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Colorectal Cancer Awareness: What You Should Know about Screening

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Special to the NNPA from The National Cancer Institute –

It may be one of your parents. It may be a co-worker, or someone from your church. It could be a neighbor, a girlfriend from your book club, or the favorite uncle or aunt who always organizes the summer family reunion. It could even be you who will face colorectal cancer one day. It can be unsettling to think about it, but know that you can turn to the National Cancer Institute for information if you are faced with this situation.

Also, there is something you can do to help prevent colorectal cancer in your life and in the lives of those you associate with and love: get regularly screened for colorectal cancer. Read on to learn more information about colorectal cancer and colorectal cancer screening so you will be fully informed.

Although deaths from colorectal cancer have declined in recent decades, colorectal cancer remains the third most frequently diagnosed cancer in both men and women, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths, in the United States. And, rates of colorectal cancer diagnosis and death are higher for African Americans than for all other racial and ethnic groups in the United States.

Because colorectal cancer can take many years to develop, early detection and treatment of the disease greatly improve the chances of a cure. Screening also enables doctors to detect and remove abnormal colorectal growths, or polyps, before they even become cancer. According to most current guidelines, people at average risk for this disease should be screened regularly starting at age 50. If any family members have had colorectal cancer, you should talk to your doctor about when and how often you should be screened, because you are at a higher risk.

Unfortunately, almost half of people aged 50 to 75 are not being screened regularly for colorectal cancer. And, despite some gains, African Americans are still less likely to be screened than Whites. If cost is keeping you from making that appointment, remember that most insurance plans help pay for colorectal cancer screening tests for people aged 50 or older. Many plans also help pay for screening tests for people younger than 50 who are at increased risk for colorectal cancer. Check with your health insurance plan to determine your colorectal cancer screening benefits. If you do not have insurance, call 1-800-4-CANCER to learn about free or low-cost screening options in your community. Your local health department may also have information. Under the health insurance reforms signed into law earlier this year all new private plans will provide basic preventive services such as colon cancer screening at no cost.

If fear or a lack of understanding is keeping you from making that colorectal screening appointment, start by learning more about the different screening options available to you. On www.cancer.gov (search term: Colorectal Screening), you can read about screening options and compare the advantages and disadvantages of each. Typical screening options are colonoscopy every 10 years, yearly fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), and flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years along with FOBT every two to three years, but new and potentially more comfortable screening techniques are being developed. You can also ask your doctor the following questions about screening:

· Which screening tests do you recommend for me and why?
· How much do the tests cost?
· Will my health insurance plan help pay for screening tests?
· Are the tests painful?
· How soon after the tests will I learn the results?

For more information about colorectal cancer, contact the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Information Service (CIS) toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday - Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. Trained information specialists are available to answer your questions in English or Spanish. You can also contact NCI’s CIS on the internet, via LiveHelp Online Chat (Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. EST) or via email at www.cancer.gov/contact. Learn about all you can do to lower your risk of colorectal cancer and take control of your health.

NCI leads the National Cancer Program and the NIH effort to dramatically reduce the burden of cancer and improve the lives of cancer patients and their families, through research into prevention and cancer biology, the development of new interventions, and the training and mentoring of new researchers.

We Are What We Eat: Healthy Eating for Healthy Children

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By Dena Herman, PhD, MPH, RD –

The percentage of overweight children in the United States has reached epidemic numbers. In fact, one third of our nation’s kids are carrying too much weight as a result of a poor diet high in unhealthy fats and simple sugars and a sedentary lifestyle.

Besides these much talked-about causes, experts believe there could be other, less obvious factors that influence the development of, obesity, but also diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Although more research is being done to gain a better understanding about these diseases, improving our children’s diet and helping them increase their physical activity will significantly reduce their chances of becoming obese and, if their Body Mass Index (BMI) is already high, will help them reach a healthy weight.

One of the best ways to improve our childrens’ diet is by following the Mediterranean diet, which consists in consuming healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts, lean meat, fish, whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables. Although these guidelines are widely known, most parents find it difficult to convince kids to consume these products because they are not as popular among their peers and parents do not always have the tools to prepare fresh foods tastefully.

Nonetheless, there are plenty of ways to use these nutritious options to create delicious, quick meals and snacks that the little ones will enjoy. The following are a few tips to get you started:

- Encourage kids to eat fresh fruit instead of drinking fruit juice for a better source of fiber, which is often lacking in their diets. Have cubes of melon, grapes and other fruit choices easily available when kids come home from school and are hungry for a snack. In the summer, place fruit cubes in the freezer for a refreshing afterschool snack or blend up some fruit and freeze it as popsicles! You can also try giving kids “crudités,” which are cut-up vegetables consumed raw. Not only does the name sound cool but, when served with a creamy bean dip made from cannellini beans, these veggies will have them asking for more. Good options include grape tomatoes, baby carrots and sugar snap peas.

