KNOW YOUR HEART. 10 Facts about the Cardiovascular system…

The cardiovascular system carries blood and nutrients to the cells of the body. The function of this system has effects on other parts of the body. A nursing student has many facts to learn about the cardiovascular system. Therefore, this article below will start you off with a list of 10 facts about the cardiovascular system that every nursing student should know.

The cardiovascular system or circulatory system consists of the heart, blood and blood vessels. The heart is the pump of the system and sits in the thoracic cavity. The heart sits predominately on the left side. Therefore, approximately two-thirds of the heart is to the left side of the sternum. The blood is a connective tissue. It is the fluid component of the system. The blood is transported to the cells via a network of passageways call the blood vessels.

There are 3 major layers of the heart. The layers are the endocardium, myocardium and the pericardium. The endocardium lines the inner chambers of the heart and the valves. The myocardium makes up the heart wall. The pericardium is the container of the heart. This triple-walled layer protects the heart. Also, the pericardium contains a fibrous layer and a serous layer. The serous layer has two separate layers. These layers are the parietal and visceral layers.

Below is a list of 10 facts about the cardiovascular system that every nursing student should know to help build a foundation of knowledge of the cardiovascular system.

Fact #1: The Cardiovascular System Is A Closed System.

The cardiovascular system is a closed system and also a system which is under pressure. This means if there is a leak in a large vessel it does not drip it sprays, especially a leak on the arterial side.

Therefore, when small leaks occur the system has a method of stopping these leaks. Hemostasis is the system within the blood that stops these leaks. Hemostasis is defined as the stoppage of blood. This system is constantly in action sealing small insults to the system.

Substances contained in the blood assist the process of hemostasis. The blood contains calcium ions and plasma proteins that cause coagulation or clotting within seconds of an injury. These plasma proteins are your clotting factors. (e.g. prothrombin and vitamin K)

Fact #2: The Heart Has Four Chambers.

The heart has four chambers: the right and left atria and the right and left ventricles. The right atrium and right ventricle receive deoxygenated blood from the body. The left atrium and left ventricle receive oxygenated blood from the lungs.

The atria of the heart are mostly reservoirs. The atria only contribute “atrial kick” to the cardiac cycle. Atrial kick or atrial contraction contributes approximately 20% of the volume to ventricular filling.

The ventricles make up the majority of the heart. The ventricles of the heart receive blood from the atrium. They eject blood into the pulmonary system (lungs) and to the systemic circulation (body).

The right side of the heart (ventricle) pumps against a low-pressure system (pulmonary circulation) and the left side of the heart (ventricle) pumps against a high-pressure system (systemic circulation). The left ventricle works harder than all the other chambers because it has to pump against the high pressure of the systemic circulation.

Fact #3: The Heart Has Four Valves.

The right side of the heart contains the tricuspid and pulmonary valves. The left side of the heart contains the bicuspid (mitral) and aortic valves.

The tricuspid and bicuspid (mitral) valves separate the atrium and ventricles.  These valves are also called the atrioventricular or AV valves.  As you would guess the tricuspid valve had three cusps or leaflets and the bicuspid valve has two cusps or leaflets.

The pulmonary valve opens to the pulmonary circulation and the lungs. The aortic valve opens to the systemic circulation. These valves are also called the semilunar valves because of their shape. The pulmonary and aortic valve each has three cusps or leaflets that are shaped like a half moon.

The “Lub-Dub” sound you hear with your stethoscope is the closing of the heart valves. The heart sound S1 is the closure of the tricuspid and bicuspid (mitral) valves. The heart sound S2 is the closure of the pulmonary and aortic valves.

Fact #4: The Heart Valves Operate Due To A Pressure System.

The valves of the heart open and close due to pressure within the system. During the cardiac cycle, the atria fill with blood. As the atria fill, the pressure in the atria eventually exceeds the pressure in the ventricles. When this happens the tricuspid and bicuspid (mitral) valves open and blood flows into the ventricles.

As blood flows into the ventricles the pressure begins to rise. Eventually, the pressure in the ventricles exceeds the pressure in the atria. This pressure that builds up in the ventricles is attributed to filling volumes of the ventricles. At this time the pulmonary valve and aortic valves close.

Following the isovolumetric contraction of the ventricles, the pulmonary and aortic valves open. Then, blood is ejected into the pulmonary circulation and systemic circulation.

Both the left and right atria fill at the same time and both the left and right ventricles fill at the same time.

Fact #5: Blood Vessels Are The Vascular Portion Of The Cardiovascular System.

Blood vessels include arteries and veins. When the blood leaves the heart it flows into the arteries. Arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to systemic circulation. The arteries divide into the smaller arterioles. Next, the arterioles divide into the even smaller capillary network on the arterial side. This arterial capillary network feeds the cells.

The veins divide into smaller venules. The venules divide into the smaller capillary network of the veins. Starting at the capillary network, the capillaries on the vein side pick up carbon dioxide and waste products which travel to the venules and then to the veins and back to the heart.

Blood flows from the heart to the arteries to the arterioles to the arterial capillary network. Then blood moves from the vein capillary network to the venules to the veins and back to the heart.

Fact #6: Blood Vessels Can Constrict And Dilate Having An Effect On Blood Pressure.

The sympathetic nervous system controls the blood vessels. Blood vessels have the ability to constrict or dilate with signals from the sympathetic nervous system.

Vasoconstriction and vasodilation occur when the blood vessels dilate and constrict. Vasoconstriction causes a decrease in the inner diameter of the blood vessel. Vasodilation causes an increase in the inner diameter of the blood vessel.

Blood vessels have an effect on blood pressure.

Remember, blood pressure is the measure of the pressure exerted on the walls of the blood vessel. The greater the pressure within the blood vessel the higher the blood pressure measurement. The lower the pressure within the blood vessel the lower the blood pressure measurement. The systolic pressure is the maximum pressure against the wall of the blood vessel and the diastolic pressure is the recoil.

