SLCo Healthy Lifestyles Blog
January is ...
If caught early, cervical cancer has a survival rate between 93% and 80%. The risk of developing cervical cancer is 3-10 times higher for women who have not had Pap tests.
For starters, cancer is a disease in which the body’s cells grow in unpredictable and unmanageable ways. Cervical cancer is when this occurs in the cervix, which is the lower, narrower end of the uterus. Although the disease only affects women, the family, friends, and surrounding community are also impacted. Cervical cancer screenings are an effective way to detect cervical cancer and to identify the signs of cancer occurring in the future. Since the rate of survival is so high when abnormal cells are detected early, you would imagine that these screenings occur regularly.
Unfortunately, Utah has the lowest rates in the nation for cervical cancer screenings!
There are two main types of cervical cancer screenings; Pap Tests and HPV tests. Pap tests check the uterus and cervix for ‘precancers,’ which are abnormal cell changes that can be observed over time or removed. HPV tests inspect the body for the presence of HPV (Human Papillomavirus), which is a virus that cause cervical cells to start growing abnormally or uncontrollably, leading to cervical cancer.
There are multiple efforts a woman can do to prevent cervical cancer from developing. Preventative measures include:
Click here to learn more about when to get Pap tests and/or HPV vaccines.
Knowing the symptoms of gynecological cancers can help you detect cancer early.
Stages of Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer has four main stages of development, Stages 0, I, II, III, and IV. Abnormal cells are identified during Stage 0 (named ‘carcinoma in situ’); the cells can be identified but are not yet cancerous.
Stage I cervical cancer is when the cancer is positively identified but the cancer is only present in the cervix. Depending on the amount of cancer found, there are subcategories of this stage.
Stage II cervical cancer is found when the cancer has spread to other parts of the gynecological area but has not reached the pelvic wall (the tissues between the hips that join them). Again, depending on the amount of cancer present, subcategories of this stage may be used.
During Stage III cervical cancer, the cancer has spread to the lower portion of the vagina, reached the pelvic wall, and/or caused kidney problems.
Stage IV cervical cancer is divided into two categories (IV A and IV B) depending on where the cancer has spread. In IV A, the cancer has spread to nearby organs, such as the bladder or rectum. In IV B, the cancer has spread to various other parts of body, such as lungs, distant lymph nodes, liver, and bones throughout the body.
There are three main types of treatment for cervical cancer, which are surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Depending on the amount and type of cancers, surgical options include conization, hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, pelvic exenteration, cryosurgery/cryotherapy, laser surgery, and loop electrosurgical excision procedure/LEEP. With proper treatment, survival rate can be very high. The research STRONGLY supports emphasizes that early detection allows for the best survival rates, which is why screenings and tests are so important. Here are the five-year survival rates based on the stages of cervical cancer development. Also, the mortality rate (the rate at which people die as a result of a particular cause) for cervical cancer is on the decline. In fact, the mortality rate has decreased dramatically over the past 25 years, especially among Black and Hispanic Americans.
*NOTE* The graph above shows two lines, but there are four options listed on the right. Since there were few cases of cervical cancer in Utah, it would not be wise to put the data since it would threaten the anonymity of the individuals who died of cervical cancer. Therefore, this graph only shows US data.
Cervical cancer can be a complicated topic, but all women (and people who care about them) should be aware that cervical cancer is an issue to be addressed, head-strong and with prevention in mind. Regular cervical cancer screenings as well as preventative efforts to lower your risk are key. Don’t let the women in your life put off these life-saving procedures and if you are due for a PAP test, be sure to schedule one. Please consult with your physician if you have medical questions or are interested in screening/prevention measures. In this case prevention is easy, so you owe it to yourself (and to the women in your life) to promote regular screening.
Colorectal Cancer and Screening
What is Colorectal Cancer?
The term “
Colorectal Cancer” is an umbrella term used to describe, both, Colon Cancer and Rectal Cancer. Below, you can see the anatomy of the colorectal system (everything in green). As you can see below, the colon has four sections.
- The Ascending Colon: begins where the small intestine attaches to the colon and extends upward on the right side of a person’s abdomen.
- The Transverse Colon: where the colon crosses the body from the right to the left side.
- The Descending Colon: continues downward on the left side
- Sigmoid Colon: joins the descending colon to the rectum, which in turn joins the anus.
Over the course of 10-15 years, polyps can develop in the colon. A
Polyp is a growth of tissue that develops in the lining of the colon or rectum that can become cancerous. One-third to one-half of all people will develop a polyp at some point in their lives.
When caught early, most polyps can be removed easily.