- Get the kids involved in what they eat and make your own trail mix. Ask kids to choose a few of their favorite nuts, seeds and dried fruits on the next grocery shopping trip. Home-made trail mixes are great for lunches and snacks, and packed with healthy omega-3 fatty acids that are excellent for healthy brain function and getting homework done quicker.

- Fish is brain food - that is why they travel in schools. Try to include fish as part of a healthy family dinner at least twice a week. Fish such as mahi-mahi, cod or halibut make great choices. Experiment with flavorful Mediterranean marinades using herbs like oregano, basil and garlic as well as fresh lemon or orange juice. You can also slice and bread the fish into sticks and bake it in the oven - instead of frying it - for a healthy, kid-friendly dish.

- Sandwiches are easy school meals but they can get tiresome. Rev up the flavor and interest by spreading homemade pesto or tapenade instead of mayonnaise on crusty, whole-wheat, toasted bread. Finely slice, marinate and grill chicken or turkey breasts for a tasty alternative to deli meats.

- Who needs cupcakes for school birthdays? Surprise the kids by making delicious fruit skewers with a variety of fruits – and yes, you can dip the strawberries in dark chocolate for a phytonutrient punch they won't forget. If your kids can’t pass without the cupcakes or other sweet treats, look for healthier, less processed options or dig for a lower-fat, lower-sugar recipe alternative and bake a limited amount.

- Work with your children’s tastes but try to expand their palates. If your kids’ favorite foods are pizza and pasta, try creating healthier versions of their favorite meals by making substitutions and adding vegetables or fruits. For example, substitute pepperoni in pizzas for barbecue chicken and add fresh tomatoes and garlic. Peas and pearl onions add taste and dimension to plain pasta but don’t forget to add the parmesan cheese.

Eating meals as a family offers the opportunity for children to learn and experience new foods as well as eating memories they will never forget.

Community Briefs

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The Salute to Veterans Parade will be held on Saturday, April 16, 2011, 10:00 am - 12:00 noon to honors Veterans of all ages and eras. This is a FREE, fun, family event! The Parade Route is from Riverside Community College at Magnolia and Ramona to Market, right on 10th St, right on Main St. ending at the Historic Riverside County Courthouse on Main at 13th Street. Pancake Breakfast at 7:30 am RCC Parking Lot at Ramona and Olivewood.

Join the Parade! Visit our web site for photos, parade route, application form, spectator parking and other information at asalutetoveterans.com or call (951) 687-1175.


The damage to nuclear reactors in Japan has led to concerns about radiation exposure in San Bernardino County. Japan's nuclear emergency presents no current danger to California residents, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The California Department of Public Health is monitoring the situation closely with state and federal partners, including the NRC, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, FEMA Region IX, and the California Emergency Management Agency.

The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health does not recommend taking potassium iodide tablets (also called KI) as a precaution, since state and federal experts do not anticipate a risk of radiation exposure to local residents at this time. Potassium iodide tablets can present a danger to people with allergies to iodine, shellfish or who have thyroid problems. Potassium iodide tablets should not be taken until/unless directed by authorities, or advised by a medical professional.

The San Bernardino County Department of Public Health continues to closely monitor the situation, and will alert clinicians if recommendations change.

For more information, call the California Department of Public Health hotline at 916-341-3947.

New Target For Hiv/Aids - Women And Adults Ages 47-65

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infections continue at high levels, with an estimated 56,300 Americans becoming infected each year.

Additionally, more than 18,000 people with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) still die each year in the United States.

While major strides have been made in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, the disease continues its devastating effects on all sectors of American society. The impact however, has become increasingly more serious among women and adults between the ages of 47- 65.

The CDC reports that in 2007 more than a quarter of HIV diagnoses in the United States were among women and girls aged 13 years and older. Women are more likely to be infected through sex with a male partner. Minority women continue to be disproportionately affected by HIV infection. The rate of new HIV infections for African American women is nearly 20 times the rate for white women. The rate of new HIV infection among Hispanic women is nearly four times that of white women. In San Bernardino County, African American and Hispanic women together accounted for 83% of HIV diagnoses among women in 2009 and 14% of all HIV diagnoses.

Many factors contribute to the increasing rates of HIV infection in adults aged 47-65. One contributing factor is that older adults have often been overlooked by targeted education and prevention messages.