A change in the diameter of the blood vessels causes changes in the blood pressure. When the blood vessels constrict (vasoconstriction), the blood pressure is higher. This is because the decrease in the diameter of the blood vessel increases the pressure exerted on the lumen. When the blood vessels dilate (vasodilation), the blood pressure is lower. This is because the increase in the diameter of the blood vessel decreases the pressure exerted on the lumen.

Fact #7: The Ventricles Contract Due To Electrical Pathways.

The ventricles contract due to the cardiac conduction system (electrical pathways). The cardiac conduction system consists of the SA or sinoatrial node, the AV or atrioventricular node, the bundle of HIS, the right bundle branch, the left bundle branch and the Purkinje fibers.

The SA node is known as the pacemaker of the heart. It is located on the wall of the right atrium near the entrance to the superior vena cava. The AV node receives electrical impulses from the SA node and transfers them to the bundle of HIS. The bundle of HIS divides into the left and right bundle branch. Impulses travel to each bundle branch down the septum to the Purkinje fibers. The Purkinje fibers innervate the ventricles. The atria of the heart contract before the ventricles.

Fact #8: The Cardiac Cycle Consist of Diastole and Systole.

First of all, the cardiac cycle consists of phases called diastole and systole. These terms should not be confused with the terms diastolic and systolic which refer to blood pressure. These terms are related but not the same. Also, when we talk about diastole and systole we are referring to the ventricles. (e.g. ventricular diastole, ventricular systole)

During systole, when the heart contracts, blood is ejected from the ventricles.  The right ventricle ejects blood into the pulmonary circulation (lung) and left ventricle ejects blood into the systemic circulation (body).

During diastole, the heart is at rest and the ventricles are filling. When you think of diastole think of Die, Done, Doing nothing (but filling-ventricular filling) and systole is the opposite.

Fact #9: The Cardiac Cycle Moves Blood Through The Heart.

The phases of the cardiac cycle are diastole and systole. Diastole is divided into early, mid, and late diastole. Systole is divided into early and late systole. Remember, when you think of diastole and systole, think of ventricular diastole and systole. Let’s take a quick walk through diastole and systole. It is easier to begin at diastole.

Early Diastole

Early diastole begins following the closure of the pulmonary and aortic. The tricuspid and bicuspid (mitral) valves are open. During early diastole, the ventricles are rapidly filling. The pressure in the ventricles is beginning to increase.

Mid Diastole

During mid-diastole, the ventricles continue filling but slower. The pressure in the ventricles continues to rise but they still have not exceeded the pressure in the atria. The tricuspid and bicuspid (mitral) valves are still open. The pulmonary and aortic valves close.

Late Diastole

During late diastole, the atrium contract to finish emptying. The atrial contraction is the “atrial kick”. This accounts for approximately 20% of ventricular filling.

Early Systole

At the beginning of early systole, the pressure in the ventricles is greater than the pressure in the atrium. At this time you have an isovolumetric contraction. The ventricular filling and the isovolumetric contraction causes the tricuspid and bicuspid (mitral) to close. This causes the “Lub” sound. The “Lub” is the S1 heart sound.

Late Systole

During late systole, you have ventricular ejection.  The blood is ejected into the pulmonary circulation and systemic circulation when the pulmonary and aortic valves are opened. The blood is ejected by the ventricles fast at first then the blood flow slows.

This puts us back to the beginning of early diastole in which the pulmonary and aortic valves close and the tricuspid and mitral valves are open. When the pulmonary and aortic valves close they make the “Dub” sound. The “Dub” is the S2 heart sound. The ventricles are filling during this period.

So, between S1 and S2 you have systole. Between the S2 and the next S1, you have diastole.

Fact #10: There Is A Relationship Between The Cardiac Cycle And Blood Flow.

First of all, the cardiac cycle and blood flow through the heart are very similar. If you understand one you will understand the other. With the cardiac cycle, we move from the top to the bottom (atria to ventricles). With blood flow through the heart, we will move from the right to the left.

Right Atrium

On the venous or return side, deoxygenated blood travel from the venous capillary beds to the venule. Blood continues to travel to the large veins called the superior vena cava and the inferior vena cava. These veins transport blood from the top and bottom of the body. They return blood to the right side of the heart into the right atrium. Then, the right atrium fills causing increased pressure that is eventually greater than the pressure in the right ventricle. This places pressure on the tricuspid valve.

Right Ventricle

The pressure continues to rise until it is greater in the right atrium and causes the tricuspid valve to open. The right ventricle begins to fill. The right atrium contracts causing the final filling of the right ventricle.

As a result of electrical stimulation, the right ventricle contracts. The tricuspid valve closes. The right ventricle ejects blood causing the pulmonary valve to open. Blood enters the pulmonary circulation and moves to the lungs via the pulmonary artery. The blood travels through the capillary bed of the lung. After the blood is oxygenated it returns to the left side of the heart.

Left Atrium

On the left side of the heart, blood travels from the lung to the left atrium via the pulmonary vein. The left atrium begins to fill causing the pressure to increase in the left atrium. The increased pressure is eventually greater in the left atrium producing pressure on the bicuspid (mitral) valve.

Note: If you note above, the pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood to the lungs and the pulmonary veins carry oxygenated blood to the left atrium. The pulmonary artery is the only artery in the body that carries deoxygenated blood and the pulmonary vein is the only vein in the body that carries oxygenated blood.

Left Ventricle

The pressure continues to rise until it is greater in the left atrium than the left ventricle and causes the bicuspid (mitral) valve to open. The left ventricle begins to fill. The left atrium contracts causing the final filling of the left ventricle.

Again due to the electrical stimulation, the left ventricle contracts. The bicuspid (mitral) valve closes and the aortic valve opens ejecting blood into the systemic circulation via the aorta. The blood travels throughout the body via the arteries, arterioles to the capillary bed where the process continues.

In conclusion, the list of 10 facts about the cardiovascular system above is by no means all-inclusive. Hopefully, this list will help build a foundation useful in studying the cardiovascular system. Hence, these simple facts will give you a greater understanding of not only how the system works but how it can affect other parts of the body.

