Posts tagged with "health"

Tips for Self-Managing Your Health

A chronic illness is one that is ongoing versus an acute illness which doesn’t last very long, typically less than 12 weeks. An example of a chronic illness is diabetes or asthma whereas pneumonia would be an example of an acute illness. Acute illnesses may lead to a chronic condition if left untreated1.

Whether your condition is chronic or acute, it is important that you take care of your body to prevent further illness or complications. Self-management means that you are taking responsibility for your health such as taking your medications as prescribed, monitoring your vital signs such as weight or blood pressure, and making good lifestyle choices like being active and eating a healthy diet. According to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care, individuals who do not feel capable of managing their own health are more likely to develop a new chronic disease over a 3-year period when compared to individuals with good self-management skills2.

Your health care provider may make recommendations to help improve or maintain your condition. It’s up to you to follow them when in between your provider visits. Below are a few steps you can take to manage your condition3:

  • Be active- get at least 30 min of physical activity each day.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet: make sure to get the colors of the rainbow, lean proteins and whole grains.
  • Take your medications as prescribed- this includes over-the counter and prescription medications as recommended by your provider.
  • Keep all scheduled provider appointments and new appointments for worsening symptoms.
  • Complete your preventive screenings, exams and immunizations as recommended.
  • Know your condition triggers- avoid activities, environments, or foods that can make you feel worse.
  • Self-monitor your vital signs and blood values- if you are a diabetic or prediabetic it may be important for you to check your glucose in between visits with your provider. It is also important to keep track of your blood pressure, heart rate, and weight at least once a week.

Remember to take control of your health and don’t let your condition take control of you!

Content contributor: Jennifer Martin, USPM Director of Health Services

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/18126.htm
  2. https://www.ajmc.com/newsroom/identifying-patients-health-self-management-skills
  3. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/10-steps-for-coping-with-a-chronic-condition
Step It Up This October With Walking

Step It Up This October With Walking

Walking is a great way to increase your physical activity and improve your health. It’s an easy way to start and maintain a physically active lifestyle. It’s the most common physical activity for people across the U.S. Walking provides many opportunities to incorporate physical activity into your busy life – whether it’s for work, school, leisure, or to improve your health.

Physical activity such as walking can help control weight and improve health even without weight loss. People who are physically active live longer and have a lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers.1 

We Need More Physical Activity1

  • Adults need at least 2 and 1/2 hours (150 minutes) of aerobic physical activity per week . This should be at a moderate level, such as fast-paced walk for no less than 10 minutes at a time. Aerobic physical activity makes you breathe harder and makes your heart and blood vessels healthier. Examples include brisk walking, running, swimming, and other activities.
  • According to the CDC, less than half of all adults get the recommended amount of physical activity.
  • Women and older adults are not as likely to get the recommended level of weekly physical activity.
  • Inactive adults have higher risk for early death, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers.
  • Walking routes in and near neighborhoods encourage people to walk to stops for buses, trains, and trolleys.

Should You See a Doctor First? 

  • Most people do not need to see a doctor before they start a walking program.
  • However, you should check with your doctor if you have a chronic health problem such as a heart condition, diabetes, or high blood pressure, are over 40 years old and have been inactive.
  • You should also talk to your doctor if while walking, you get dizzy, feel faint or short of breath; or have chest, neck, shoulder or arm pain.2 

How to Start Walking More

1. Set realistic goals and how you plan to achieve them. Set realistic goals such as walking 10 to 15 minutes three times a week.
  • Create an action plan for how far and how often you will walk.
  • Where would you like to be in 6 months to a year in your walking program?
  • Plan where you will walk, what days of the week you will walk.
  • Identify a walking buddy or support person.
2. Be prepared.
  • Make sure you have everything you need to get started such as shoes that fit right and have good arch support; a firm, well-cushioned heel; and nonskid, flexible soles.
  • Ensure you have clothes that keep you dry and comfortable, a hat or visor for the sun, sunscreen, and sunglasses; a hat and scarf to cover your head and ears when it’s cold outside, and layers of clothing in cold weather that you can remove as you warm up.
3. Get moving.
  • Divide your walk into three parts: warm up by walking slowly; increase your speed to a brisk walk; and cool down by slowing your pace.
  • When walking be sure to use proper form: keep your chin up and your shoulders slightly back and relaxed.
  • Look forward, not at the ground.
  • Keep your back straight, rather than arched forward or backward.
  • Let the heel of your foot touch the ground first, and then roll your weight forward.
  • Walk with your toes pointed forward.
  • Swing your arms naturally.
4. Add on.
  • As walking gets easier, start to go faster and farther. Add hills or stairs to make your walks more challenging.
  • If you are walking less than three times per week, give yourself more than 2 weeks before adding time to your walk.

