I recently received an e-mail from the American Cancer Society (ACS) that answers questions to four common cancer questions. I would like to share the questions and answers with you.
Question #1: If cancer runs in my family, does that mean I’ll get cancer?
Answer: The reality is that most people diagnosed with cancer don’t have a family history of the disease. Sometimes, people in the same family get cancer because they share behaviors that raise their risk; not because they share genes. Behaviors that increase risk of cancer include smoking, unhealthy eating habits, and lack of exercise. All of these behaviors can be changed to help reduce the risk of cancer.
In other cases, cancer can be caused by an abnormal gene that is passed down through generations. In those cases, what is inherited is not the cancer itself, but the abnormal gene that may – or may not – lead to cancer.
If you have a strong family history of cancer and want to learn your genetic makeup, ask your health care provider to refer you to a genetic counselor to find out if genetic testing may be right for you.
Question #2: I’m under the age of 50, Do I need to worry about colorectal cancer?
Answer: ACS has released updated guidelines for colorectal cancer screening. The new recommendations say screening should begin at age 45 for people at average risks. Previously, the recommended screening began at age 50 for people at average risks.
The reason the recommended age for screening was lowered was because of a major analysis that was done by researchers at the American Cancer Society. The data showed that new cases of colorectal cancer are occurring at an increasing rate among younger adults. Therefore, the recommended guidelines were lowered to the age of 45 for adults of average risk will result in more lives being saved from this type of cancer.
People that are at higher risk are those with:
- A strong family history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
- A personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
- A known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC)
- A personal history of radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer
The best way to determine when you should begin colorectal cancer screenings and how often is to talk to your health care provider. To learn more about colorectal screening you can click this link
Question #3: Are there any health benefits to just walking?
Answer: Walking is the most common type of physical activity in the US and can help you live longer. ACS recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (equal to a brisk walk or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (makes your heartbeat and breathing faster and makes you sweat) each week. A study performed by ACS found that all levels of walking, even levels below the recommended guidelines were associated with lower mortality risk.
And remember, walking is free, easy and most of us can do it.
Question #4: Can chocolate be good for you?
Answer: Studies conducted on chocolate have come back with mixed results. Some report that eating chocolate may lower the risk of certain cancers, while others show no benefit, and still others show that eating chocolate increases cancer risk. There is stronger evidence suggesting that eating chocolate may help prevent heart disease. Flavanols have been shown to lower blood pressure and make your heart, veins, and arteries work better. Try eating small amounts of high-quality dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. It might give your heart some benefit, and it generally has less sugar and saturated fat than milk or other kinds of chocolate. However, please remember dark chocolate is still candy, and it still has extra calories, sugar, and fats so eat it sparingly.
Remember life is precious and we never know when our time will be up. Let’s do all we can to take care of our bodies in every way … physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally.
Until next time, I continue to challenge you to live BOLDLY!