Tree of Health Integrative Medicine, PLLC

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Colorectal Cancer Awareness

By Dr. Elizabeth Orth

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so it is the perfect time to address this very important topic. Colorectal Cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in both men and women. The good news is that the number of colorectal cancer related deaths is declining. This decline may be due to screening, since the earlier this cancer is found, the better the survival rate. So, while there is still more to be done to combat this cancer, making sure to get a screening test is a good first step.

What is the general screening recommendation?

It is recommended for the average risk person to screen for colorectal cancer starting at 50 years old.

What are the screening options?

Colonoscopy (every 10 years): This is the most highly recommended option since it screens for both polyps, which can become cancerous, and cancer. If polyps are found, they can be removed during the colonoscopy. This test requires bowel prep, is more invasive, and has to be done at a doctor’s office (most of the time it is done by a gastroenterologist), so it is not an attractive option for everyone.

FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test, every year): This test mainly screens for cancer but it is a home collection test (the sample is collected at home and then mailed to the lab), which can be convenient.

Cologuard Stool DNA Test (every 3 years): This is the newest colorectal screening test. While some pre-cancerous conditions can be found, it mainly is used for cancer screening. This is also a home collection test.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy (every 5 years):  It is a procedure, which evaluates the lower part of your colon.  Done in combination with fecal occult blood testing every 3 years.

What other things may help prevent colorectal cancer?

Some factors that may help prevent colorectal cancer include:

  • Diet high in fruits and vegetables.
  • Exercise
  • Avoiding tobacco and too much alcohol.
  • Vitamin D3 (especially if your Vitamin D level is low).



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Spring Forward

By Dr. Eleonora Naydis

How do we actually “Spring Forward” (as opposed to dragging our feet) with daylight saving time?  Not only do we lose an hour of precious sleep, moving time forward also affects our internal clock.  Additional sleep loss resulting from daylight saving time-change was found to be associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart attacks, and traffic accidents.  Lack of sleep can also affect our mood, memory, and concentration.

So how do we make this transition easier?  – Get the right amount of light at the right time.

Get plenty of light first thing in the morning.  Try to spend as much time outside as possible in the first part of the day.  Light is a primary cue that synchronizes our internal circadian rhythm to the outside environment.  Light suppresses production of melatonin, a natural hormone that helps us sleep, so that we are awake and active during the day.

Keep your room dark during the night.   Before bedtime, don’t use any TV or electronic devices for a few hours to get your body ready for sleep.  Electronic devices emit blue light, which suppresses production of melatonin (remember, we need melatonin to feel sleepy).  Also watching TV/news can increase the levels of cortisol (stress hormone), and can affect your sleep in a negative way.

And here are additional reminders for better sleep:

  1. Develop a routine: go to bed and wake up at the same time.
  2. Avoid caffeine, spicy heavy meals before meals, and nicotine in the second part of the day.
  3. Eat a protein snack a few hours prior to bed.
  4. Avoid alcohol. While it can help falling asleep, it prevents you from getting good quality sleep.
  5. If you are having trouble with sleep, go to bed when tired and get up if you can’t sleep after 20 minutes. Don’t take naps during the day.
  6. Develop sleep rituals – take a bath, listen to relaxing music, meditate before bed. Make your bedroom a relaxing place.
  7. Exercise is important, but some people need to exercise earlier during the day for better night sleep.

Happy spring and easy transitions to you all!