How diet can alter the gut, leading to insulin resistance

New research — using mouse models and fecal samples collected from humans — looks into the mechanisms that promote insulin resistance via the gut environment. The type of diet a person eats may be key, the researchers suggest.

New research looks in more detail at the mechanisms linking diet to insulin resistance.

Insulin resistance occurs when the body stops responding normally to insulin, a hormone that helps the body process sugar.

Developing insulin resistance can lead to type 2 diabetes, which is a metabolic condition that affects millions of people worldwide.

Obesity is a significant risk factor for insulin resistance and diabetes. But how and why does obesity drive this metabolic change?

Researchers from the University of Toronto in Canada believe the answer may lie in the mechanisms that consuming a high fat diet sets in motion.

“During high fat diet feeding and obesity, a significant shift occurs in the microbial populations within the gut, known as dysbiosis, which interacts with the intestinal immune system,” the researchers explain in their new study paper, published in Nature Communications.

The team decided to try and find out exactly how a high fat diet might alter gut immunity and, thus, bacterial balance, leading to insulin resistance.

“A link between the gut microbiota and the intestinal immune system is the immune derived molecule immunoglobulin A (IgA),” the researchers note in their paper. They add that this molecule is an antibody produced by B cells, a type of immune cells.

The investigators thought that IgA might be the missing link that explained how a poor diet leads to insulin resistance by altering gut immunity.

A sensitive mechanism impacted by diet

In the first part of their study, the investigators used mouse models with obesity, some of which lacked IgA. The researchers found that when the IgA-deficient mice ate a high fat diet, their insulin resistance worsened.

When the researchers collected gut bacteria from the IgA-deficient mice and transplanted them into rodents without gut bacteria, these mice also developed insulin resistance.

This experiment, the researchers suggest, indicates that at normal levels, IgA would help keep gut bacteria in check. Not just that, but it would also help prevent harmful bacteria from “leaking” through the intestines.

Mice without IgA had increased gut permeability, meaning that harmful bacteria could “leak” from the gut into the rest of the body.

Following these experiments in preclinical models, the researchers then moved on to see if the same mechanisms applied to humans. They were able to obtain stool samples from individuals who had undergone bariatric surgery — a form of surgery for weight loss.

The researchers analyzed the content of IgA in stool samples collected both before and after the individuals had undergone bariatric surgery.

The researchers found that these individuals had higher levels of IgA in their feces after surgery, suggesting that this antibody was indeed linked to metabolic function and influenced by diet.

“We discovered that during obesity, there are lower levels of a type of B cell in the gut that make an antibody called IgA,” notes the study’s lead author Helen Luck.

“IgA is naturally produced by our bodies and is crucial to regulating the bacteria that live in our gut,” she explains. She adds that “[i]t acts as a defense mechanism that helps neutralize potentially dangerous bacteria that take advantage of changes to the environment, such as when we consume an imbalanced or fatty diet.”

The results of the current research suggest a direct link between eating a high fat diet and having obesity, on the one hand, and having lower levels of gut IgA, symptoms of gut inflammation, and developing insulin resistance, on the other.

In the future, the researchers would like to find out how best to boost levels of IgA-producing B cells, believing that this intervention could protect against insulin resistance.

“If we can boost these IgA B cells or their products, then we may be able to control the type of bacteria in the gut. Especially the ones that are more likely to be linked to inflammation and ultimately, insulin resistance. “

Co-author Dr. Daniel Winer

“Going forward, this work could form the basis for new gut immune biomarkers or therapies for obesity and its complications, like insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes,” says study co-author Dr. Daniel Winer.

Both blood pressure numbers may predict heart disease


According to new research, both high systolic and high diastolic blood pressure can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death worldwide. In the United States, more than 600,000 people die of heart disease every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly one-quarter of deaths due to cardiovascular disease are preventable.

Blood pressure readings are critical for analyzing and monitoring blood pressure. These tests record blood pressure using two measurements: systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Understanding these numbers is key to controlling blood pressure.

The systolic pressure shows how much pressure the blood places on the arteries when the heart beats, while the diastolic blood pressure shows the pressure while the heart is resting between beats. The American Heart Association (AHA) advise that blood pressure numbers below 120/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) are normal.

When readings range from 120–129 mm Hg systolic and less than 80 mm Hg diastolic, the person has elevated blood pressure. Hypertension occurs when blood pressure is consistently over 130 mm Hg systolic or more than 80 mm Hg diastolic.

Which number is more important?

When doctors evaluate the risk of high blood pressure, they usually pay more attention to systolic blood pressure, which they consider a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease in older adults.

Decades of research have indicated that high systolic blood pressure is more likely than diastolic pressure to predict heart disease, but now, a new study finds that both numbers in blood pressure readings have a strong association with heart attack and stroke risk.

Researchers at Kaiser Permanente, a healthcare company in Oakland, CA, carried out the study, which appears in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The research involved more than 36 million blood pressure readings from 1.3 million people. The results challenged previous findings and showed the importance of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

“This research brings a large amount of data to bear on a basic question, and it gives such a clear answer,” says Kaiser Permanente stroke specialist Dr. Alexander C. Flint, who is the lead author of the study.

The study’s senior author is Dr. Deepak L. Bhatt, executive director of Interventional Cardiovascular Services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School — both in Boston, MA.

Dr. Flint explains that previous research has influenced cardiology guidelines, which have focused primarily on systolic pressure to predict the risk of heart disease. Some experts even argue that it might be possible to ignore the diastolic number.

The new study is the largest of its kind. The findings confirmed that systolic pressure has a greater effect, but they also demonstrated that both systolic and diastolic pressure can predict the risk of heart attack or stroke.

The researchers analyzed the effects of systolic and diastolic hypertension on a variety of adverse outcomes, such as “myocardial infarction, ischemic stroke, or hemorrhagic stroke,” over 8 years and found that both components independently predicted heart attack and stroke.

