Across the US this month, colorectal cancer and kidney disease are the subject of awareness campaigns. Let’s look at both, including how you can help prevent problems.
The ongoing educational efforts by the Prevent Cancer Foundation and many other groups have helped drive a decrease in the US death rate from colorectal cancer among both men and women. In fact, there are now more than 1 million survivors of the disease in our country.
That’s all good news but, despite the decline, the disease is still the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both males and females in the US. The American Cancer Society (ACS) anticipates the disease is expected to cause about 50,630 deaths during 2018. So, what preventive steps can you take?
Screening is recommended starting at age 50 for people who are not at increased risk of colorectal cancer. People at higher risk, such as those with a strong family history of colorectal cancer, should consult with their doctor about the best age to begin screening.
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of colorectal cancer in both men and women, but the link seems to be stronger in men. Staying at a healthy weight may help lower risk.
As it is with many other cancers, long-term smoking is linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
Your prescription coverage can help with the cost of smoking cessation medications your doctor might prescribe.
Did you know that more than 30 million Americans have kidney disease and most don’t know it? In addition, there are over 95,000 people waiting for kidney transplants and more than 590,000 people have kidney failure.
Most people know that a major function of the kidneys is to remove waste products and excess fluid from the body, but these two fist-sized organs are busy doing these things, too:
- Regulating the body’s salt, potassium and acid content
- Balancing the body’s fluids
- Controlling the production of red blood cells
- Removing drugs from the body
- Releasing hormones that regulate blood pressure
- Producing an active form of vitamin D that promotes strong, healthy bones
What puts you at risk for kidney disease? Major risk factors include diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of kidney failure and being age 60 or older. Kidney problems often have no symptoms and can go undetected until very advanced. Urine and blood tests can easily determine if you have kidney disease. Ask your doctor about these tests during your annual exam, have your blood pressure checked regularly and, as is the case for so many diseases, don’t smoke.