Health Questions & Answers #71 ~ [Issue 0106-4]
Jan 26, 2006 19:16 PST
Q & A #1:
What can I do to reduce my risk of cancer?
It is estimated that at least 50% of cancer cases could be prevented
if some lifestyle changes are made. However, even the healthiest
lifestyle cannot guarantee a person will not get cancer. Fortunately,
many cancers respond better to treatment if they are detected early.
Research continues to show some cancers can be prevented. Take these
steps now to reduce your risk of developing cancer. Do not smoke, and
avoid second-hand smoke. Eat 5 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit
a day. Choose high fibre, lower fat foods. If you drink alcohol,
limit your intake to 1 to 2 drinks a day. Be physically active on a
regular basis: this will also help you maintain a healthy body
weight. Protect yourself and your family from the sun. Reduce sun
exposure between 11 am and 4 pm. Check your skin regularly, and
report any changes to your doctor. Follow cancer screening
guidelines. For women, discuss mammograms, Pap tests and breast exams
with a health professional. For men, discuss testicular exams and
prostate screening with a health professional. Both men and women
should also discuss screening for colon and rectal cancers. Visit
your doctor or dentist if you notice a change in your normal state of
health. Follow health and safety instructions both at home and at
work when using, storing, and disposing of hazardous materials.
Q & A #2:
My child has asthma. Is exercise safe?
Having asthma does not mean your child has to sit on the sidelines.
Exercise is important for all children, even those with asthma. In
the past, children with asthma were told to avoid sports and physical
activities, but not anymore. As long as your child's asthma is
well-controlled, he or she should be able to participate fully in
most sports. In fact, lots of world-class athletes have asthma. Your
child's doctor can help you create an exercise program that is safe
and fun. The key to safe exercise is to work with your child's doctor
to make sure his or her asthma symptoms are controlled. Talk to the
doctor if asthma symptoms interfere with your child's ability to take
part in gym class or play sports.
Q & A #3:
What is COPD and can it be prevented?
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD makes breathing hard.
It slowly damages the airways of the lungs, making them swollen and
blocked and causing them to lose their elasticity or stretchiness.
COPD makes it hard to breathe because: 1. the airways and air sacs of
the lungs lose their shape and stretchiness; 2. the walls between
many of the air sacs are destroyed; 3. the walls of the airways
become thick and swollen; 4. cells in the airways make more mucus
than usual, which blocks the airways. COPD is a term that includes a
number of lung diseases. The most common are chronic bronchitis and
emphysema. Many people with COPD have both of these lung diseases.
COPD is a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time.
Symptoms like shortness of breath, increased mucus and coughing often
slowly get worse. Some people with COPD say it feels like they are
breathing through a straw. There is no cure for COPD, but it can be
Q & A #4:
What causes COPD?
Smoking cigarettes causes about 90 percent of COPD cases. Other risk
factors include: heredity (for example, Alpha1 Antitrypsin
Deficiency, which is a rare genetic disorder that can cause COPD);
second-hand smoke; exposure to air pollution at work and in the
environment, such as dust or chemicals; a history of childhood lung
infections. The good news about COPD is that it is almost completely
preventable. If you are a smoker, the single best thing you can do to
reduce your chance of getting COPD is to stop smoking. It is never
too late to quit. Quitting smoking not only reduces your risk of
developing COPD in the first place, but it also helps to slow down
the disease once you have it. Also, the earlier a doctor detects
COPD, the easier it is to treat. It is very important for smokers and
former smokers to ask their doctors for a simple breathing test,
called spirometry. This quick, painless test measures how much and
how fast you can move air in and out of your lungs. It is the best
way for doctors to detect COPD.
Q & A #5:
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that causes your breathing to stop
repeatedly while you sleep. These breathing pauses or "apneas"
usually last 10 to 30 seconds and can happen many times throughout
the night. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep
apnea, which happens when the upper airway gets blocked during sleep.
Often, the blockage happens when the soft tissue in the back of the
throat collapses and closes during sleep. Relaxed throat muscles, a
narrow airway, a large tongue or extra fatty tissue in the throat can
also block the airway. Central apnea and mixed apnea are other types
of sleep apnea, but are more rare.