Wellness Wednesday: Prostate Health Awareness Month

African American boy and group of teens in blue shirtsDid you know that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men?

Mercy Health System would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to care for yourself, and your loved ones, by reminding you of the importance of preventive care.

As they say, “the best defense is a good offense,” and, thankfully, disease prevention begins with a variety of factors including understanding the risks – the ones we can control and the ones we can’t. According to the American Cancer Society, risk factors for prostate cancer include:

Age

The chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. Nearly two out of three prostate cancers are found in men over the age of 65.

Race/ethnicity

Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in men of other races. African-American men are also more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage and are more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men. Prostate cancer occurs less often in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites. The reasons for these racial and ethnic differences are not clear.

Family history

Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that there may be an inherited or genetic factor. Having a father or brother has been diagnosed more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease.

Diet

Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer. These men also tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Doctors are not sure which of these factors is responsible for raising the risk.

Obesity

Most studies have not found that being obese is linked with a higher risk of getting prostate cancer. Some studies have found that obese men have a lower risk of getting a less dangerous form of the disease, but a higher risk of getting more aggressive one. The reasons for this are not clear.

While knowing the physical risk factors is key in helping prevent any disease, so is maintaining a healthy spirit. For example:

  • Remaining optimistic. Research shows that happiness and a positive attitude are associated with lower rates of disease. Focus on your thoughts — stop negative ones and replace them with positive ones.
  • Controlling stress. Stress relievers like deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises and keeping a journal, can be helpful in controlling the impact stress has on your body.
  • Doing everything in moderation. Don’t try to do too much at one time – make sure to have time for proper nutrition, sleep, work and play.
  • Creating a network. Maintaining a close circle of family and friends can provide you with support when you need it.

Lastly, getting annual screening tests from your Primary Care Physician (PCP) is vital to sustaining your health and helping prevent diseases. Having a PCP who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. If you don’t have a PCP, just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions. To find a Mercy physician, visit http://www.mercyhealth.org/find-a-doctor.


More Information

CDC Prostate Cancer Feature

Prostate Cancer Foundation

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Wellness Wednesday: It’s Healthy Aging Month

Chinese Grandparents Sitting With Grandchildren In ParkPeople in the U.S. are living longer than ever before. Many seniors live active and healthy lives. But there’s no getting around one thing: as we age, our bodies and minds change. There are things you can do to stay healthy and active as you age:

Eat a balanced diet

Studies show that a good diet in your later years reduces your risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart diseases and certain cancers. As you age, you might need less energy. But you still need just as many of the nutrients in food.

Keep your mind and body active

Exercise is perhaps the best demonstrated way to maintain good health, fitness, and independence. Research has shown that regular physical activity improves quality of life for older adults and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and many other illnesses and disabilities. In many ways, it is the best prescription we have for healthy, successful aging.

Don’t smoke

iStock_000018054489_LargeDo we really need to explain this one? Smoking is bad for you. So if you smoke, you should quit. There are many programs out there that can help you kick the habit. Visit the classes and events page on our website to join a free smoking cessation group, or ask your doctor for more information on ways to quit. Even if you’ve spent a lifetime smoking, you will benefit from stopping now.

Get regular checkups

Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start. They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. Which exams and screenings you need depends on your age, health and family history, and lifestyle choices such as what you eat, how active you are, and whether you smoke.

To make the most of your next check-up, here are some things to do before you go:

Practice safety habits to avoid accidents and prevent falls

A fall can change your life. If you’re elderly, it can lead to disability and a loss of independence. If your bones are fragile from osteoporosis, you could break a bone, often a hip. But aging alone doesn’t make people fall. Diabetes and heart disease affect balance. So do problems with circulation, thyroid or nervous systems. Some medicines make people dizzy. Eye problems or alcohol can be factors. Any of these things can make a fall more likely.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, NIH: National Institute on Aging

Wellness Wednesday: Keeping Your Cholesterol in Check

September is National Cholesterol Education Month, a good time to get your blood cholesterol checked and take steps to lower it if it is high.

More than 102 million American Adults have total cholesterol levels above healthy levels (at or above 200 mg/dL). More than 35 million of these people have levels of 240 mg/dL or higher, which puts them at high risk for heart disease.

What is cholesterol?