How To Make Walking a Healthy Habit

  • Don’t give up. Stick with your walking program.
  • Walk in places you enjoy, like a park or shopping center. To stay motivated, try different routes to keep it interesting.
  • Listen to your favorite music as you walk, remembering to keep the volume low so you can hear sounds around you.
  • Bring a friend or a family member. Having a regular walking buddy or support person may help you keep going. You can cheer each other on and serve as role models for friends, family members, coworkers, and your community.
  • Have a “Plan B” for when bad weather or other roadblocks get in the way. Be ready to walk indoors rather than outdoors.
  • Track your progress on paper, online, with a fitness app, fitness tracker or a pedometer. Record dates, distance, and how you felt when you were done.
  • Reward yourself with something pleasant after you walk, like a relaxing shower or a 30 minutes of time to yourself.
  • Be prepared for setbacks. If certain obstacles prevent you from walking, get back to your routine as soon as you can.

With time, walking can become part of your daily life and may even make it easier to try other types of physical activity.

20 Ways to Add More Steps

  1. Find a buddy who can take walks with you.
  2. Walk your dog in the morning for 15 minutes and in the evening for 10 minutes.
  3. March in place while brushing your teeth.
  4. Exercise indoor with a workout DVD.
  5. Play hide and seek with your kids.
  6. Have a dance party with your kids.
  7. Walk your kids to school or the school bus.
  8. Walk while chatting on the phone.
  9. Make it a nightly habit to go for an after-dinner stroll with the family.
  10. If you’re going to the mailbox, take a tour around the house first or a lap around your block.
  11. During commercials, don’t fast forward your DVR – stand up and march in place or pick things up around the house.
  12. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  13. Park far from the office.
  14. Get off the bus/train one stop before or after your regular stop to take extra steps.
  15. Walk to a coworker’s office instead of calling or emailing them.
  16. Use the restroom that is one floor up (or down) at work instead of heading for the one closest to your office.
  17. Use the water or coffee machine one floor up (or down) at work instead of heading for the one closest to your office.
  18. Set reminders on your phone or calendar to take a walking break.
  19. Take afternoon “brainstorming” walks.
  20. Pick up your lunch instead of ordering takeout.

References:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/walking/index.html
  2. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/walking-step-right-direction
Impact of Alcohol on Health

Impact of Alcohol on Health

We know nutrition and exercise are ways to improve our health, but it’s also important to discuss alcohol consumption and the impact of excessive alcohol use on our health. Drinking excessively is harmful, but it can be controlled and prevented. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use leads to about 88,000 deaths in the U.S. each year and shortens the life of those who die by almost 30 years.1

What’s considered a ‘drink’?

  • 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol by volume)
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol by volume)
  • 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol by volume)
  • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits such as vodka, whiskey, gin, etc. (40% alcohol by volume)

Do you know the signs of excessive alcohol use?

Signs of excessive alcohol useSource: CDC1

Binge drinking is the most common, costly, and deadly pattern of excessive alcohol use in the U.S. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks or women consume 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours. Most people who binge drink are not alcohol dependent.2

Who binge drinks?

  • One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, consuming about eight drinks per binge.
  • Binge drinking is most common among younger adults aged 18–34 years old.
  • The prevalence of binge drinking among men is twice the prevalence among women.2

The Cost of Excessive Alcohol Use

Excessive drinking cost the American economy $249 billion in 2010:

  • Workplace productivity: $179 billion (72%)
  • Healthcare: $28 billion (11%)
  • Criminal Justice: $25 billion (10%)
  • Collisions: $13 billion (5%)3

Binge drinkers account for most of the cost at $191 billion (77% of the total cost). For more details, visit the CDC.

