by Bag It Team | May 4, 2023 | Educational Articles
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month
As spring gets into full swing and we all look forward to spending time outdoors, being smart about sunscreen is one of the best ways you can prevent skin cancer. To get all the protection sunscreen offers, here are a few tips to help your skin stay healthy:
- Use a broad spectrum, 30 SPF sunscreen every day of the year–even when you are nowhere near the water.
- Apply the sunscreen 15-30 minutes before you go outside so it gets absorbed and fully protects you. The sun’s rays damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes.
- Don’t use old sunscreen. Many sunscreens don’t have an expiration date but the protection will be its strongest for about three years. Tip: Write the purchase date on the bottle.
- Most people don’t use enough sunscreen. Use 1 ounce (picture a shot glass of sunscreen) to fully cover an adult body. Ears, eyelids, lips, scalps, feet and necks are the most forgotten areas that suffer sun damage.
- Sunscreen application is not a “one and done” process. Reapply the sunscreen every two hours, especially if you have been swimming or sweating.
The Centers for Disease Control also recommend that you stay in the shade, wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, a hat with a wide brim to shade your face, head, ears, and neck and sunglasses that wrap around as well as block both UVA and UVB rays.
Enjoy your summer!
by Bag It Team | Apr 6, 2023 | Educational Articles
The advice on alcohol use can be confusing. One day there’s a research study touting some health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption (particularly red wine), and the next day another study reports that all alcohol is bad for you. One fact that is not disputed is that the less you drink, the lower your risk for developing cancer.
April is Alcohol Awareness Month and a good opportunity to take a look at our drinking patterns through the lens of cancer risk to decide if making different choices might be in order.
Most people don’t have a problem with alcohol, but thinking about when, where, why, and much you drink can give insights about the role alcohol plays in your life and your health.
Here are some resources from authoritative organizations to help answer questions you might have about alcohol and its role in cancer risk.
- Rethinking Drinking is a resource that can help you assess your drinking habits and provide valuable, research-based information to help you cut back or stop drinking if needed. It is available online as an interactive tool and as a brochure.
- American Institute for Cancer Research–Alcohol and Cancer Prevention
- Center for Disease Control–Alcohol and Cancer
- Are you worried about a loved one’s drinking? Use these tips to talk with someone about cutting back or quitting drinking.
by Bag It Team | Feb 8, 2023 | Educational Articles
Some good news about cancer…
It is estimated that nearly half of cancer deaths worldwide can be prevented, according to recently published medical research. Some cancers are out of our control, but we can make choices about our habits and the way we live to reduce our risk of cancer. Here are some examples:
- Don’t use tobacco
- Protect your skin from the sun
- Eat a plant-based diet
- Limit alcohol
- Maintain a healthy weight and move, move, move
- Get vaccinated against HPV and hepatitis B
- Practice safer sex and avoid risky behaviors
- Reduce your exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution
Finally, know your family medical history and share it with your doctors. Most people do not have a family history of cancer so getting the cancer screenings your doctors recommend for your particular situation is important. Early detection can lead to better outcomes.
The American Institute for Cancer Research offers a free 30-day checklist to help you eat well, move more and make healthy lifestyle choices to reduce your cancer risk. Find it here along with other cancer prevention resources.
by Bag It Team | Aug 31, 2022 | Educational Articles
September 20 is Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day. It’s a day set aside to remind us that some of our loved ones may need a little help when it comes to seeing a healthcare provider. Many people skip regular check-ups or wait until there is an emergency to visit a doctor. This could put them at risk for serious health issues.
There can be many issues holding someone back from a visit to the doctor’s office. Fear of doctors, needles, or tests. Access or not having a general practitioner they know. Concern about insurance coverage or other costs. Not having the time or not being in the habit of regular check-ups. Whatever is holding them back, having some extra support and encouragement could help them to schedule a much-needed visit.
When starting the conversation make sure to ask your loved one about their current health needs and write down any concerns they have regarding a visit. It can be a delicate conversation but here are some resources to help guide you.