SeniorsCholesterol is a waxy, fat-like substance found in your body and in many foods. Your body needs cholesterol to function normally and makes all that you need. Too much cholesterol can build up in your arteries. After a while, these deposits narrow your arteries, putting you at risk for heart disease and stroke. Not all cholesterol is bad. Cholesterol is just one of the many substances created and used by our bodies to keep us healthy.

Total cholesterol is a measure of the total amount of cholesterol in your blood and is based on the HDL, LDL and triglycerides numbers.

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol

HDL cholesterol absorbs cholesterol and carries it back to the liver, which flushes it from the body. HDL is known as “good” cholesterol because having high levels can reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke. Low HDL cholesterol puts you at higher risk for heart disease. People with high blood triglycerides usually also have lower HDL cholesterol. Genetic factors, type 2 diabetes, smoking, being overweight and being sedentary can all result in lower HDL cholesterol.

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol

LDL cholesterol makes up the majority of the body’s cholesterol. LDL is known as “bad” cholesterol because having high levels can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries and result in heart disease and stroke. However, your LDL number should no longer be the main factor in guiding treatment to prevent heart attack and stroke, according to new guidelines from the American Heart Association. For patients taking statins, the guidelines say they no longer need to get LDL cholesterol levels down to a specific target number. A diet high in saturated and trans fats raises LDL cholesterol.

Triglycerides

Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood that your body uses for energy. Normal triglyceride levels vary by age and sex. A high triglyceride level combined with low HDL cholesterol or high LDL cholesterol is associated with atherosclerosis, the buildup of fatty deposits in artery walls that increases the risk for heart attack and stroke

How do you know if your cholesterol is high?

cholesterolHigh cholesterol usually doesn’t have any symptoms. As a result, many people do not know that their cholesterol levels are too high. However, doctors can do a simple blood test to check your cholesterol. High cholesterol can be controlled through lifestyle changes or if it is not enough, through medications.

It’s important to check your cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is a major risk factor for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S. The National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) recommends that adults aged 20 years or older have their cholesterol checked every 5 years.

Preventive guidelines for cholesterol screening among young adults differ, but experts agree on the need to screen young adults who have other risk factors for coronary heart disease: obesity, smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes and family history

Conditions That Increase Risk for High Cholesterol

Diabetes mellitus increases the risk for high cholesterol. Your body needs glucose (sugar) for energy. Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that helps move glucose from the food you eat to your body’s cells. If you have diabetes, your body doesn’t make enough insulin, can’t use its own insulin as well as it should, or both. So this causes sugars to build up in the blood.

Behaviors That Increase Your Risk for High Cholesterol

Unhealthy Diet: Diets high in saturated fats, trans fat, and cholesterol have been linked to high cholesterol and related conditions, such as heart disease.

Physical Inactivity: Not getting enough physical activity can make you gain weight, which can lead to high cholesterol.

Obesity: Obesity is excess body fat. Obesity is linked to higher triglycerides and higher LDL cholesterol, and lower HDL cholesterol. In addition to high cholesterol, obesity can also lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Talk to your health care team about a plan to reduce your weight to a healthy level.

Family History Can Increase Risk for High Cholesterol

Portrait Of Extended Family Group In ParkWhen members of a family pass traits from one generation to another through genes, that process is called heredity.

Genetic factors likely play some role in high cholesterol, heart disease and other related conditions. However, it is also likely that people with a family history of high cholesterol share common environments and other potential factors that increase their risk.

If you have a family history of high cholesterol, you are more likely to have high cholesterol. You may need to get your cholesterol levels checked more often than people who do not have a family history of high cholesterol.

The risk for high cholesterol can increase even more when heredity combines with unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as eating an unhealthy diet.

Some people have an inherited genetic condition called familial hypercholesterolemia. This condition causes very high LDL cholesterol levels beginning at a young age.

If you have high cholesterol, what can you do to lower it?

Your doctor may prescribe medications to treat your high cholesterol. In addition, you can lower your cholesterol levels through lifestyle changes:

  • Low-fat and high-fiber food (Eat more fresh fruits, fresh vegetables and whole grains).
  • For adults, getting at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate or 1 hour and 15 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week. For those aged 6-17, getting 1 hour or more of physical activity each day.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Don’t smoke or quit if you smoke.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Heart Association


More Information:

Know the Facts About High Cholesterol [CDC Fact Sheet]

American Heart Association’s Cholesterol SmartHub

Wellness Wednesday: Taking Steps to Prevent Prostate Cancer

iStock_000016342465_LargeDid you know that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among American men?

