March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and a good time to look into health screenings and lifestyle changes that may help your colon. Colon and rectal cancer are among the most treatable forms of cancer if caught early. There is a 90 percent success rate if treatment is begun while the cancer is in the beginning stages. Still, each year, many women die of this disease.
Getting screened is an important step toward avoiding this deadly disease. If you are age 50 or older, you should be tested. Your doctor can advise you as to which test he or she recommends, but it will probably be one of the following:
* A yearly fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
* Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
* Yearly FOBT or FIT plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
* Double-contrast barium enema every five years
* Colonoscopy every 10 years. A colonoscopy is a visual exam of the colon which is done under light sedation.
Right now, most doctors are recommending a colonoscopy at age 50, with a followup screening schedule based on the individual patient’s history. Testing may be recommended more frequently, or at an earlier age, if the patient has certain risk factors, such as:
* A personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
* A strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps (cancer or polyps in a first-degree family member younger than age 60, or in two first-degree relatives of any age–a first-degree family member is a parent, sibling or child).
Other ways you can encourage colon health are to be physically active, and eat a diet with a strong focus on vegetables, whole grain, fruits and other fiber. Drinking plenty of water is also beneficial.
For more information about colon health, consult your healthcare provider.
The Flu is Still Here
It is not too late to get your flu shot if you have not yet received one. The flu is typically still present until late March or early April.
Getting a flu shot not only protects you from this serious respiratory illness, it also helps protect you from spreading the disease to others. The Centers for Disease Control recommend that everyone over the age of six months get the flu shot. Those especially at risk for suffering severe complications from the flu are the elderly, those with asthma or other respiratory illnesses, those with compromised immune systems, and the very young.
Today, there is a flu vaccine that fits everyone. There are vaccines for those who are allergic to eggs (the flu vaccine is typically produced in an egg-based formula); there are vaccines for children, and there are nasal spray vaccines for those who are afraid of needles. Ask your doctor about which vaccine is best for you.
The Dangers of Marijuana During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
With the recent legalization of medical marijuana in a number of states, there has been the incorrect assumption that marijuana must be safe to smoke during pregnancy. However, this is not the case. Marijuana is still a drug, and a drug with known harmful side effects to developing babies.
Medical research has shown that the chemicals in marijuana influence brain maturation.
Babies born to women who used marijuana during their pregnancies respond differently to visual stimuli, tremble more, and have a high-pitched cry, which may indicate problems with neurological development. As marijuana-exposed children reach school age, they tend to have difficulty with problem-solving skills, memory and the ability to remain attentive.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, breast-feeding mothers should also be leery of using marijuana as research suggests that THC is secreted into breast milk in moderate amounts. These amounts could also be harmful to a baby’s developing brain.
While marijuana may have positive uses in aiding certain medical conditions, it is still a drug that can put your baby’s healthy development at risk.
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