you are at age of 50+, you can assess your colorectal cancer risk using this interactive tool provided by NCI.

One more point, please be aware that some of these risks are potentially enhanced in modern society. For examples, TV watching is often associated with drinking sweetened beverages and eating junk foods. Sitting in your car during the long commute frequently comes with stress. Overall, these risk factors have a detrimental impact on colon cancer development.

So, what is the next? Take action, be proactive to optimize your colon health, and stop colon cancer NOW!

Image credits: By http://www.medicinenet.com