In 2013 (the most recent year numbers are available):

  • 176,450 men in the U.S. were diagnosed with prostate cancer.*
  • 27,681 men in the U.S. died from prostate cancer.*

*Incidence counts cover about 99% of the U.S. population; death counts cover about 100% of the U.S. population. Use caution when comparing incidence and death counts.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and we would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to care for yourself and your loved ones, by reminding you of the importance of preventive care.

Fig4.png

Controlling Risk

Disease prevention begins with a variety of factors including understanding the risks—the ones we can control and the ones we can’t. According to the American Cancer Society, risk factors for prostate cancer include:

Age

The chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. Nearly two out of three prostate cancers are found in men over the age of 65.

Race/ethnicity

Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in men of other races. African-American men are also more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage and are more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as white men. Prostate cancer occurs less often in Asian-American and Hispanic/Latino men than in non-Hispanic whites. The reasons for these racial and ethnic differences are not clear.

Family history

Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that there may be an inherited or genetic factor. Having a father or brother has been diagnosed more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease.

Diet

Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer. These men also tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Doctors are not sure which of these factors is responsible for raising the risk.

Obesity

Most studies have not found that being obese is linked with a higher risk of getting prostate cancer. Some studies have found that obese men have a lower risk of getting a less dangerous form of the disease, but a higher risk of getting more aggressive one. The reasons for this are not clear.

BlueStar1Maintain a Healthy Outlook

While knowing the physical risk factors is key in helping prevent any disease, so is maintaining a healthy spirit. For example:

  • Remaining optimistic. Research shows that happiness and a positive attitude are associated with lower rates of disease. Focus on your thoughts—stop negative ones and replace them with positive ones.
  • Controlling stress. Stress relievers like deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises and keeping a journal, can be helpful in controlling the impact stress has on your body.
  • Doing everything in moderation. Don’t try to do too much at one time—make sure to have time for proper nutrition, sleep, work and play.
  • Creating a network. Maintaining a close circle of family and friends can provide you with support when you need it.

Lastly, getting annual screening tests is vital to sustaining your health and helping prevent diseases. Having a primary care physician (PCP) who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. If you don’t have a PCP, just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

To find a Mercy Health System physician, visit www.mercyhealth.org/find-a-doctor.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

 

Wellness Wednesday: Are Vaccinations on your back-to-school list?

VaccinationAll school-age children, from preschoolers to college students, need vaccines. The CDC has online resources and tools to help parents and doctors make sure all kids are up to date on recommended vaccines and protected from serious diseases.

What All Parents Need To Know

Making sure that children of all ages receive all their vaccinations on time is one of the most important things you can do as a parent to ensure your children’s long-term health—as well as the health of friends, classmates and others in your community.

To keep children in schools healthy, your state may require children going to school to be vaccinated against certain diseases, such as pertussis (whooping cough). If you’re unsure of your state’s school requirements, now is the time to check with your child’s doctor, your child’s school, or your health department. That way, you can get your child any vaccines he  or she needs before the back-to-school rush.

Immunization Requirements for Child Care and School

The CDC does not set immunization requirements for schools or child care centers. Instead, each state decides which immunizations are required for your child’s enrollment and attendance at a child care facility or school in that state.

  • Talk to a staff member to learn what vaccines are required at the school or child care facility in which you would like to enroll your child. They will be able to provide you with specific information about their requirements.
  • If you would like to know your state’s immunization requirements, contact your State’s Immunization Program or Department of Health.
  • CDC also has a tool to help find more information about your state’s school vaccination requirements. (Select your state under “Grantee” options, your child’s level, and click “Get Results” to view your state vaccination requirements.)

BackToSchool

Disease Outbreaks Still Happen

It’s true that some vaccine-preventable diseases have become very rare thanks to vaccines. However, cases and outbreaks still happen. In 2014, the United States experienced a record number of measles cases. From January 1 to August 1, 2014, there were 593 cases of measles reported in the U.S., with 18 outbreaks of this disease. From January 1 to June 16, 2014, almost 10,000 cases of whooping cough were reported to CDC by 50 states and Washington, D.C. These numbers represent a 24 percent increase compared with the same time period in 2013.

