Health Care and Colorectal Cancer

A story in says that although significant progress has been made in treating cancer, more than 1.6 million Americans are projected to receive a cancer diagnosis in 2013, according to the third American Association for Cancer Research's Cancer Progress Report 2013. The number of cancer survivors increased from three million in 1971 (one in 69) to 13.7 million in 2012 (one in 23). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved 11 new drugs, three new uses for previously approved drugs, and three new imaging technologies, from Sept. 1, 2012, to July 31, 2013.

Despite this progress, in 2013, more than 1.6 million Americans are projected to receive a cancer diagnosis, and more than 580,350 are predicted to die of the disease. Cancer will account for nearly one in four deaths. More than half of cancers are related to preventable causes, including tobacco use, obesity and overweight, lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition. Cancer is the most costly disease to the United States, according to

One of the most severe forms of cancer forms in the colon, often appearing there with no advance signs for months or years until the disease is discovered by medical tests. Getting a colonoscopy is not something most people look forward to, according to the Los Angeles Times -- but a new analysis suggests that it's worth it to follow screening recommendations and have the test done every 10 years (or every five for those at high risk.)

According to the Colon Cancer Alliance, no one knows the exact causes of colon cancer. Doctors often cannot explain why one person develops this disease and another does not. However, it is clear that colon cancer is not contagious. No one can catch this disease from another person. Research has shown that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop colon cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease. Studies have found the following risk factors for colon cancer:

--Age over 50: Colon cancer is more likely to occur as people get older. More than 90 percent of people with this disease are diagnosed after age 50. The average age at diagnosis is 72.

--Colon polyps: Polyps are growths on the inner wall of the colon or rectum. They are common in people over age 50. Most polyps are benign (not cancer), but some polyps (adenomas) can become cancer. Finding and removing polyps may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

--Family history of colon cancer: Close relatives (parents, brothers, sisters, or children) of a person with a history of colon cancer are somewhat more likely to develop this disease themselves, especially if the relative had the cancer at a young age. If many close relatives have a history of colon cancer, the risk is even greater.

--Genetic alterations: Changes in certain genes increase the risk of colon cancer.

--Personal history of cancer: A person who has already had colon cancer may develop colon cancer a second time. Also, women with a history of cancer of the ovary, uterus (endometrium), or breast are at a somewhat higher risk of developing colon cancer.

--Ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease: A person who has had a condition that causes inflammation of the colon (such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease) for many years is at increased risk of developing colon cancer.

--Diet and Lifestyle: Studies suggest that diets high in red meat and fat (especially animal fat) and low in calcium, folate, and fiber may increase the risk of colon cancer. Also, some studies suggest that people who eat a diet very low in fruits and vegetables may have a higher risk of colon cancer. However, results from diet studies do not always agree, and more research is needed to better understand how diet affects the risk of colon cancer.

--Inactivity and obesity have also been linked to higher risk of colon cancer. Studies have shown that daily physical activity can decrease colon cancer risk by as much as 50 percent.

--Cigarette smoking: A person who smokes cigarettes may be at increased risk of developing polyps and colon cancer.

Because people who have colon cancer may develop colon cancer a second time, it is important to have checkups. If you have colon cancer, you also may be concerned that your family members may develop the disease. People who think they may be at risk should talk to their doctor. Much more material on this subject can be found at this website: .

In order to understand colorectal cancer, it helps to know something about the structure of the digestive system and how it works. After food is chewed and swallowed, it travels to the stomach. There it is partly broken down and sent to the small intestine. The small intestine is only called small because it isn�t very wide compared to the colon. In fact, the small intestine is the longest part of the digestive system -- about 20 feet. The small intestine also breaks down the food and absorbs most of the nutrients.

What remains goes into the colon (large intestine), a muscular tube about 5 feet long. The colon absorbs water and nutrients from the food and also serves as a storage place for waste matter (stool). Stool moves from the colon into the rectum, which is the last 6 inches of the digestive system. From there, stool passes out of the body through the opening called the anus.