The recently updated American College of Cardiology and AHA guidelines now recommend more closely monitoring people at increased risk of high blood pressure. The findings of the new study that both systolic and diastolic hypertension have an effect at the lower threshold of 130/80 mm Hg support this change.

The National Institutes of Health’s Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) has also produced similar results.

“This analysis, using a very large amount of longitudinal data, convincingly demonstrates that both are important, and it shows that in people who are otherwise generally healthy, lower blood pressure numbers are better.”

Urine test can help diagnose aggressive prostate cancer

Recent research has revealed that a new urine test can detect aggressive prostate cancer cases that need treatment up to 5 years sooner than other diagnostic methods.

Researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich, United Kingdom, and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) carried out the study.

They revealed that an experimental urine test, called Prostate Urine Risk (PUR), can find cancers that will require treatment within the first 5 years of diagnosis.

The findings now appear in the journal BJU International.

The team included Prof. Colin Cooper, Dr. Daniel Brewer, and Dr. Jeremy Clark, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School. Rob Mills, Marcel Hanna, and Prof. Richard Ball, of the NNUH, provided support.

Looking at biomarkers

To develop this unique test, the researchers looked at gene expression in the urine samples of 535 men and determined the cell-free expression of 167 different genes.

They then established a combination of 35 different genes that the scientists considered risk signatures, or biomarkers, that the PUR test could look for.

This test is unique in that it can sort people into different risk groups, thereby demonstrating the aggressiveness of the cancer.

“This research shows that our urine test could be used to not only diagnose prostate cancer without the need for an invasive needle biopsy but to identify a [person’s] level of risk,” says Dr. Clark.

“This means that we could predict whether or not prostate cancer patients already on active surveillance would require treatment. The really exciting thing is that the test predicted disease progression up to 5 years before it was detected by standard clinical methods.”

“Furthermore,” he adds, “the test was able to identify men that were up to eight times less likely to need treatment within 5 years of diagnosis.”

Prostate cancer is common but slow-growing

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), around 1 in 9 men will receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer during their lifetime. In 2019, the ACS estimate that there will be around 174,000 new cases of prostate cancer and over 31,000 deaths from the condition.

That said, most cases of prostate cancer do not result in death. In fact, the 5-year survival rate for localized and regional prostate cancer is nearly 100%, and even when combined with those who have distant-stage prostate cancer, the overall survival rate is still 98%.

Not counting skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. Thanks to early detection techniques, doctors can diagnose and treat many cases early. Because it is a slow growing cancer, tests usually find before it before it has the chance to spread.

What this test means in a clinical setting

There are many ways to help identify prostate cancer. Although a prostate biopsy is the only way to definitely diagnose the condition, there are a few screening tests that can indicate if a biopsy is necessary.

For example, the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test can help detect the possible presence of prostate cancer. Doctors tend to use these results, or a series of results, to determine if someone needs a biopsy.

Doctors might also perform a digital rectal exam to see if there are areas on the prostate that could be cancer. Although it is less effective than a PSA test, it can sometimes find cancers in people with normal PSA levels.

The PUR test goes one step further; it not only identifies the presence of cancer earlier than other tests, it can also help put people into different risk groups so that doctors can more accurately determine the course of care and whether to watch and wait, take a biopsy, or start treatment immediately.

“If this test was to be used in the clinic, large numbers of men could avoid an unnecessary initial biopsy and the repeated, invasive follow-up of men with low-risk disease could be drastically reduced.”

When to see a doctor if a child has a nosebleed

Nosebleeds are common in children but are usually short-lived and rarely a cause for concern. Persistent, recurring, or very heavy bleeding may, however, require medical attention.

Doctors refer to nosebleeds as epistaxis. Approximately 60 percent of people will experience a nosebleed at some point during their life. However, nosebleeds occur most commonly in children aged between 2 and 10 years and in older people aged 50 to 80 years.

Although the bleeding can sometimes be alarming, only about 10 percent of nosebleeds are serious enough to require medical treatment.

In this article, we explain what to do when a child’s nose starts bleeding and when to see a doctor. We also discuss medical treatments, causes, and tips for prevention.

What to do

A person can usually treat a child’s nosebleed at home. It is important to stay calm because most nosebleeds are short-lived and do not indicate a serious problem.

To treat a child with a nosebleed:

  • Start by sitting the child down and reassuring them. Have them sit upright and leaning slightly forward.
  • Do not lean the child back or lie them down because this can cause them to swallow the blood and may lead to coughing or vomiting.
  • Gently pinch the tip of the child’s nose between two fingers using a tissue or clean towel and have them breathe through their mouth.
  • Continue to apply pressure for around 10 minutes, even if the bleeding stops.

Do not fill the child’s nose with gauze or tissue and avoid spraying anything into the nose.

When to see a doctor

Children with nosebleeds do not typically require medical attention. Most nosebleeds are short-lived, and it is usually possible to treat the child at home.

However, talk to a doctor if the nosebleeds:

  • occur frequently
  • change from a familiar pattern to a new one
  • occur alongside chronic congestion or other signs of easy bleeding or bruising
  • begin after the child starts taking a new medication
  • regularly require a trip to the emergency room

A nosebleed requires urgent medical attention if:

  • it continues after 20 minutes of applying pressure to the child’s nose
  • it occurs following a head injury, fall, or blow to the face
  • the child also has an intense headache, a fever, or other concerning symptoms
  • the child’s nose appears misshapen or broken
  • the child shows signs of having lost too much blood, such as looking pale, having little energy, feeling dizzy, or passing out
  • the child begins coughing up or vomiting blood
  • the child has a bleeding disorder or is taking blood thinners

Medical treatment

Children with severe nosebleeds should see a healthcare professional, who will try to stop the bleeding.

Treatment options for nosebleeds include:

  • applying silver nitrate to blood vessels to seal them
  • cauterizing, or burning, the blood vessels to seal them
  • packing the nose with medicated gauze to constrict the blood vessels

After stopping the bleeding, a doctor will examine the child to determine the cause. In some cases, the child may require surgery to fix a problem with the blood vessels in the nose.