Outbreaks of whooping cough at middle and high schools can occur as protection from childhood vaccines fades. Those who are vaccinated against whooping cough but still get the disease are much more likely to have a mild illness compared to those who never received the vaccine.

Making sure your children stay up to date with vaccinations is the best way to protect your communities and schools from outbreaks that can cause unnecessary illnesses and deaths.

Vaccines for Your Young Children (Newborns through 6 years old)

2014 Recommended Immunizations for Children from Birth Through 6

During the early years of life, your children need vaccines to protect them from 14 diseases that can be serious, even life-threatening. Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children increase the risk of disease not only for their own children, but also for other children and adults throughout the entire community. For example, vulnerable newborns too young to have received the maximum protection from the recommended doses of vaccines or people with weakened immune systems, such as some people with cancer and transplant recipients, are also at higher risk of disease.

Flu vaccines are recommended for kids in preschool and elementary school to help keep them healthy. In fact, all children 6 months and older should get flu vaccines. Getting all of your children vaccinated—as well as other family members and caregivers—can help protect infants younger than 6 months old. Ask your family’s doctor or nurse about getting flu shots or the nasal spray to protect against flu.

Parents can find out what vaccines their children need and when the doses should be given by reviewing CDC’s recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule.

Vaccines for Your Preteens and Teens (7 years old through 18 years old)

2015 Recommended Immunizations for Children from 7 Through 18 Ye

Preteens and teens need vaccines, too! As kids get older, they are still at risk for certain diseases. Before heading back to school, three vaccines are recommend for 11-12 year olds—HPV, Tdap, and meningococcal conjugate vaccine—for continued protection.

HPV vaccine is important because it can prevent HPV infections that can cause cancer later in life. For other diseases, like whooping cough, the protection from vaccine doses received in childhood fades over time. That’s why 11–12 year-olds are also recommended to get the booster shot called Tdap to help protect them from whooping cough, tetanus, and diphtheria. Meningococcal conjugate vaccine helps prevent two of the three most common causes of meningococcal disease, which can be very serious—even life-threatening.

It’s important to know that flu can be serious, even for healthy, young people. Preteens and teens are no exception. So older kids should get at least one flu vaccine every year.

To learn more about vaccines for your preteens and teens, talk to your child’s healthcare provider or visit the CDC’s preteen and teen vaccine pages. If your preteens or teens haven’t already gotten their vaccines, you should get them caught up as soon as possible.

The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program offers vaccines at no cost for eligible children through doctors enrolled in the program. Find out if your child qualifies.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Wellness Wednesday: Preventing Measles Breakouts with Vaccination

Measles is the most deadly of all childhood rash/fever illnesses. The disease spreads very easily, so it is important to protect against infection.

VaccineTo prevent measles, children (and some adults) should be vaccinated with the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine. Two doses of this vaccine are needed for complete protection. Children should be given the first dose of MMR vaccine at 12 to 15 months of age. The second dose can be given four (4) weeks later, but is usually given before the start of kindergarten at 4 to 6 years of age.

Measles starts with a fever. Soon after, it causes a cough, runny nose and red eyes. Then a rash of tiny, red spots breaks out. It starts at the head and spreads to the rest of the body. Measles can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (swelling of the brain), and death. Measles spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It is so contagious that if one person has it, 90% of the people around him or her will also become infected if they are not protected.

People in the U.S. still get measles, but it’s not very common because most people in this country are protected against measles through vaccination. However, measles is still common in other parts of the world, including many countries in Europe, Asia, the Pacific and Africa. Every year, unvaccinated people get measles while they are abroad and bring the disease into the U.S. and spread it to others.

Measles can spread quickly in communities where people are not vaccinated. Children and anyone else who is not protected against measles is at risk of getting infected. That’s why it is so important to be up to date on vaccinations, including before traveling abroad.

Measles

Protect your Child with Measles Vaccine

You can protect your child against measles with a combination vaccine that provides protection against three diseases: measles, mumps and rubella (MMR). The MMR vaccine is proven to be very safe and effective. CDC recommends that children get two doses:

  • the first dose at 12 through 15 months of age, and
  • the second dose before entering school at 4 through 6 years of age.