The colon begins at the end of the small intestine � on the right side of the body at a place called the cecum. It goes up and bends to go across the top of the belly and turns down again on the left side. The rectum is in the lower part of the pelvis. More details can be found at this site: .

According to the National Cancer Institute, the estimated new cases and deaths from colon and rectal cancer in the United States in 2013 are as follows:

� New cases: 102,480 (colon); 40,340 (rectal)
� Deaths: 50,830 (colon and rectal combined)

To learn more about colon and rectal cancer symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and questions to ask, see your doctor. A significant amount of info on colorectal cancer can also be found at this site: . You�ll especially want to ask your physician about the following topics and focus discussion about details if you are diagnosed or have the potential to develop colorectal cancer:

--Prevention, Genetics, Causes: Information related to prevention, genetics, and risk factors.

--Screening and Testing: Information about methods of cancer detection including new imaging technologies, tumor markers, and biopsy procedures.

--Treatment: Information about treatment, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and vaccine therapy.

Cancer is deadly, and not seeking regular checkups from your doctor can be fatal if you are diagnosed too late with the disease. Always use preventive care with your health care provider to keep your medical history up to date. Schedule a colonoscopy if you meet the typical criteria, and get regular blood tests as part of your annual medical screenings. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are serious, and getting regular checkups and exams help determine an early diagnosis for treatment. In cases like this, no news is not necessarily good news.

Until next time.

Health Care and Baby Formula

Infants require regular feeding, and common knowledge in pediatric medicine confirms the importance of breast feeding newborns and babies until they are weaned from their mother�s milk. However, in some cases, babies are unable to be nursed. In those situations, baby formula is a good substitute to help with growth, nutrition, and oral stimulation.

Baby formula has been around as a substitute food for infants for decades. Since the development of the first commercial infant formula more than 135 years ago, each decade has brought new advancements and the constant refinement of infant formula products� nutrient composition to ensure that non-breastfed infants receive the essential nutrients needed to thrive.

Today�s baby formulas contain energy-providing nutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat as well as water), which provide the calories necessary to maintain bodily functions, support activity, and promote growth, according to this website: .

They also promote desirable immune functions as an outcome of overall nutrition. Protein provides the building blocks necessary to form and repair tissue. Additionally, baby formulas contain appropriate vitamins and minerals, which are essential in the metabolism of the energy nutrients. Minerals play an important part in bone structure, regulate certain body functions and, together with water, help maintain the body�s water balance.

The baby formula industry, through ongoing research and innovation, has continually developed new products that can help infants thrive. These formulas are helping to improve the survival rates and long-term health outcomes of many infants, including helping to significantly reduce the rate of iron-deficiency anemia in specific populations, according to .

According to the Mayo Clinic, your baby needs iron to grow and develop, especially during infancy. If you're not breast-feeding, using iron-fortified formula is the easiest way to provide this essential nutrient. Some infant formulas are enhanced with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). These are omega-3 fatty acids found in breast milk and certain foods, such as fish and eggs. Some studies suggest that including DHA and ARA in infant formula can help infant eyesight and brain development, but other research has shown no benefit.

Additionally, many infant formulas include pre- and probiotics � substances that promote the presence of healthy bacteria in the intestines � in an effort to mimic the immune benefits of breast milk. Early studies are encouraging, but long-term benefits of these substances are unknown. If you're unsure about enhanced infant formula, ask your child's doctor for guidance.

Don't buy or use outdated infant formula. If the expiration date has passed, you can't be sure of the formula's quality. While checking the expiration date, also inspect the condition of the formula container. Don't buy or use formula from containers with bulges, dents, leaks or rust spots. Formula in a damaged container may be unsafe. Infant formula is generally recommended until age 1, followed by whole milk until age 2 � but talk to your child's doctor for specific guidance. Reduced-fat or skim milk generally isn't appropriate before age 2 because it doesn't have enough calories or fat to promote early development. Much more detail about this subject is available at this website: .

Preparing baby formula isn't hard, but it's important to mix it in the proper ratio of formula to water to make sure that your baby is getting just the right amount of nutrients. Also, because your baby doesn't have much immunity to germs just yet, especially as a newborn, it's important to take precautions to protect him from foodborne illnesses, according to Quite a bit if detailed information about preparing formula can be found at this particular site: .