Short-Term Health Risks

Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These are most often the result of binge drinking and include the following:

  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns.
  • Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.
  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.
  • Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women.4

Long-Term Health Risks

Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including:

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
  • Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment.
  • Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism.4

By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks.

Life-Threatening Signs of Alcohol Poisoning Include:

  • Inability to wake up
  • Vomiting
  • Slow breathing (fewer than 8 breaths per minute)
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more between breaths)
  • Seizures
  • Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness5

Alcohol Poisoning Deaths

According to the CDC, most people who die of alcohol poisoning are non-Hispanic whites (68%). Additionally, 76% of deaths are men and 24% are women. Alcohol poisoning deaths vary by state and are most common among middle aged adults.5

Alcohol poisonings by state

Image Source: CDC5

What is Moderate Drinking?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. In addition, the Dietary Guidelines do not recommend that individuals who do not drink alcohol start drinking for any reason.

However, there are some people who should not drink any alcohol, including those who are:

  • Younger than age 21.
  • Pregnant or may be pregnant.
  • Driving, planning to drive, or participating in other activities requiring skill, coordination, and alertness.
  • Taking certain prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol.
  • Suffering from certain medical conditions.
  • Recovering from alcoholism or are unable to control the amount they drink.

By adhering to the Dietary Guidelines, you can reduce the risk of harm to yourself or others.

Alcohol Use Disorders

Alcohol use disorder is when your drinking causes serious problems in your life, yet you keep drinking. You may also need more and more alcohol to feel drunk. Stopping suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms.

You may have an alcohol use disorder if you:

  • Have little or no control over the amount you drink, when you drink, or how often you drink.
  • Tried to limit or stop your drinking but found you could not.
  • Had withdrawal symptoms when you tried to stop drinking. (These symptoms include tremors, anxiety, irritability, racing heart, nausea, sweating, trouble sleeping, and seizures.)
  • Have put yourself in a dangerous situation (such as driving, swimming, and unsafe sex) on one or more occasions while drinking.
  • Have become tolerant to the effects of drinking and require more alcohol to become intoxicated.
  • Have continued to drink despite having memory blackouts after drinking or having frequent hangovers that cause you to miss work and other normal activities.
  • Have continued to drink despite having a medical condition that you know is worsened by alcohol consumption.
  • Have continued to drink despite knowing it is causing problems at home, school, or work.
  • Start your drinking early in the day.6

Screening Tests

There are many screening tests that doctors use to check for alcohol use disorders. Some of these tests you can take on your own. The CAGE test is an acronym for the following questions. It asks:

  • Have you ever felt you should CUT (C) down on your drinking?
  • Have people ANNOYED (A) you by criticizing your drinking?
  • Have you ever felt bad or GUILTY (G) about your drinking?
  • Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning, to steady your nerves, or to get rid of a hangover (use of alcohol as an EYE-OPENER [E] in the morning)?
  • If you responded “yes” to at least two of these questions, you may be at risk for alcoholism.6

Screening in the Doctor’s Office

Primary care doctors should screen adults for alcohol misuse, according to guidelines from the U.S Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Health care providers can give people identified at risk brief behavioral counseling interventions to help them address their drinking.

Medications for Alcohol Use Disorders

Oral naltrexone (ReVia, generic) and acamprosate (Campral, generic) are effective medications for treating alcohol use disorders, according to a 2014 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Alcoholism Resources

The following organizations are good resources for information on alcoholism:


References

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/pdfs/alcoholyourhealth.pdf
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/onlinemedia/infographics/cost-excessive-alcohol-use.html
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/alcohol-use.htm
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/alcohol-poisoning-deaths/infographic.html#infographic
  6. A.D.A.M., Inc.
Get motivated to start or amp up your physical activity

Create an Active Lifestyle for More Good Years

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month to raise awareness of the importance of active living. Physical activity is for everyone. No matter what shape you are in, you can find activities that work for you. Together, we can rise to the challenge and become more active during the month of May and beyond! Some activity is better than none. The more you do, the greater the health benefits and the better you’ll feel.