If a polyp is determined to be cancerous, it will be categorized by what Stage it is currently in. The Stage will affect what types of treatments are available. The Stages are as follows:
- In Situ: Cancers that have not yet begun to invade the wall of the colon or rectum; these pre-invasive lesions are not counted in cancer statistics.
- Local: Cancers that have grown into the wall of the colon and rectum, but have not yet extended through the wall to invade nearby tissues.
- Regional: Cancers that have spread through the wall of the colon or rectum and have invaded nearby tissue, or that have spread to nearby lymph nodes.
- Distant: Cancers that have spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver or lung.
In this image, the smallest green cancer polyp on the far left is considered In Situ. The next two are considered Local. The next cancer polyp is considered Regional (notice how it has broken the wall of the colon/rectum and has green cancerous material in the nearby lymph node). Finally, the largest polyp is considered Distant (not only has it grown in size, blocking much of the colon/rectum, it has also spread and could be found in other parts of the body).
What are the risk factors?
Family history can be a significant risk factor. For instance, individuals with immediate family members who have had colorectal cancer are 2 to 3 times more likely (than individuals without a family history) to develop it themselves.
Hereditary factors also play a role for some individuals. People diagnosed with Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome have a very high risk for developing colorectal cancer.
Personal medical history may also have an effect. If an individual has had colorectal cancer previously (even if the previous cancer was entirely removed), they are more likely to develop cancer again (especially if the first cancer was diagnosed at age 60 or younger). Other medical conditions raise the risk of developing colorectal cancer, such as inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis, Crohn disease, etc.) and diabetes (especially among individuals with Type II, and men).
Physical inactivity is considered one of the biggest risk factors for developing colorectal cancer. The more activity a person engages in, the less likely they are to develop colorectal cancer. It is hard to ignore such a strong correlation!
Being overweight or obese is associated with a higher risk for developing colorectal cancer, especially in men.
Diet plays a crucial role (after all, food is what is passed through the digestive system). The dietary recommendations are to consume a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant sources, limit consumption of red and processed meats, eat a variety of vegetables and fruits, choose whole grains in preference to processed grains, and be sure to consume a healthy amount of calcium.
Other factors such as using tobacco products and drinking alcohol also can increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
What is the Importance of Screening Regularly?
The goals of screening for colorectal cancer are:
- The prevention of cancer through the
detection of pre-cancerous growths, and...
- The diagnosis of cancers at an early stage.
There are multiple ways to be screened for colorectal cancer, so be sure to discuss them with your doctor. Here is an overview of some screening methods:
Colorectal Cancer Screening
It is important to note that there are minimal to no symptoms of colorectal cancer in the early stages. Symptoms only start to become noticeable once an individual reaches later stages, at which point it become harder to treat. Keep reading for an explanation of this graph!
This graph shows the five year survival rates depending on when the cancer was identified. For instance, we will use the example of a Non-Hispanic White Woman. First, locate the graph on the right. Then, locate the dark green bars (there will be 4 of them total, on the left side of each group of bars). This graph is divided by stage of cancer. For instance, when looking at the “Local” group of bars, you see that the green bar extends almost to the 90 mark. That means that Non-Hispanic White Women have an almost 90% chance of surviving at least 5 years after being diagnosed with Local Stage Colorectal Cancer. The next group of bars to the right is the “Regional” set. You will notice that Non-Hispanic White Women have an almost 70% chance of surviving at least 5 years after being diagnosed with Regional Stage Colorectal Cancer. Moving one more bar set to the right, you will see that Non-Hispanic White Women have an almost 12% chance of surviving at least 5 years after being diagnosed with Distant Stage Colorectal Cancer. Notice how the survival rates decrease dramatically as diagnosis reaches the later stages.
The good news, however, is that regular screening methods often catch pre-cancerous polyps and cancerous growths in the Local Stage.
This is why regular screening methods are so important!
Here we can see that between 61.1% – 66.0% of Utahns 50 years or older are getting screened regularly for colorectal cancer. Although this is higher than much of the U.S., the national goal is to get 75% of Americans (3 our of every 4 people) screened regularly. Since NOT A SINGLE STATE meets these guidelines, there is a lot of work to do! Be sure to get screened and to promote screenings among your family and friends.
CONSISTENTLY, people always say that colonoscopies are no big deal, but the PREP is the worst part. Always follow your doctor’s instructions, but patients usually have to drink a large amount of certain liquid solutions to clear out the colon, in order to provide the clearest image for the colonoscopy. Also, patients usually are instructed to not eat any solid foods for the entire day beforehand. Although this can be a lot to ask of someone, here are some tips to making this prep easier.