Your child’s doctor may offer the MMRV vaccine, which protects against measles, mumps, rubella and varicella (chickenpox). MMRV vaccine is licensed for children 12 months through 12 years of age. It may be used in place of MMR vaccine if a child needs to have varicella vaccine in addition to measles, mumps and rubella vaccines. Your child’s doctor can help you decide which vaccine to use.

Make Sure Your Child is Protected Before Traveling Abroad

VaccineChildren six (6) months of age and older should be protected against measles before they travel abroad.

  • Infants six (6) months through 11 months of age should have one dose of measles vaccine. Infants who get one dose of measles vaccine before their first birthday should get two more doses of the vaccine (one dose at 12 through 15 months of age and another dose at least 28 days later).
  • Children 12 months of age or older should have two doses separated by at least 28 days.

Talk with your child’s doctor to see if he or she should be vaccinated before traveling abroad.

Some teens and adults need measles vaccine too. For more information, see Measles Vaccination: Who Needs It?

infographic-measles-contagious.png

Paying for Measles Vaccine

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of vaccines. But you may want to check with your health insurance provider before going to the doctor. Learn how to pay for vaccines.

If you don’t have insurance or if your insurance does not cover vaccines for your child, the Vaccines for Children Program may be able to help. This program helps families of eligible children who might not otherwise have access to vaccines. To find out if your child is eligible, visit the VFC website or ask your child’s doctor. You can also contact your state VFC coordinator.

Helpful documents:

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


More Information:

Diseases and the vaccines that prevent them: measles

Measles Elimination

Measles CDC Fact Sheet

Measles Infographic

Wellness Wednesday: Teens and the meningococcal vaccine

Why does my child need meningococcal vaccine?

meningococcalMeningococcal vaccines help protect against the bacteria that cause meningococcal disease. These infections don’t happen very often, but can be very dangerous when they do. Meningococcal disease refers to any illness that is caused by Neisseria meningitidis bacteria. The two most severe and common illnesses caused by these bacteria include infections of the fluid and lining around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis) and bloodstream infections (bacteremia or septicemia). Even if they get treatment, about 1 in 10 people with meningococcal disease will die from it.

Meningococcal disease can spread from person to person. The bacteria that cause this infection can spread when people have close or lengthy contact with someone’s saliva, like through kissing or coughing, especially if they are living in the same place. Teens and young adults are at increased risk for meningococcal disease.

Meningococcal disease can become very serious, very quickly. The meningococcal vaccine is the best way to protect teens from getting meningococcal disease.

When should my child be vaccinated?

Group Of Children Hanging Out Together In Mall

All 11 to 12 year olds should be vaccinated with a single dose of a quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine. Older teens need a second shot when they are 16 years old so they stay protected when their risk is the highest.

Teens received the meningococcal vaccine for the first time when they were 13, 14, or 15 years old should still get the booster shot when they are 16 years old. If your older teen didn’t get the meningococcal shot at all, you should talk to their doctor about getting it as soon as possible.

Teens and young adults (16 through 23 year olds) may also be vaccinated with a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine (2 or 3 doses depending on brand), preferably at 16 through 18 years old. If your older teen didn’t get the meningococcal shot at all, you should talk to their doctor about getting it as soon as possible. This is really important if they are about to move into a college residence hall as a first-year student or go into the military. Living in community settings like those can increase the risk of getting meningococcal disease.

What else should I know about the vaccine?

Meningococcal vaccine has been studied very carefully and is safe and effective. It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

Like many vaccines, the meningococcal shot may cause mild side effects, like redness and soreness where the shot was given (usually in the arm). A few people who get the vaccine will get a fever. Some preteens and teens might faint after getting meningococcal vaccine or any shot. To help avoid fainting, preteens and teens should sit or lie down when they get a shot and then for about 15 minutes after getting the shot. Serious side effects from meningococcal vaccine are rare.

Where can I learn more?

Talk to your child’s doctor or nurse to learn more about meningococcal vaccine and the other vaccines that your child may need. You can also find out more about these vaccines on CDC’s Vaccines for Preteens and Teens website at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/who/teens.

To learn about who should and should not get this vaccine, when they should be vaccinated, and the risks and benefits of this vaccine, consult the meningococcal vaccine information statement.

Sources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


More Information:

Meningococcal Vaccines for Preteens and Teens

Meningococcal Vaccination for Preteens and Teens: Questions and Answers

Meningococcal Disease: CDC