Causes

An injury or blow to the face can irritate blood vessels in the nose.

Most nosebleeds are anterior nosebleeds, which means that the bleeding occurs in the front, soft part of the nose. This area of the nose contains many small blood vessels that can rupture and bleed if they become irritated or inflamed.

Posterior nosebleeds develop in the rear of the nose and rarely occur in children. This type of nosebleed tends to be heavier, and it can be more difficult to stop the bleeding.

Irritation of the blood vessels is a common cause of anterior nosebleeds. Several things can irritate the blood vessels in the nose, including:

  • dry air
  • picking the nose
  • nasal allergies
  • an injury or blow to the nose or face, for example, from a ball or fall
  • sinusitis, common colds, the flu, and other infections that affect the nasal passages
  • nasal polyps
  • overuse of nasal sprays

Less common causes of nosebleeds in children can include:

  • conditions that affect bleeding or blood clotting, such as hemophilia
  • certain medications, including blood thinners
  • heart disease
  • high blood pressure
  • cancer

Prevention tips

Although it may not be possible to prevent all nosebleeds in children, a person can take steps to help reduce their occurrence. These include:

  • treating allergies to prevent inflammation in the nose
  • using saline (saltwater) nasal sprays to keep the child’s nose moist
  • running a humidifier or vaporizer in the child’s bedroom to prevent the air from drying out
  • keeping children’s nails trimmed to prevent injuries due to nose picking
  • encouraging children to wear appropriate protective equipment during sports or other activities where injury to the nose is possible

Summary

Nosebleeds are a common occurrence in young children and rarely a cause for concern. A person can usually treat the bleeding at home by applying continuous, gentle pressure to the soft part of the child’s nose for around 10 minutes.

Call 911 or take the child to the emergency room if they seem dizzy or weak or if they pass out. It is also necessary to seek immediate medical attention if the bleeding is very heavy, does not stop after 20 minutes, or occurs after a fall or head injury.

Most nosebleeds in children are due to dry air, nose picking, nasal allergies, or other factors that irritate the delicate blood vessels in the front of the nose.

A person should consult a doctor or pediatrician if the child has frequent nosebleeds or has recently started taking a new medication.

What is obesity and what it causes?

Calories Sedentary lifestyle Not sleeping enough Endocrine disruptors Medications Is obesity self-perpetuating? Obesity gene Takeaway

Obesity is a medical condition that occurs when a person carries excess weight or body fat that might affect their health. A doctor will usually suggest that a person has obesity if they have a high body mass index.

Body mass index (BMI) is a tool that doctors use to assess if a person is at an appropriate weight for their age, sex, and height. The measurement combines height and weight.

A BMI between 25 and 29.9 indicates that a person is carrying excess weight. A BMI of 30 or over suggests that a person may have obesity.

Other factors, such as the ratio of waist-to-hip size (WHR), waist-to-height ratio (WtHR), and the amount and distribution of fat on the body also play a role in determining how healthy a person’s weight and body shape are.

If a person does have obesity and excess weight, this can increase their risk of developing a number of health conditions, including metabolic syndrome, arthritis, and some types of cancer.

Metabolic syndrome involves a collection of issues, such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Maintaining a healthy weight or losing through diet and exercise is one way to prevent or reduce obesity. In some cases, a person may need surgery.

Now read on to find out why obesity happens.

1) Consuming too many calories

When a person consumes more calories than they use as energy, their body will store the extra calories as fat. This can lead to excess weight and obesity.

Also, some types of foods are more likely to lead to weight gain, especially those that are high in fats and sugars.

Foods that tend to increase the risk of weight gain include:

  • fast foods
  • fried foods, such as french fries
  • fatty and processed meats
  • many dairy products
  • foods with added sugar, such as baked goods, ready-made breakfast cereals, and cookies
  • foods containing hidden sugars, such as ketchup and many other canned and packaged food items
  • sweetened juices, sodas, and alcoholic drinks
  • processed, high-carb foods, such as bread and bagels

Some processed food products contain high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener, including savory items, such as ketchup.

Eating too much of these foods and doing too little exercise can result in weight gain and obesity.

A person who consumes a diet that consists mainly of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and water is still at risk of gaining excess weight if they overeat, or if genetic factors, for example, increase their risk.

However, they are more likely to enjoy a varied diet while maintaining a healthy weight. Fresh foods and whole grains contain fiber, which makes a person feel full for longer and encourages healthy digestion.

2) Leading a sedentary lifestyle

Many people lead a much more sedentary lifestyle than their parents and grandparents did.

Examples of sedentary habits include:

  • working in an office rather than doing manual labor
  • playing games on a computer instead of doing physical activities outside
  • going to places by car instead of walking or cycling

The less a person moves around, the fewer calories they burn.

Also, physical activity affects how a person’s hormones work, and hormones have an impact on how the body processes food.

Several studies have shown that physical activity can help to keep insulin levels stable and that unstable insulin levels may lead to weight gain.

Researchers who published a review in BMJ Open Sport and Exercise Medicine in 2017 noted that, while the designs of some studies make it hard to draw exact conclusions, “A lifestyle incorporating regular [physical activity] has been identified as a key factor for maintaining and improving many aspects of health, including insulin sensitivity.”

Physical activity need not be training in the gym. Physical work, walking or cycling, climbing stairs, and household tasks all contribute.

However, the type and intensity of activity may affect the degree to which it benefits the body in the short- and long-term.

3) Not sleeping enough

Research has suggested that missing sleep increases the risk of gaining weight and developing obesity.

Researchers reviewed evidence for over 28,000 children and 15,000 adults in the United Kingdom from 1977 to 2012. In 2012, they concluded that sleep deprivation significantly increased obesity risk in both adults and children.

The changes affected children as young as 5 years of age.

The team suggested that sleep deprivation may lead to obesity because it can lead to hormonal changes that increase the appetite.

When a person does not sleep enough, their body produces ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates appetite. At the same time, a lack of sleep also results in a lower production of leptin, a hormone that suppresses the appetite.

