Health Briefs: Colon Cancer

January 20, 2008

Men Still Reluctant to Get Tested for Colon Cancer

Men Still Reluctant to Get Tested for Colon Cancer

Even when it’s free, men are still less likely to have a colon cancer screening test that could ultimately prove life-saving. That’s the finding of a Swedish research study whose results were reported in the International Journal of Cancer.

Researchers offered free sigmoidoscopy screening tests to nearly 2,000 adults between the ages of 59 to 61 [Sigmoidoscopy is one of several screening tests that help detect the presence of colon cancer and pre-cancerous polyps]. Routine screening for colon cancer is generally recommended for adults starting at age 50, and sooner for people considered at higher risk for the disease. Men were nearly 30% more likely than women to decline the test. Differences were also found between single and married adults; unmarried or divorced men and women were much less likely to be tested compared to married adults. The results of the Swedish study were consistent with other research that also found men to be more reluctant than women to have health screening tests; men tend to be less knowledgeable about health and less likely to take preventive measures like screening tests.

Exercise May be the True ‘Fountain of Youth’

Aging ungracefully can mean wrinkles, weak bones and muscles, and a losing struggle to keep off unwanted extra weight.

According to Dr. Pravee Sirithientas, sports medicine specialist at Vitallife Wellness Center, aging results from a decline in the body’s production of human growth hormone-the naturally-occurring substance that promotes healthy cell growth. The hormone promotes smoother skin, fights body fat, and helps build muscle mass. However, the jury is still out on growth hormone therapy due to potential side effects and high cost.

Exercise may be the best choice to safely slow the aging process. And even moderate exercise like walking or gardening for 30 minutes can deliver impressive health benefits. Adding vitamins and nutrition supplements can further stimulate the production of human growth hormone, providing an additional boost to an anti-aging regimen.

Exercise is also a great way to enhance brain function well into old age. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise or vitamin program.

Battle of the Bulge: Number of Fat Cells may be Set Early in Life

As the old saying goes, “The only thing harder than losing weight is keeping it off.” A new study on fat cells may help explain why that sentiment rings true. Scientists in Sweden studying how the number of fat cells change over time reported that the number is set during adolescence and then remains unchanged throughout adult life even after drastic weight loss.

At the beginning of the study, researchers measured the number of fat cells in groups of children, adolescents and adults. They found that fat cell numbers increased throughout childhood and adolescence, but by the beginning of adulthood, the number reached its peak and remained constant.

The next phase of the study measured the number of fat cells in people before and after undergoing major weight loss through a procedure called gastric banding. While the procedure can lead to weight loss in excess of 100 kilos, the study showed the number of fat cells hardly changed.

The findings, first reported in the journal Nature, aren’t good news for people struggling to lose unhealthy excess weight; rather, they further reinforce the importance of developing and sticking to healthy diet and exercise habits beginning early in life..
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