Don't Forget to Laugh!
Sure, colonoscopies and colorectal screenings may not be fun, but they are essential for early detection and prevention of colorectal cancer. Since you never know what the doctors will find, you should be prepared for anything.
April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month!
Leading Safety Into the Future
What is distracted driving?
According to the CDC, there are three main categories that driving distractions fall into.
- Visual: Taking your eyes off the road.
- Manual: Taking your hands off the wheel.
- Cognitive: Taking your mind off of driving.
Below are some examples of what this can look like. Notice how some of these occur across multiple categories! This is why texting while driving is so dangerous. It combines all three!
What are examples of distracted driving?
- Using a cell phone or smart phone
- Eating and drinking
- Talking to passengers
- Reading, including maps
- Using a navigation system
- Watching a video
- Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player
- and any other non-driving activity using your attention
How many have of these have you done?
According to the
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in Utah the police are allowed to
pull you over and ticket you for texting and driving ... AND THEY SHOULD!
Who drives distracted
a recent study, researchers from the University of Utah found that when situational circumstances were pretty much the same, "the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving drunk."
distracted? This health issue is unique because anyone can be a distracted driver. After looking at the list of examples mentioned previously, you can see how easy it is to become distracted. Although millions of people may change the radio station while driving, all it takes is one radio station change at the wrong place and the wrong time to have negative consequences. Since most of us use some sort of vehicle everyday, we sometimes forget that cars and automobiles are powerful devices, capable of great assistance as well as great harm. Here is a great video that describes parental distracted driving.
Parents, Be the the Driver You Want Your Teen to Be
What can YOU do?
the pledge to drive cellphone-free! View
this website for helpful links, videos, and infographics. And remind everyone you know to arrive alive by not being distracted when driving!
Is Sitting the New Smoking?
For decades, we have been hearing about the benefits of living a physically active lifestyle. From early research linking regular physical activity to decreased incidences of a number of ailments such cardiovascular disease, depression, and many forms of cancer (ACSM, 2006), to first lady Michelle Obama’s nationwide campaign “Let’s Move” aimed at encouraging children to move more, it is well established that being active is one of the most important things we can do for our health. But what about the times when we are not moving a lot; the long commute to work, the increasing number of hours spent at a desk, the post-work couch time devoted to relaxing? As long as we make time for physical activity each day, we get a free pass to sit in our remaining hours, correct? Unfortunately, research is beginning to show that the answer to that question is a resounding no.
What research is currently illustrating is that sitting too much is not the same as exercising too little.
The dangers of sitting started to become evident as early as the 1950s, when researchers discovered that men in physically active jobs have less cardiovascular during middle-age, and when disease is present, it is less severe, and they develop it later in life than men in physically inactive jobs (Morris & Crawford, 1958). Fast forward 60 years, and research performed by Katzmarzyk et al. (2009) shows that there is a strong association between sitting and mortality risk from all causes including cardiovascular disease.
To understand the harmful effects of sitting for an extended period of time, the concept of sedentary behavior needs to be examined. The phrase sedentary behavior comes from the Latin word 'sedere', meaning, “to sit” (Owen et al., 2009). Most individuals can sit for many hours at a time, day after day. In fact, approximately 70% of the waking day may be in a sitting behavior.
One recent study (Dunstan DW, et al., 2010) compared adults who spent less than two hours a day in front of the TV or other screen-based entertainment with those who logged more than four hours a day of recreational screen time. Those with greater screen time had:
- A nearly 50 percent increased risk of death from any cause
- About a 125 percent increased risk of events associated with cardiovascular disease, such as chest pain (angina) or heart attack (Mayo Clinic, 2012).
Hence, the idea is born that sitting is as potentially dangerous for our health as smoking!
What steps can be taken to reduce the negative health consequences of sitting for long periods of time?
- When sitting at your desk for an extended period of time, stand up and walk around the office at least every 30 minutes
- Keep a water bottle at your desk and refill it often
- Take a trek to a farther bathroom at your work-site when going to the restroom (if multiple bathrooms are an option)
- When taking phone calls, try standing up to break up the time spent sitting
- Consider installing a standing desk in your work area
- Conduct walking meeting with your colleagues whenever possible
- During long meetings or presentations, stand at the back of the room for a period of time
- Walk to a colleague's desk instead of e-mailing or calling them
1ACSM. (2006). ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription (7th ed.). Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
2 Morris, J.N. and Crawford, M.D. (1958). Coronary heart disease and physical activity of work: Evidence of a national necropsy survey. British Medical Journal, December 20, pp. 1486-1496
3 Katzmarzyk, P.T., Church, T.S., Craig, C.L., and Bouchard, C. (2009). Sitting time and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41(5), pp. 998-1005.