4) Endocrine disruptors

A team from the University of Barcelona published a study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology that provides clues as to how liquid fructose — a type of sugar — in beverages may alter lipid energy metabolism and lead to fatty liver and metabolic syndrome.

Features of metabolic syndrome include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. People with obesity are more likely to have metabolic syndrome.

After feeding rats a 10-percent fructose solution for 14 days, the scientists noted that their metabolism was starting to change.

Scientists believe there is a link between high consumption of fructose and obesity and metabolic syndrome. Authorities have raised concerns about the use of high-fructose corn syrup to sweeten drinks and other food products.

Animal studies have found that when obesity occurs due to fructose consumption, there is also a close link with type 2 diabetes.

In 2018, researchers published the results of investigations involving young rats. They, too experienced metabolic changes, oxidative stress, and inflammation after consuming fructose syrup.

The researchers note that “increased fructose intake may be an important predictor of metabolic risk in young people.”

They call for changes in the diets of young people to prevent these problems.

Avoiding high-fructose corn syrup

Foods that contain high-fructose corn syrup include:

  • sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks
  • candy and ice cream
  • coffee creamer
  • sauces and condiments, including salad dressings, ketchup, and barbecue sauce
  • sweetened foods, such as yogurt, juices, and canned foods
  • bread and other ready-made baked goods
  • breakfast cereal, cereal bars, and “energy” or “nutrition” bars

To reduce your intake of corn syrup and other additives:

  • check the labels before you buy
  • opt for unsweetened or less processed items where possible
  • make salad dressings and bake other products at home

Some foods contain other sweeteners, but these can also have adverse effects.

5) Medications and weight gain

Some medications can also lead to weight gain.

Results of a review and meta-analysis published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2015 found that some medicines caused people to gain weight over a period of months.

  • atypical antipsychotics, especially olanzapine, quetiapine, and risperidone
  • anticonvulsants and mood stabilizers, and specifically gabapentin
  • hypoglycemic medications, such as tolbutamide
  • glucocorticoids used to treat rheumatoid arthritis
  • some antidepressants

However, some medications may lead to weight loss. Anyone who is starting a new medication and is concerned about their weight should ask their doctor whether the drug is likely to have any effect on weight.

6) Is obesity self-perpetuating?

The longer a person is overweight, the harder it may be for them to lose weight.

Findings of a mouse study, published in the journal Nature Communications in 2015, suggested that the more fat a person carries, the less likely the body is to burn fat, because of a protein, or gene, known as sLR11.

It seems that the more fat a person has, the more sLR11 their body will produce. The protein blocks the body’s ability to burn fat, making it harder to shed the extra weight.

7) Obesity gene

A faulty gene called the fat-mass and obesity-associated gene (FTO) is responsible for some cases of obesity.

A study published in 2013 points to a link between this gene and:

  • obesity
  • behaviors that lead to obesity
  • a higher food intake
  • a preference for high-calorie foods
  • an impaired ability to feel full, known as satiety

The hormone ghrelin plays a crucial role in eating behavior. Ghrelin also affects the release of growth hormones and how the body accumulates fat, among other functions.

The activity of the FTO gene might impact a person’s chances of having obesity because it affects the amounts of ghrelin a person has.

In a study involving 250 people with eating disorders, published in Plos One in 2017, researchers suggested that aspects of FTO might also play a role in conditions, such as binge eating and emotional eating.

Takeaway

Many factors play a role in the development of obesity. Genetic traits can increase the risk in some people.

A healthful diet that contains plenty of fresh food, together with regular exercise, will reduce the risk of obesity in most people.

However, those that have a genetic predisposition may find it harder to maintain a healthy weight.

Yoga keeps the mind and body young, 22 clinical trials show

A review analyzing the results of 22 randomized clinical trials has found that yoga practice can improve many aspects of physical and mental health among older adults.

Yoga can be an effective option for older adults who want to maintain good physical and mental health. Yoga refers to a series of mind-body practices that originate in Hindu tradition.However, they are growing in popularity across the world as an alternative well-being practice. Statistic show that in 2015 in the United States alone, as many as 36.7 million people practiced yoga, and by 2020, estimates suggest that this number will have increased to over 55 million people. This is an amazing for population’s general health

People who practice yoga often share anecdotes regarding its beneficial effect on their mental and physical health. Intrigued by such reports, some scientists set out to verify whether the benefits are real.

Indeed, some studies have found that different yoga practices are able to improve a person’s general sense of well-being, as well as various aspects of their physical health.

For example, a series of studies from 2017 suggested that people who joined a yoga program experienced lower levels of anxiety and depression.

A study from 2016 found that practicing yoga correlated with a lower risk of cognitive impairment in older adults, and research from earlier this year concluded that 8 weeks of intense yoga practice reduced the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Now, investigators at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom have conducted a review, analyzing the findings of 22 randomized and cluster-randomized clinical trials that assessed the benefits of yoga practice for healthy older adults.

The trials considered the effects of varied yoga programs — with program durations between 1 and 7 months and individual session durations between 30 and 90 minutes — on both mental and physical well-being.

‘Yoga has great potential’ to improve health

In the review, which features as an open access article in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, the researchers conducted statistical analysis to assess the combined findings of the 22 trials. They compared the benefits associated with yoga with those of other light physical activities, such as walking and chair aerobics. The team found that among people with a mean age of 60 years or over, practicing yoga — compared with not engaging in physical activity — helped improve their physical balance, flexibility of movement, and limb strength. It also reduced depression, improved sleep quality, and boosted their vitality.

Also, the researchers noticed that older adults who practiced yoga perceived their own physical and mental health to be satisfactory.

When compared with other light physical activities, such as walking, yoga seemed to more effectively improve older adults’ lower body strength, enhance their lower body flexibility, and reduce their symptoms of depression.

A large proportion of older adults are inactive and do not meet the balance and muscle strengthening recommendations set by government and international health organizations.