“Most people don’t bring up the idea of going to the doctor in regular conversation. Days like Take a Loved One to the Doctor offer the opportunity to have those discussions with someone who might be resistant to get a routine check-up.”
—Dr. Rupesh Parikh, Comprehensive Cancer Centers’ Practice President
Resources To Help Your Loved One
This AARP guide provides advice regarding how to talk to your loved one about going to the doctor, being prepared for your appointment and other useful resources. They recommend that “you might need to turn on your powers of persuasion to get your loved one to agree to see a doctor. Many people have a long list of reasons for avoiding doctors’ visits. Don’t fight every point.”
The Comprehensive Cancer Center recommends teamwork, incentives and setting up the appointment once they agree.
Once the appointment is made, the American Cancer Society has some great tips for before, during and after the visit.
The Bag It Guidebook includes forms for medications, insurance contacts, medical information, list of questions, and an appointment summary log to help you prepare for, interact during and summarize the appointments. If you don’t have a Bag It bag, you can download the forms from our website.
“Most people don’t bring up the idea of going to the doctor in regular conversation,” said Dr. Rupesh Parikh, Comprehensive Cancer Centers’ practice president. “Days like Take a Loved One to the Doctor Day offer the opportunity to have those discussions with someone who might be resistant to get a routine check-up.”
by Bag It Team | Feb 8, 2022 | Educational Articles
We wish we could say that all cancer is preventable if you just follow these steps, but that is not the case. However, research has shown that more than 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed can be attributed to preventable causes. That is why February is dedicated to cancer prevention.
Knowing the actions we need to take and actually taking them, does often require change in our lifestyle. Some of the actions we can take might feel a little easier such as not getting too much sun exposure, skipping the tanning bed, and making sure to have sun protection on when you are exposed. Some actions might feel more difficult like maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, making different food choices and exercising regularly. A clean bill of health will show you the effort is worth it.
These behavior changes are listed as the top contributing factors for cancer prevention:
- Quit smoking: (this includes cigarettes, pipes, cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes) Tobacco use has been shown to increase the risk of developing 17 different types of cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese as an adult increases a person’s risk for 15 types of cancer. Talk to your doctor about what is a healthy weight for you.
- Be physically active: Being physically active reduces risk for nine types of cancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity 5 times a week.
- Limit alcohol intake: Order smaller portions and drink a glass of water after every alcoholic beverage.
- Get regular screenings: American Cancer Society cancer screening guidelines by age.
- Get available vaccines: The Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can significantly decrease the risk of several cancers including cervical, throat, tongue, anal, and other genital cancers. The Hepatitis B vaccine decreases the risk for liver cancer.
- Protect your skin from the sun: limit sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., make sure to wear sunscreen, clothing that covers your skin, and avoid tanning beds.
- Know your family history: Early detection can be key in life saving treatment. Knowing your family history can help you and your doctor plan for regular screenings (which may be recommended earlier with a known family history).
- Follow a healthy diet: AICR’s New American Plate, (⅔ whole grains, vegetables, fruit and beans, ⅓ protein), emphasizes foods that can reduce your risk for cancer and other chronic diseases.
There are lots of programs that can help you with weight maintenance, quitting smoking and alcohol intake. Talk to your doctor for any recommendations they feel might help. AICR’s website offers healthy recipes that contain cancer fighting foods.
If talking with your family about their health history feels difficult, practice with a friend first. Remind them that knowing their history can help you with early detection and prevention. If you do not have family available to ask about their history, talk to your doctor about genetic testing that may be available.
If getting started with activity is a little overwhelming or you don’t know what you like to do, many exercise programs have classes available online. If you find something you enjoy, you are much more likely to engage in activity regularly. Try lots of options and remember to start where you are.
In this month that focuses on LOVE, show yourself (and those who love you) some love by committing to lifestyle changes that will reduce your risk of being diagnosed with cancer. If you need a little extra support and accountability, you can take the pledge for AICR’s Click, Connect, and Commit campaign which offers a step-by-step guide to incorporate AICR’s 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations in your everyday routine. You will also find a calendar with small steps you can take every day in February to help work towards your long term prevention goals.