The physical activity guidelines recommend that adults:

  • Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Moderate activity includes things like walking fast, dancing, or swimming.
  • Do muscle strengthening activities like lifting weights or using exercise bands at least 2 days a week.

If you haven’t been active before, start at a comfortable level. Once you get the hang of it, add a little more activity each time. Then try getting active more often.

What kinds of activity should I do?

To get all the health benefits of physical activity, do a combination of aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.

  • Aerobic activities make you breathe harder and cause your heart to beat faster. Walking fast is an example of aerobic activity.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities make your muscles stronger. Muscle-strengthening activities include lifting weights, using resistance bands, and doing push-ups.

Did you know?

When you are not physically active, you are more likely to:

  • Get heart disease
  • Get type 2 diabetes
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have high blood cholesterol
  • Have a stroke

Build up over time

Start by doing what you can, and then look for ways to do more. If you have not been active for a while, start out slowly. After several weeks or months, build up your activities—do them longer and more often.

Walking is one way to add physical activity to your life. When you first start, walk 10 minutes a day on a few days during the first couple of weeks. Add more time and days. Walk a little longer. Try 15 minutes instead of 10 minutes. Then walk on more days a week.

Pick up the pace. Once this is easy to do, try walking faster. Keep up your brisk walking for a couple of months. You might want to add biking on the weekends for variety.

Do it your way

Pick an activity you like and one that fits into your life.

  • Find the time that works best for you.
  • Be active with friends and family. Having a support network can help you keep up with your program.
  • There are many ways to build the right amount of activity into your life. Every little bit adds up and doing something is better than doing nothing.

Make physical activity a part of your life

Physical activity experts say that spreading aerobic activity out over at least 3 days a week is best. Also, do each activity for at least 10 minutes at a time. There are many ways to fit in 2 hours and 30 minutes a week. For example, you can do 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day, for 5 days.

On the other 2 days, do activities to keep your muscles strong. Find ways that work well for you. Talk to your health care provider about good activities to try.

Keep it up, step it up

  • To get more health benefits, add more time of aerobic physical activity.
  • Try to move from 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-level activities a week to 5 hours or more a week.

To learn more, visit www.healthfinder.gov and type “activity” in the search box.

My Drive to Exercise WorksheetFREE Worksheet

Download a FREE My Drive to Exercise Worksheet to help get you going to exercise. Identify the benefits you hope to achieve from active living as well as any potential roadblocks.

 


References:

  1. https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/health-conditions-and-diseases/diabetes/get-active
  2. https://health.gov/PAGuidelines/pdf/adultguide.pdf?_ga=1.180799588.236832206.1486744829
Does a Laugh Per Day Keep the Doctor Away?

Does a Laugh Per Day Keep the Doctor Away?

The average adult laughs 17 times a day while a child laughs 300 times a day.1 There is a reason why we have always heard that laughter is the best medicine. Both humor and laughter can be effective self-care tools to help us cope with stress, especially in the workplace. Finding humor and laughter in stressful situations can give us a sense of perspective on our problems. And it’s good for our health.

“Studies from around the world have shown that an atmosphere of humor results in better patient cure, less anesthesia time, less operating time, and shorter hospital stays.”1

Here are just a few health benefits related to laughing.

  • Improves your mood – can lessen depression, anxiety and help you relax.
  • Improves your immune system – positive thoughts from laughter release neuropeptides that help fight stress and potentially more-serious illnesses. Laughter boosts the number of antibody-producing cells, which leads to a stronger immune system.2
  • Activates multiple organs – stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles.

“Laughter causes the release of beta-endorphins in the hypothalamus, which leads to the release of nitric oxide, which dilates the vessels. And there’s more. Nitric oxide is a chemical that also protects the heart by reducing inflammation and preventing the formation of cholesterol plaque.”2

Laughing is much more than an emotional response to something funny, it also evokes a physical response. Laughing exercises several muscles in the body, including your abdomen, back, shoulders, and facial muscles. Also, laughter is a great workout for your respiratory system! Much like physical activity, such as running, which increases the endorphins that are released by your brain, laughter has the same effect on your body.

