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Top Tips for Your Health & Wellness

These tips for feeling and being your best can help you maintain your health for another year.

What You Need to Know About Colorectal Cancer

Courtesy of American Cancer Society

Following the devastating news of the death of the world’s beloved Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman, from colorectal cancer, many were left asking why – and how. What most don’t know is that Boseman sat at the intersection of where colorectal cancer rates are among the highest and rising the fastest. He was a young man. And he was a Black man.

Among the highest rates of colorectal cancer of any ethnic group in the U.S., African Americans are 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and 40% more likely to die from it. Black men have the highest incidence rate.

In addition, rates of colorectal cancer in younger age groups is rising. In 2020, 12% of cases will be diagnosed in people under 50 – about 18,000 cases. Since the mid-1980s, adults age 20-39 have experienced the steepest increase in colorectal cancer rates.

The American Cancer Society recommends those with average risk begin regular screening at age 45. Those with higher risk should consider – with their physician – earlier screening. Higher risk factors include:

• Family or personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
• Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
• 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)
• Personal history of radiation to the abdomen or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer

Anyone with concerning gastro-intestinal symptoms, such as a change in bowel habits that lasts for more than a few days, rectal bleeding, blood in the stool, cramping or abdominal pain, weakness and fatigue, or unintended weight loss, should consult with their doctor.

Screening can prevent colorectal cancer by finding and removing growth, called polyps, in the colon and rectum before they become cancer. It can also find colorectal cancer early, when it’s small, hasn’t spread and may be easier to treat. When found early, the five-year relative survival rate is 90%.

5 Tips for Staying Active in the Heat

Courtesy of Healthy West Orange

For those who like to get outdoors, stretch their legs and burn some calories, the Florida heat can be a serious challenge. We’ve got some rules of the road to help you create an exercise routine that will keep you safe, motivated and cool as a cucumber.

1. Pick the Right Time of Day: Unless you’re conditioning for an event that takes place in the daytime heat, avoid exercising from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. – the hottest part of day. Exercise outside in the early morning to avoid the heat and the harmful rays of the sun while crushing your workout. If you’re getting a move on at night, wear bright clothing, move with/against traffic (depending on the exercise) and wear reflectors or lights on your hat, torso or ankles.

2. Stay Hydrated: Before you go out, drink a glass or two of water. Bring a water bottle with you, or even a hydration pack, and take a drink every 15 minutes – even when you’re not thirsty. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated! When you’re done with your workout, cool down with a few more glasses of water.

3. Dress for the Occasion: Wear breathable, light-colored clothing. It helps reflect heat, increase your visibility to motorists, and moisture-wicking material helps with sweat. Don’t forget to protect your melon, too! Wear a hat to protect your head, face and neck from the sun or a bike helmet with a sun visor if you’re putting the pedal to the metal.

4. Stay in the Shade: If you can, choose shaded trails or pathways to stay out of the sun. The West Orange Trail is a great spot to walk, run and ride bikes under shady trees.

5. Listen to Your Body: If you’re feeling dizzy, nauseous or faint, stop immediately. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are real dangers and can happen to anyone.

COVID-19: Increasing Screen Times in our Pediatric Population

By Mark Ossi, OD, Community Health Centers, Inc.

Today’s kids are growing up in an evolving world that revolves around computers. Add the current pandemic, and it’s no surprise surveys reveal that screen time, as reported by parents, has gone up 5-fold between pre-pandemic and now.

So, what’s the big deal?

When we look at something up-close, the eye muscles contract to bring that object into focus. This “focusing power” is called accommodation. The issue of eyestrain arises when that accommodation system is put under continual stress associated with extended screen time.

With time, the eye muscles fatigue and lose their ability to function optimally, leading to headaches, blurry vision and sore eyes. In children, these complaints can easily be overlooked, especially when a basic visual acuity exam determines the child is 20/20 and the provider doesn’t do additional supplementary testing. Under these circumstances, a child could benefit from a pair of prescription reading glasses.

The blue light emitted by screens plays a significant role in sleep. It suppresses the release of melatonin, a hormone that orchestrates the circadian rhythm. In the pediatric population, sleep is especially crucial given the role it plays in the development of the child cognitively and physically.

There are several methods to combat the potential sleep disruption of blue light. The most obvious is limiting screen time before bed, preferably discontinuing use at least two hours before bedtime. A second method is incorporating “blue-blocking” lenses in glasses. They filter the amount of blue light that is transmitted through the lenses of the glasses, reducing exposure and sleep disruption. Another alternative is installing apps on your child’s electronic device that act as a blue-blocking filter.

Lastly, the increasing role of electronics in children’s lives is increasing the prevalence of dry eyes. Studies have shown electronic use decreases the amount of blinking we do. Because the blinking mechanism is connected to our tear film, reduced blinking causes tear film instability and dry eyes. This leads to a cascade of events that promote inflammation on the surface of the eyes, manifesting in a variety of symptoms such as burning, itching, redness, tearing and fluctuating vision.

Whether we like it or not, electronics have become a big part of our children’s lives. If your child complains of any of the symptoms discussed, or you notice a decline in school performance when transitioning to electronic learning, consider seeing an eye doctor for further testing that may help alleviate possible eyestrain linked to prolong screen time.

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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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