There are several types of formula available but the two that are most used are milk formula and soy formula. Both of these are as nutritious and usually both are fortified with the same amount of nutrients. However, the soy based formula is important for those babies who have a problem digesting cow�s milk. It is not advisable to use soy formulas unless the doctor specifically recommends it. This is because soy formulas have very high estrogen levels and has been linked to several thyroid autoimmune conditions. Another important thing to consider while feeding your baby is that the formula should be hypoallergenic, according to .

If a mother didn�t receive the right nutrition when pregnant, the baby may be underweight and susceptible to various disorders. In such a case, the infant may need a protein based high calorie nutrition formula. A special 24 calorie infant formula is available which can give your child 24 calories per ounce of the formula. Such a diet is recommended for babies who are underweight at birth or those who are prematurely born.

According to, choosing a formula for your baby can be a bit overwhelming. There are three types of formula: powders, which are mixed with water; concentrates, which are liquids that must be diluted with water; and ready-to-use liquids that can be poured directly into bottles. The formula type you choose depends on your budget (powder is the least expensive; ready-to-use is the most costly) and your baby's preference. To help you decide which formula to choose, ask your pediatrician which brand he/she recommends. Some parents find they need to try a few different kinds before finding the right match. Most pediatricians recommend staying with a formula for at least one week to see how a baby reacts to it.

Between birth and 6 months of age, your little one will need an average of 2-2.5 ounces of formula per pound per day. So if your baby weighs 10 pounds, she will need 20-25 ounces per day. Keep in mind that no baby -- regardless of age -- should have more than 32 ounces of formula each day. Here is an easy guide:

� Newborns may take only an ounce or two at each feeding
� 1-2 months: 3-4 ounces per feeding
� 2-6 months: 4-6 ounces per feeding
� 6 months to a year: as much as 8 ounces at a feeding

More info can be found at this site: .

Pediatricians can help guide new mothers through the feeding and care of newborns and infants. When you find the use of baby formula can be confusing at times, take time to talk with your family doctor, your pediatrician, or certified medical professionals to help guide you through the maze of choices available in the marketplace. There are valuable tools online and at your local health care offices to help you figure out what is best for your baby and you.

Until next time.

Health Care and 9/11--the Second Decade

We shall never forget! That has been the motto for twelve years as America remembers the tragic events that unfolded on a bright fall morning on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. Almost every adult that was awake that day saw the tragedy of lives lost in New York, Washington DC, and Pennsylvania as four planes loaded with unsuspecting crews and passengers became missiles in the hands of terrorists bent on destruction and death. Anyone who was alive then and recognized the terror of the day knows that the ones who gave up their lives either on a willing or unwilling basis is owed the deepest respect and honor.

Likely, this date will never be forgotten, much like the generation that experienced the �Day of Infamy� that took place December 7, 1941. Although those who were there, and those who were alive that day, are disappearing of old age and illness at a rate of thousands per day, America still remembers and pays tribute to the lives that were also lost that day. Americans do not forget tragic events. Those times are emblazoned into the conscious memory of the nation. When people remember, they become emboldened.

Americans also know that the events that took place twelve years ago this month remind everyone that the nation is vulnerable and needs constant vigilance. The country was rocked out of its comfortable bed that day in 2001 and shaken to its core. That day changed the way America lives, and the way the world has become.

Yes, air travel has become more inconvenient, but it has become safer. Yes, there are more cameras around, but that has reduced the amount of crime as a side effect. Yes, people are edgier and a little more jumpy now than they were before 9/11, but the price for heightened awareness by the military, police, and first responders is worth payment as the watch care is better than it ever has been. Let no one forget that their call is to serve and to protect against all enemies both foreign and domestic�they swear an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States. They are willing to die for it, and so should every American.