However, yoga can be an easy, adaptable, and attractive form of physical activity, and since the evidence suggesting that it can be beneficial for health is building up, joining a yoga program could be a good option for older adults looking to stay in shape — both physically and mentally.

Based on this study, we can conclude that yoga has great potential to improve important physical and psychological outcomes in older adults. Yoga is a gentle activity that can be modified to suit those with age-related conditions and diseases.

Synthetic CBD may be a safe treatment for seizures

A nonintoxicating form of cannabidiol that chemists can make from inexpensive noncannabis ingredients can treat seizures just as effectively as herbal cannabidiol, according to recent research in rats.

The chemical structure of the synthetic cannabidiol (CBD), which has the name 8,9-dihydrocannabidiol (H2CBD), is similar to that of the CBD that occurs naturally in the plant Cannabis sativa.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) and the University of Reading in the United Kingdom have shown that H2CBD can be just as effective as cannabis-derived CBD in treating rats with chemically-induced seizures.

In a Scientific Reports paper on the study, the investigators describe how both compounds reduced the severity and frequency of seizures to the same extent.

“[H2CBD is] a much safer drug than CBD with no abuse potential and doesn’t require the cultivation of hemp,” says lead study author Mark Mascal, who is a professor in the Department of Chemistry at UC Davis.

He and his colleagues explain that the use of cannabis as a “treatment of last resort for some cases of refractory epilepsy” was one of the most pressing medical arguments for legalizing marijuana.

According to the most recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 3.4 million people, including 470,000 children, with epilepsy in the United States in 2015.

People have used cannabis to treat seizures for hundreds of years.

However, it was only just over 20 years ago that scientists discovered the endocannabinoid system, and how its interaction with cannabis compounds affected nerve cells in the brain.

Of the 100 or so cannabis compounds that interact with the endocannabinoid system, there are two major players: delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and its less intoxicating relative, CBD.

Because of the intoxicating effects of THC, medical research on the therapeutic use of the compounds has tended to concentrate on CBD, which does not “cause a high.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have approved an extract of herbal, or plant-derived, CBD for the treatment of certain seizure conditions.

Advantages of synthetic over herbal CBD

However, herbal CBD is not without its disadvantages. The researchers discuss these, and the benefits of an effective synthetic CBD, in their study paper.

A disadvantage of herbal CBD is that because it comes from cannabis, many countries class it as a controlled substance. On the other hand, because H2CBD is synthetic, its use could avoid many of the legal problems that generally arise with trying to use cannabis products.

Using CBD from cannabis also requires land to grow the cannabis plants, which brings “attendant social and environmental concerns,” write the authors.

In contrast, chemists can synthesize H2CBD in the laboratory using inexpensive, noncannabis chemicals. They can also purify H2CBD more easily than plant-extracted CBD.

Also, it is not difficult for people to convert herbal CBD into THC, and the chemicals for doing it are readily available. However, as Prof. Mascal explains, “there is no way to convert H2CBD to intoxicating THC.”

The team is already planning animal studies to evaluate H2CBD, after which, they intend to move rapidly into clinical trials.

UC Davis have also applied for a provisional patent for the use of H2CBD and derivatives in the treatment of seizures. Prof. Mascal, in the meantime, has set up a private company to press on with developing the drug.

What to expect during IUD insertion

An intrauterine device or IUD is a small T-shaped device that a doctor or nurse can implant into the uterus to prevent pregnancy.

It is among the most effective forms of reversible birth control with a failure rate of less than 1%. The insertion is a minor medical procedure that only takes a few minutes.

Research has shown that while women report insertion experiences that range from painless to extremely painful, the procedure is usually less painful than they expected.

In this article, learn about what to expect during an IUD insertion. We also cover the side effects and recovery.

Preparation

Before getting an IUD, a person can speak to their doctor about which type is best for them. IUDs come in two forms:

  • The copper IUD: This version of the device kills sperm, preventing it from fertilizing an egg.
  • The hormonal IUD: This type of device releases progestin, which is very similar to progesterone, a hormone the body manufactures itself.

Progestin can prevent ovulation, which means there is no egg for the sperm to fertilize. It also thickens cervical mucus, making it more difficult for sperm to travel to the egg if the body does ovulate.

Hormonal IUDs may help with some premenstrual and hormonal symptoms, such as heavy bleeding or period cramps.

Copper IUDs do not offer any benefit other than contraception, so doctors do not usually recommend them for people who already experience heavy bleeding or severe cramps during menstruation.

IUDs are safe for most people to use. However, those who are allergic to copper should not use a copper IUD.

An IUD can prevent unwanted pregnancy but cannot protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

People should not use an IUD if they have had any of the following:

  • abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • vaginal or cervical cancer
  • a recent pelvic infection or STI

Women who are pregnant or want to become pregnant should not get an IUD, although it is safe to get an IUD soon after childbirth.

In some people, progestin increases the risk of blood clots in the leg or high blood pressure, so it is vital to tell the doctor about any cardiovascular or other health problems.

Many people worry about pain during an IUD insertion. However, a recent study found that women’s self-reported pain, following IUD insertion, was significantly lower than the pain they expected to experience.

Some research suggests that anxiety before the procedure can make insertion feel more painful. Working with an empathetic doctor or nurse, who is willing to take time to discuss the procedure and offer reassurance, may help.

A person may wish to consider asking a doctor what previous experience they have of inserting IUDs. Similarly, they can tell the doctor if they are feeling nervous about what is going to happen.

Some people report that taking over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication, such as ibuprofen, before the procedure helps reduce pain afterward.

During the procedure

During the procedure, a person will remove their undergarments and other clothing from the waist down. They will then lie on their back, usually with their legs in stirrups. A doctor or nurse will offer a sheet to cover the thighs to help a person feel more comfortable and less exposed.

The doctor will first conduct a pelvic exam using the fingers, then cleanse the vagina and base of the cervix with an antiseptic solution.

They will then insert a speculum into the vagina to separate the walls, enabling them to see better. Using a small instrument, they will insert the IUD into the uterus through a small opening in the cervix.

