Prevention is, and will always be, a core tenet when it comes to maximizing the health and wellbeing of ourselves and family members. Some efforts will be daily ones (like eating those fruits and veggies); others annually or even less frequent. Today, we bring you 5 things you can plan today for a healthier tomorrow!
1. Get your screenings when recommended.
For many of us, annual physicals and screenings are just something we do. Like clockwork. That is, until COVID-19 changed day-to-day life as we know it, making us rethink even routine tasks like going for a medical checkup or shopping for food. While much of our country is starting to get back to normal, some apprehension or even a feeling of being overwhelmed is understandable as you try to get back in the swing of things and catch up on the things that need to be done outside your house.
While it may be tempting to kick ourselves for not doing our screenings on time, that’s irrelevant. A better use of energy is to log on or pick up the phone and make your appointment now! For cancer prevention:
- Men and women should have a baseline colonoscopy at age 45. Your physician will recommend when to repeat the colonoscopy based on that initial test.
- Women should be screened for HPV beginning at age 25 and repeat every 5 years (3 years if screening is done by pap alone). Women 40 years and older should talk to their doctor about the best mammogram schedule based on their health history and risk. Regular mammograms should begin no later than 50.
- Men should receive their first PSA exam to detect prostate cancer at age 55. Based on family history, it may be recommended to have this test as early as 40 years of age.
Speaking of family history. Are you concerned that you may be at higher risk for cancer based on your genes? Consider genetic testing. A simple blood test can detect gene variants that may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer. VCS offers genetic testing at all of our offices – find the one nearest to you.
2. Wear sunscreen.
Did you know that 1 in 5 people will develop skin cancer by the time they are 70? In fact, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the US. A little prevention goes a long way with skin cancer. Wear your sunscreen, year-round, wear bathing suits and other protective clothing that have a ultraviolet protection factor (UPF), and use shade to your advantage (think hats, umbrellas, curtains).
3. Be physically active.
Take advantage of spring and summer to ramp up your physical activity! Make sure you get your heart rate up and break a sweat at least once per day. Beat boredom by mixing up different activities like walking, swimming, biking, hiking, gardening, yoga, sports – whatever you like best! Just remember, if you are getting outside for your physical activity, make sure you apply sunscreen that is water-resistant.
4. Rethink your grilling habits.
Some people look forward to summer grilling season all year long. While there are aspects of grilling that can increase the production of carcinogens, you don’t have to cut it out altogether to avoid upping your risk. The key is that the carcinogens are created as a reaction between meat and the hot grill. Research shows that the following can decrease carcinogen creation in meats: marinating before cooking; partially cooking inside and finishing up briefly on the grill; and keeping the grill clean of drippings. Also, grilled veggies do not generate carcinogens, so eat up!
5. Follow the basics of healthy eating – most of the time.
Let’s face it. We know what we should be doing, but oftentimes it’s the doing that’s an issue. Try the 80-20 rule. Unlike going on a “diet” this approach does not assume perfection. Just strive to do the things you know you should do to feel your best (eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, fiber-rich grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy; cutting down on sugary drinks and snacks) about 80% of the time and splurge on indulgencies [insert your favorite vice here] 20% of the time or less.