According to USA Today, The 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks will be marked by formal events such as public readings of victims' names, wreath-laying ceremonies and charity fundraisers. But across the country, there will also be countless modest actions to honor the heroes and memorialize the victims of that day, such as a family blowing out the candles on a special cake. People will donate blood, fly American flags, attend religious services and take baked goods to firehouses. They will spend extra time with family, give money to charity and volunteer at soup kitchens.

Some who take these small but significant actions have a direct link to the horrors of Sept. 11, such as losing a loved one. Others don't have a close connection but want to commemorate the day. Nearly half of Americans plan to observe this anniversary in an informal way, such as saying a prayer or taking a moment of silence, according to a new American Pulse survey. Thirteen percent will do it in a more formal manner such as attending a memorial service. Even with the passage of time, the desire to recognize each anniversary remains strong.

There also are service projects available for people to do. The Points of Light Foundation believes that bringing people together in service builds a permanent and positive legacy that rekindles the spirit of unity that existed immediately after September 11, 2001. It brings together cultures, bridges differences and unites citizens of goodwill around the world. Points of Light and the Hands On Network affiliates will mobilize thousands of people in disaster preparedness training and building the capacity of nonprofit organizations to equip and mobilize volunteers in times of disaster.

One unfortunate aspect of the distance in time between then and now is the spiritual decline of Americans. When an event that galvanized the human spirit of every person in the nation on September 11, 2011, and then pulled the country together in a spirit of humility and worship, has waned, that is a problem. Perhaps, what individuals should remember is the reason America was founded and exists. Perhaps Americans need to focus on the One who protects from the evil one. Today, as you remember and pray, keep a watchful eye on the future and remember the words of President Reagan:

�Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.�

But today is also a day of hope, celebration, and patriotism. Officially, today is now Patriot Day. This is in honor of the resolve as Americans have shown in the face of adversity. Patriot Day is a day to remind your children and grandchildren what it takes to defend liberty and freedom. That democracy and a free people are ideas that must be defended throughout every generation.

While this tragedy left America and its people shaken, it also uncovered a steely national resolve and a commitment to justice that is uniquely American. Founded in democracy and a belief in divine providence and committed to personal liberty, the United States remains a beacon of freedom to the world. There are those who still grieve, and those who harbor hate in their hearts, but the spirit of forgiveness provides strength in times of need. The spirit of love provides the ability to forgive.

As you reflect on the events of that fateful day, lift America up in prayer, to intercede on behalf of the men and women in uniform who have fought and are fighting to preserve the freedom won in armed combat on remote battlefields. Remember, too, our first responders, our firefighters and peace officers who patrol our communities every day. Finally, please pray for national leaders, that they might be blessed with God's wisdom in the choices they make on the nation�s behalf at home and abroad. As well, say a prayer to help you depend on Him who shelters His children with His wings of protection and His Spirit of peace.

Until next time. We shall never forget.

Health Care and Exhaustion

When you are completely worn out physically, or mentally, you come to a state of exhaustion. Being �tired to the bone� is a common expression, and it usually means you are so tired you have a hard time doing another thing in your daily routine. If you get so incapacitated during your daily activities that you find it almost impossible to accomplish just one more task, then it�s time to take a break.

Americans have more sleep loss and longer work schedules than residents of most other industrialized countries, and both factors can lead to physical and emotional collapse, according to a study by the University of Chicago and reported in the Chicago Tribune. Experts say chronic stress can trigger a cascade of negative health effects.

When you're stressed, for example, the body's "flight or fight" response causes a surge in adrenaline, which can result in valves in the upper digestive tract staying open. When this happens, food and digestive enzymes can travel the wrong way, resulting in reflux, heartburn and other stomach problems. Sleep loss and fatigue also lead to problems with people's circadian rhythm, which can promote inflammation throughout the body and cause gastrointestinal issues.

In some cases, fatigue is a sign of an underlying disease, including cancer, low thyroid, anemia or other metabolic abnormalities, such as adrenal insufficiency. Exhaustion is commonly seen with depression and is a possible side effect of many prescription drugs, including beta blockers, muscle relaxants and mood stabilizers, according to the study. Plus, fatigue caused by dehydration, infection, drug or alcohol abuse, or lack of sleep � either due to insomnia or just burning the candle at both ends � is treatable in the outpatient realm. Exhaustion can also lead to low serotonin, which causes depression, anxiety and insomnia. But it's not accurate if the real diagnosis is drug or alcohol intoxication or overdose.