So in addition to healthy eating and exercise, add some time for laughter throughout your day to improve your health.

Make Time for Humor Daily

  • Catch up on your favorite TV comedy show
  • Practice laughing for 5 minutes
  • Play with children or pets
  • Host game night with friends
  • Find humor in a stressful situation
  • Share a good joke or a funny story
  • Go to a “laughter yoga” class
  • Listen to a comedy show while working out
  • Spend time with people who make you laugh

References

  1. http://www2.ca.uky.edu/hes/fcs/factshts/hsw-caw-807.pdf
  2. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2013/02/want-a-healthy-heart-laugh-more/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2762283/
  4. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/video/laugh-therapy

 

 

6 Preventive Tips to Help Lower Cancer Risk

6 Preventive Tips to Help Lower Cancer Risk

Did you know that 96% of all Medicare spending is spent on chronic conditions that have lifestyle health risk factors?1 You have more control over your health than you realize! Here are a few tips to help lower your risk of most cancers and chronic conditions. Practice these habits to build lasting changes for your health and wellbeing journey.

1. Know Your Numbers

Excess body fat has been shown to increase the risk of the following cancers: colorectal, esophageal, kidney, breast (in postmenopausal women), uterine, stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, ovarian thyroid, meningioma and multiple myeloma. Also, there have been suggested links to prostate cancer, breast cancer in men and non-Hodgkin lymphoma with excess weight.

Extra fat around your belly may increase health risks more so than having extra fat around your hips and thighs. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight can help lower health risks, including cancers.

A BMI (body mass index) of 18.5 to 24.9 and a waist circumference of less than 40” for men and less than 35” for women will help lower your health risks. Calculate your BMI on the CDC website.

2. Eat Healthy and Exercise

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight requires both physical activity and a healthy eating plan. Any extra physical activity and healthier food choices can make a difference in improving overall health! Always check with your physician first to confirm that a new exercise or activity will be safe for you.

Avoid packaged, processed and fast foods. If it comes in a package, look for whole food options. Examples include steel cut oats instead of packaged quick oats or homemade soup and salad for lunch. Eliminate the boxed macaroni and cheese and roast a variety of vegetables in the oven instead. For dessert try making a recipe from scratch rather than from a box or better yet choose fresh fruit instead of packaged treats.

3. Sleep Well

Insufficient sleep is linked to an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes and obesity. The light emitted from electronic devices tends to wake up the brain and decrease melatonin production. Our bodies have a great capacity to continually heal and repair cellular damage and most of this occurs at night while we are sleeping.

Turn off all electronics 15 minutes earlier each night. Try reading a book rather than watching TV. Practice meditation, prayer, deep breathing or gentle stretching or yoga to help reduce stress and increase relaxation. Go to bed at the same time each night and rise at the same time each morning, aiming for a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night.

4. Cut Down or Reduce Alcohol

Alcohol affects every organ in the body. The risk of cancers, along with other health problems can increase with the amount of alcohol consumed. Along with disrupting sleep, alcohol can result in weight gain, elevate blood glucose and increase triglyceride levels in the body. For most women, no more than one drink per day and for most men, no more than two drinks per day is recommended.3

Rather than meeting a friend for a drink, skip the alcohol and go for a walk together. If you typically have two glasses of wine with dinner, have only one. If you decide to have more than one alcoholic beverage at a sitting, sip on a full glass of water in between. Instead of alcohol, choose unflavored sparkling/seltzer water, add fresh berries or fruit slices and serve it in your favorite crystal or stem ware. And if alcohol helps you to unwind before bed, try replacing it with gentle stretching or yoga, listen to relaxing music, and enjoy a soothing cup of decaf chai tea.

5. Avoid Tobacco

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, and cigarette smoking causes almost all cases. “Compared to nonsmokers, current smokers are about 25 times more likely to die from lung cancer. Smoking causes about 80% to 90% of lung cancer deaths. Smoking also causes cancer of the mouth and throat, esophagus, stomach, colon, rectum, liver, pancreas, voicebox (larynx), trachea, bronchus, kidney and renal pelvis, urinary bladder, and cervix, and causes acute myeloid leukemia.”4 

Visit smokefree.gov to learn how you can quit smoking.