4Owen, N., Bauman, A. and Brown, W. (2009). Too much sitting: a novel and important predictor of chronic disease risk? British Journal of Sports Medicine, 43(2), pp. 81-83.
5 Dunstan DW, et al. Television viewing time and mortality: The Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab). Circulation. 2010;121:384
6 Viva Healthy Cosmetic (2014). Overcome the Dangers of Sitting. Retrieved from http://www.vivahealthycosmetic.com/2013/09/17/danger-of-sitting/
7 Sitting risks: How harmful is too much sitting? Mayo Clinic. (2012, June). Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/adult-health/expert-answers/sitting/faq-20058005
Mindfulness and Your Health
When many of us think of the concept of health and wellness, the first two terms that come to mind are nutrition and physical activity. While these areas of health are important to address for our optimal well-being, there are some other facets of health that often fall to the wayside. Mindfulness, just like diet and exercise, is a crucial piece in the complex puzzle of health.
What is Mindfulness?
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, the found of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which he launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979, mindfulness means “maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.”
Mindfulness is a form of meditation where we are always engaged in the activity at hand. It is the opposite of dwelling in the past and also anxiously anticipating future events. Seems simple, right? Mindfulness, like any other skill, is something that must be practiced in order to feel more proficient in it. This isn't something that you decide to do in one day and then it carries for the rest of your life. It is a conscious, concerted effort every day to stay present as much as possible.
All it takes is 10 minutes
Why is Mindfulness Important to our Health?
Research performed by a group of neuroscientists at Harvard University showed that practicing mindfulness and meditation techniques actually increased regional brain gray matter density. Grey matter is the part of the brain that contains the most neuronal cell bodies. The grey matter includes regions of the brain involved in muscle control, sensory perception such as seeing and hearing, memory, emotions, speech, decision making, and self-control. The lead researcher in this study, Sara Lazar, Ph.D., stated that “although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day.”
Magnetic resonance images (MRI scans) of everyone’s brains were taken before and after they completed the meditation training, and a control group of people who didn’t do any mindfulness training also had their brains scanned.After completing the mindfulness course, all participants reported significant improvement in measures of mindfulness, such as “acting with awareness” and “non-judging.” This means that not only are we experiencing an increased sense of well-being and less anxiety while we are practicing being mindful, we are also re-configuring our brains in ways that continues long after a mindfulness technique is initiated. Britta Hölzel, another researcher involved with the study, noted that “it is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life.”
The Practice of Mindfulness
Where to Get Started How can we incorporate some of these centuries-old mindfulness and meditation techniques into our busy, 21st century lives? Jon Kabat-Zinn has some tips for how to use simple meditation techniques to increase your mindfulness in everyday life:
- Pay close attention to your breathing, especially when you’re feeling intense emotions.
- Notice—really notice—what you’re sensing in a given moment, the sights, sounds, and smells that ordinarily slip by without reaching your conscious awareness.
- Recognize that your thoughts and emotions are fleeting and do not define you, an insight that can free you from negative thought patterns.
- Tune into your body’s physical sensations, from the water hitting your skin in the shower to the way your body rests in your office chair.
Check out these interesting videos and meditation techniques to assist you in practicing mindfulness and developing the lifelong skill of staying in the present moment!
The Rise of Mindfulness in Society: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jtOY2mpHdg
Breath and Bodyscape Guided Meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdG2C8wr1pc
The Benefits of Mindfulness: http://www.helpguide.org/harvard/mindfulness.htm
Brown University Health Education: Mindfulness http://www.brown.edu/Student_Services/Health_Services/Health_Education/
1 Miller A.K.H., Alston R.L., Corsellis J.A.N. Variation with age in the volumes of grey and white matter in the cerebral hemispheres of man: measurements with an image analyser. Neuropathol. Appl. Neurobiol. 1980;6:119–132.
2 Holzel B.K., Carmody J., Vangel M., Congleton C., Yerramsetti S.M., Gard T., Lazar S.W. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density. Psychiatry Research - Neuroimaging, 191 (1) , pp. 36-43.
3 Puddicombe, Andy. "Mindfulness: All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes." TED Talks. TED Conferences, LLC, 01 Nov. 2012. Web. 30 May 2014. .
4 David Creswell, Laura E. Pacilio, Emily K. Lindsay, Kirk Warren Brown. (2014). Brief mindfulness meditation training alters psychological and neuroendocrine responses to social evaluative stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology - June 2014 (Vol. 44Complete, Pages 1-12, DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2014.02.007)