�Busy," "stressed," and "tired" are intimately connected. They describe the ethos of current times -- and its inevitable aftermath. You try to balance work, family, friends, and various self-improvement programs. You take in a steady stream of information from the people, screens, phones, and sounds that surround you every day. You may not sleep enough. You likely multitask like crazy, striving to get more done in less time. A recent CDC study found that 16 percent of women ages 18 to 44 reported feeling �very tired,� �exhausted,� or otherwise worn out most days, compared with 9 percent of men in the same age range.

For a while, maybe even years, it's easy to feel like you can handle this frantic pace -- or even thrive at it. But ultimately, it works against you. "Stress is pervasive in our society, and it's only getting worse," says integrative-medicine expert Woodson Merrell, M.D., author of "The Source: Unleash Your Natural Energy, Power Up Your Health, and Feel 10 Years Younger."

"And people do not necessarily have the coping skills to deal with it, even when they think they do." You often don't realize how much of your days are spent dealing with stressful situations, and on a physiological level, the effects of stress add up. "You don't start every day with a clean slate," he says. "You start the day with all the stress you've accumulated in your life, and you add to that." At this website, , there are 10 tips listed to help you deal with exhaustion.

Children also get exhausted. According to the National Institutes of Health, a good night's sleep, along with healthy eating and exercise, is the crucial third leg in a child's health triangle. Long overlooked, lack of sleep is now considered a key contributor to children's behavior problems and physical well-being. Studies have shown that kids who don't sleep enough are inattentive, restless, irritable, and more likely to injure themselves. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that one in three kids is sleep-deprived on any given day.

Sleeping well means more than putting in the hours, and the quality of sleep matters as well. Good sleep is uninterrupted, allowing your child to cycle through its five stages. By 6 months, a baby's sleep pattern resembles an adult's: the child progresses into deeper sleep for nearly 90 minutes and then enters a lighter rapid eye movement (REM) phase, when dreaming occurs.

And our kids aren't just resting when they're off in the land of Nod. During the deeper phases of sleep, energy is restored, damaged tissue is repaired, and growth hormones are released, according to Rafael Pelayo, M.D., head of the pediatric sleep service at the Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. Much more detail on this subject can be found at this website: .

There are other types of exhaustion that are separate topics for discussion, but have equally devastating effects on the body and mind, such as heat exhaustion. According to this website, , heat exhaustion is one of those critical health care situations. Heat exhaustion occurs when your body gets too hot. The hypothalamus, the part of the brain that controls thirst and hunger, also controls the body's core temperature. Normally, the body cools itself by sweating.

When you are exposed to high temperatures for a long time (working outdoors in the summer, for example) and don't replace the fluids you lose, the body systems that regulate temperature become overwhelmed. As a result, your body produces more heat than it can release. Heat exhaustion requires immediate attention because it can progress to heat stroke, a life threatening illness.

And, mental exhaustion can be its own topic. If constant stress has you feeling disillusioned, helpless, and completely worn out, you may be suffering from burnout. When you�re burned out, problems seem insurmountable, everything looks bleak, and it�s difficult to muster up the energy to care�let alone do something about your situation. The unhappiness and detachment burnout causes can threaten your job, your relationships, and your health. But burnout can be healed. You can regain your balance by reassessing priorities, making time for yourself, and seeking support. More details about mental exhaustion can be found at this site: .

Regardless of the type, exhaustion is a serious health issue. Don�t push yourself to the ultimate collapse of your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual end. Take time for yourself. Make plans to remove yourself from stressful, time consuming projects and routines that zap your strength, energy, and ability to function at a normal pace. If you don�t, you risk more traumatic issues; and some of that can be seriously problematic from not only a medical point of view, but also your mental state of well being can be significantly affected.

Until next time.

New Medicare cards are coming starting in April

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will start mailing redesigned Medicare cards to beneficiaries in Washington state aft...