6. Eliminate or Reduce Chemicals

Pesticides, industrial pollutants, cleaning supplies, cosmetics, and medications all contain chemical substances that can increase our risk of cancers and other health problems. The synthetic chemicals within these products can disrupt the normal functioning of our endocrine system resulting in reproductive and immune problems, obesity and increased inflammation throughout the body. Try to minimize or eliminate chemical products in your environment.

Use the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 produce lists when shopping for fruits and vegetables. 

  • Check the labels on your cosmetics, shampoos, and lotions for parabens, a chemical preservative commonly used in personal care products, that mimics the hormone estrogen and can result in a much stronger effect and more aggressive growth of some cancer cells.
  • Check out EWG’s Skin Deep website or download the app to find safer options for your favorite products.
  • Switch out plastic food storage containers for glass. And stop microwaving food in plastic. Pickle and spaghetti sauce jars work great for food storage, without any additional cost.
  • Break a sweat! Sweating through exercise or sitting in a dry sauna are great ways to remove toxins from the body. Always check with your physician first to confirm that a new exercise or activity is safe for you try.

References

1. Partnership for Solutions, Chronic Conditions: Making the Case for Ongoing Care (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2004).

2. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/867919?nlid=109048_2981&src=wnl_dne_160826_mscpedit&uac=259999BR&impID=1185765&faf=1

3. http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/basic_info/prevention.htm

4. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/prevention/other.htm

Effects of Smoking on Your Health & Free Resources to Help You Quit

Effects of Smoking on Your Health & Free Resources to Help You Quit

Smoking is a leading cause of cancer and the leading preventable cause of death in the United States. Since the first Surgeon General’s report in 1964 more than 20 million premature deaths can be attributed to cigarette smoking. Research continues to identify diseases caused by smoking, including such common diseases as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and colorectal cancer. Additionally, exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke has been causally linked to cancer, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases, and to adverse effects on the health of infants and children.**

CDC Risks from Smoking

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/infographics/health-effects/index.htm#smoking-risks

Smoking can cause cancer and block your body from fighting it:

  • Poisons in cigarette smoke can weaken the body’s immune system, making it harder to kill cancer cells. When this happens, cancer cells keep growing without being stopped.
  • Poisons in tobacco smoke can damage or change a cell’s DNA. DNA is the cell’s “instruction manual” that controls cell growth and function. When DNA is damaged, a cell can begin growing out of control and create a cancer tumor.*

Doctors have known for years that smoking causes most lung cancers. It’s still true today, when nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancers are caused by smoking cigarettes. Smokers have a greater risk for lung cancer today than they did in 1964, even though they smoke fewer cigarettes. One reason may be changes in how cigarettes are made and the chemicals they contain. Although cigarette smoking has declined significantly since 1964, very large disparities in tobacco use remain across groups defined by race, ethnicity, educational level, and socioeconomic status and across regions of the country.

Treatments are getting better for lung cancer, but it still kills more men and women than any other type of cancer. In the United States, more than 7,300 nonsmokers die each year from lung cancer caused by secondhand smoke – combination of smoke from the burning end of a cigarette and the smoke breathed out by smokers.

Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body including: blood, bladder, cervix, colon and rectum, esophagus, kidney and renal pelvis, larynx, liver, lungs, mouth and throat, pancreas, stomach, trachea, lung, and bronchus. Men with prostate cancer who smoke may be more likely to die from these diseases than nonsmokers. Smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco, also causes cancer, including cancers of the esophagus, mouth and throat, and pancreas.*

How Can Smoking-Related Cancers Be Prevented?*

Quitting smoking lowers the risks for cancers of the lung, mouth, throat, esophagus, and larynx. Within 5 years of quitting, your chance of getting cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half. 

Ten years after you quit smoking, your risk of dying from lung cancer drops by half. If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths in the United States would not happen.

Quitting smoking improves the outlook (the prognosis) for people with cancer. People who continue to smoke after diagnosis raise their risk for future cancers and death. They are more likely to die from cancer than nonsmokers and are more likely to develop a second (new) tobacco-related cancer.