Sexually active adults between 47-65 years of age may use condoms less often due to a lower concern of pregnancy, thereby increasing their risk for HIV. The use of sexual enhancement medications among this age group also contributes to the increased risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections, including HIV. Further, the lack of communication between adults and their doctors regarding sexual practices contributes to a perceived low HIV risk among this group and a lack of testing. In 2008 adults 50 years of age and older represented 17 percent of all new HIV diagnoses in the United States, Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare, Health Officer, San Bernardino County Department of Public Health attributes this to “the simple reason that older people don’t get tested for HIV on a regular basis.”

Although HIV is a manageable disease, education and prevention continue to be the ultimate goal in stopping the spread of infection among all groups, especially women and adults ages 47-64. It is important to be aware of specific challenges faced by women and adults ages 47-64 and to ensure that they are informed and know how to protect themselves from infection. Dr. Ohikhuare states that, “Testing is key in HIV prevention and I encourage everyone to make HIV testing part of their routine medical care.”

For more information about HIV/AIDS and testing, call the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health AIDS Program at (800) 255- 6560, or visit the website at www.KnowSBC.com.

ACS Encourages African-Americans 50 and Older to Test for Colon Cancer

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The American Cancer Society encourages African Americans 50 and older to make getting tested for colon cancer a priority. Approximately 2,000 African American men and women in California are expected to be diagnosed with colon cancer in 2011.

Colorectal cancer (commonly referred to as colon cancer) can actually be prevented through screening, which allows doctors to find polyps in the colon and remove them before they turn cancerous.

Regularly scheduled cancer screening can save lives and help achieve the American Cancer Society’s goal of creating a world with less cancer and more birthdays.

For those seeking assistance visit cancer.org or call 1.800.227.2345 for free information and details about free cancer patient/caregiver support programs.

Screening for colon cancer has been proven to reduce deaths from the disease both by decreasing the number of people who are diagnosed with it and by finding a higher proportion of cancers at early, more treatable stages. Colon cancer rates in California have declined rapidly in the last two decades. Incidence rates of colon cancer in California declined significant ly for all four major racial/ethnic groups since 1988 – a decrease of 27% among non- Hispanic whites, 18% among African Americans, 14% among Asian/Pacific Islanders and 7% among Hispanics.

While incidence of colon cancer is declining, screening rates among African Americans remain low.

“We have an opportunity to significantly reduce California death rates from colon cancer through regular screening,” said Dr. Donald Henderson, American Cancer Society volunteer and colon cancer expert. “And, this cancer can be prevented through early detection and removal of polyps. We hope that people will use March – National Colon Cancer Awareness Month – as an opportunity to make screening a priority and talk to their doctors, family members and friends about getting tested. By doing so, they are taking a key step toward staying well.”

An estimated 14,775 total cases of colorectal cancer are expected to occur in California in 2011, and an estimated 5,090 deaths. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women.

Risk factors for colon cancer include a personal family history of the disease.

The American Cancer Society recommends the following tests to find colon cancer early:

Tests That Detect Precancerous Polyps and Cancer

• Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or

• Colonoscopy every 10 years, or

• Double contrast barium enema (DCBE) every 5 years, or

• CT colonography (CTC) every 5 years Tests That Primarily Detect Cancer

• Annual guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) with high test sensitivity for cancer, or

• Annual fecal immunochemical test (FIT) with high test sensitivity for cancer, or

• Stool DNA test (sDNA), with high sensitivity for cancer, interval uncertain. Because of a greater potential to prevent cancer, the tests that have a higher likelihood of finding both polyps and cancer are preferred if patients are willing to use them and have access.

In addition to screening, healthy lifestyle behaviors can reduce risk of colon cancer. Studies show that being overweight or obese increases risk of colon cancer, and people whose diets include a high amount of red and processed meats are at increased risk. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on five or more days of the week; and consume a healthy diet that includes five or more servings of vegetables and fruits each day, whole grains (instead of processed grains and sugars), limited alcohol and processed and red meats, and control led port ion sizes. Smoking also increases risk of colon cancer. A 2009 study from the American Cancer Society found that long-term smoking (smoking for 40 or more years) increases colon cancer risk by 30 to 50 percent

. The Society has proven smoking cessation programs – Freshstart® and the Quit For Life® Program operated by Free & Clear®.

Thanks to improvements in prevention, early detection, and treatment, more than a million people in the U.S. count themselves as survivors of colon cancer. Whether you’re worried about developing colon cancer, making decisions about your treatment, or trying to stay well after treatment, the American Cancer Society can help.

Visit cancer.org or call 1.800.227.2345 for details.

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