Help With Quitting Smoking 

For support in quitting, including free coaching, a free quit plan, free educational materials, and referrals to local resources, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). There are also free online resources at https://www.smokefree.gov.


References:

(*) https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/health_effects/cancer/index.htm

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/tobacco/cessation-fact-sheet

https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/data_statistics/fact_sheets/health_effects/effects_cig_smoking/

(**) https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/reports/50-years-of-progress/exec-summary.pdf

Financial Fitness: Essential to Your Employees’ Wellbeing

Financial Fitness: Essential to Your Employees’ Wellbeing

About half of Americans believe they are unprepared for a sudden financial need such as the purchase of a new car, appliance or furniture or a significant home repair, according to Gallup Daily tracking survey through 2015.1

So how can we get financially fit? How do we find balance between spending and saving – between living in the present and saving for life’s unexpected financial needs? And why is this important?

First let’s define financial wellbeing – it is defined as a state of being wherein you:2

  • Have control over day-to-day, month-to-month finances;
  • Have the capacity to absorb a financial shock;
  • Are on track to meet your financial goals; and
  • Have the financial freedom to make the choices that allow you to enjoy life.

Organizations that don’t implement financial wellbeing into their wellness programs are missing the  mark. In a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, money is a somewhat or significant source of stress for 64% of Americans but especially for parents of children below the age of 18 and younger adults (77% of parents, 75% of millennials, ages 18 to 35, and 76% of Gen Xers, ages 36 to 49).3

The added financial stress has a significant impact on many Americans’ lives.

“Some are putting their health care needs on hold because of financial concerns. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans say that they have either considered skipping (9 percent) or skipped (12 percent) going to a doctor when they needed health care because of financial concerns.”3

Many adults are coping with health and lifestyle challenges and are beginning to recognize the connection between stress and physical and mental health.

  • Money and work remain the top two sources of very/somewhat significant stress, but in 2015, for the first time, family responsibilities emerged as the third most common stressor (54 percent).
  • The majority of adults report having at least one chronic illness (67 percent). In addition, many adults lack exercise and remain sedentary for much of the day. More than 10 percent of adults also report having a mental health-related diagnosis (13 percent for anxiety disorder and 16 percent for depression).
  • About two in five adults (39 percent) report overeating or eating unhealthy foods in the past month due to stress, compared to 33 percent in 2014.
  • Adults in urban areas have a significantly higher reported stress level on average than those in suburban and rural settings (urban: 5.6 on a 10-point scale, vs. 5.0 for suburban and 4.7 for rural).
  • Almost one-third of adults report that stress has a very strong or strong impact on their body/physical health and mental health (31 and 32 percent in 2015, compared to 25 and 28 percent in 2014, respectively).4

To help employees improve their financial fitness, organizations should provide financial education, programs, and other content into their wellness programs.

Here are 6 ways employees can improve their financial wellbeing:

  1. Make a simple plan to monitor and track your spending habits and to gain control over your financial decision making.
  2. Have a budget and stick to it. Set short-term and long-term goals to provide structure for your financial decision making. For example, set a spending budget for the holidays. More stuff doesn’t mean less stress.
  3. Spend some time researching before making major financial decisions to ensure you make the most-informed financial decisions.
  4. Get smart about money – Use free educational resources available at http://www.consumerfinance.gov.
  5. Don’t compare yourself to others. Compare yourself to your own standards. Don’t purchase things to keep up with the Joneses. Instead think about long-term impacts of every purchase.
  6. Avoid impulse shopping. Keep your spending under control by stopping to think about whether you need that purchase or postpone the purchase to a later date if you can.

References

  1. Gallup, Inc. “Half of Americans Unprepared for Sudden Financial Need.” http://www.gallup.com/poll/188009/half-americans-unprepared-sudden-financial-need.aspx?g_source=FINANCIAL_WELLBEING&g_medium=topic&g_campaign=tiles
  2. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “Financial well-being: The goal of financial education.” January 2015: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201501_cfpb_report_financial-well-being.pdf
  3. American Psychological Association. “Money Stress Weighs on Americans’ Health” 2015, Vol. 46, No.4 http://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/04/money-stress.aspx
  4. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2015/highlights.aspx

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