Some people experience cramping similar to or sometimes more intense than menstrual cramps. If the pain feels unusual or unbearable, the person must tell the doctor. The whole process usually takes only a few minutes.

After the insertion

Some people feel dizzy or faint after an IUD insertion, so it can be a good idea to have someone accompany them for the journey home.

It is usually safe to return to work or school right away. However, if a person is feeling intense pain or cramping, they may wish to rest for a day.

Following insertion of an IUD, it is normal to notice some spotting. According to Planned Parenthood, spotting can last up to 3–6 months.

The individual should ask the doctor how long to wait before having unprotected sex. IUDs cannot prevent STIs, so it is important to practice safer sex with new or untested partners.

Aftercare

One of the main benefits of an IUD is that it requires no special care. In the days following insertion, it is common to experience some cramping and spotting. OTC medication can help reduce these symptoms. Any pain should disappear in a few days.

The IUD attaches to a string that enables a doctor or nurse to remove the device. Some women can feel the string with their fingers. It is best to leave it alone. The string is not dangerous but pulling it could move or even remove the IUD.

If the string causes irritation or if a partner can feel the string during sex, a person can ask a doctor to trim it.

In rare cases, an IUD can come out on its own. If this happens, it is possible for the person to become pregnant. Anyone whose IUD has fallen out should call a doctor and not have unprotected sex.

Side effects

Copper and hormonal IUDs can cause side effects, although these usually resolve after a few months.

Side effects of the hormonal IUD can include:

  • spotting
  • missed periods or no periods
  • headaches
  • bloating
  • nausea
  • breast tenderness
  • changes in breast size
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • low libido
  • weight gain

Not everyone experiences side effects or all of the above that doctors associate with IUDs.

Side effects of the copper IUD can include:

  • pain and cramping
  • a backache
  • long and heavy periods
  • irregular periods
  • spotting

Complications with an IUD are relatively rare, but can include:

  • the IUD falling out
  • problems associated with the hormonal IUD, such as changes in blood pressure or blood clotting.
  • an ectopic pregnancy, or pregnancy outside of the uterus
  • infection following insertion
  • pelvic inflammatory disease, if a person already has an infection before the IUD insertion
  • damage to the uterus

People with a history of cardiovascular disease, those who smoke, and those who are over 35 years old are more likely to have complications from a hormonal IUD.

It is a myth that IUDs can travel to other areas of the body, such as the brain or lungs.

Removal

IUDs can prevent pregnancy for 3 to 12 years and sometimes longer. It is possible to remove the IUD at any time.

During removal, a nurse or doctor will ask a person to lie on their back and put their feet in stirrups.

They will insert a speculum to open the vagina and then gently tug on the IUD string. This causes the IUD to fold and pass through the cervix. A person may experience cramping during removal, but the procedure only takes a few minutes.

Sometimes the IUD is harder to remove. If this happens, a doctor might use smaller instruments to take it out. Very rarely, if an IUD is stuck, a person may require surgery to remove it.

When to see a doctor

People should see a doctor if the following symptoms appear shortly after IUD insertion:

  • a fever above 101°F
  • chills
  • intense or unbearable cramping
  • strong, sharp pain in the stomach
  • very heavy bleeding

Call a doctor for these symptoms at any time after insertion:

  • a missed period with a copper IUD
  • a positive home pregnancy test
  • an IUD that falls out or seems to be coming through the cervix

Summary

An IUD is an excellent option for people who want long-term birth control without remembering to take pills, receive injections, or use condoms.

As with any birth control, IUDs offer both benefits and risks. If a person is unsure about whether it is the right choice for them, they can speak to a doctor to discuss their concerns.

The IUD insertion can be uncomfortable or painful for some people, but the pain usually passes. It may also cause some side effects as the body gets used to the new device.

It is best to speak with a doctor about any side effects if these interfere with a person’s overall well-being or quality of life.

7 Signs and symptoms of colon cancer in men

The digestive system is complex, which makes the symptoms of colon cancer difficult to catch. As a result, it is vital to attend regular colon cancer screenings.

Colon cancer, which is also called colorectal cancer, is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women in the United States. For men, the overall risk of developing colon cancer is about one in 22, which equates to 4.49 percent.

Many symptoms can indicate colon cancer, but if someone has these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that they have this disease. There are many other explanations for the symptoms, such as infections or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

However, anyone experiencing new symptoms may wish to visit a doctor for a diagnosis.

The symptoms of colon cancer are the same in men and women and include the following:

1. Changes in bowel habits

An upset stomach or a minor infection can often cause changes in the bowels, such as constipation, diarrhea, or very narrow, thin stools. However, these issues usually resolve within a few days as the illness subsides. Changes in the bowels that last more than a few days may be a sign of an underlying health issue. If a person has these symptoms regularly or for longer than a few days, they should see a doctor.

2. Cramps and bloating

Occasional cramps or bloating are common digestive issues that can occur due to an upset stomach, gas, or eating certain foods.

Experiencing frequent, unexplained cramps and bloating can be a sign of colon cancer, though these symptoms are more often the result of other health issues.

3. Feeling as though the bowels are not empty

If a growth turns into a blockage in the colon, it may cause the person to feel as though they can never empty their bowels. Even if their bowels are empty, they will still feel the need to use the restroom again.

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4. Blood in the stool

Seeing blood in the stool can be frightening. The stool may have streaks of fresh red blood, or the whole stool may have a darker, tarry appearance.

There are many other possible causes of bloody stools, such as hemorrhoids. However, anyone experiencing blood in their stool should still see a doctor for a diagnosis.

5. Unexplained weight loss

Suddenly and unexpectedly losing weight is a sign of several types of cancer. Unintentionally losing 10 pounds or more within 6 months may be a sign to report to a doctor. In people with cancer, the weight loss may be due to cancer cells consuming more of the body’s energy. The immune system is also working hard to fight the cancer cells. If the tumor is large, it may lead to blockages in the colon, which can cause bowel changes and further weight loss.

6. Fatigue

People with colon cancer may feel constant fatigue or weakness, possibly due to the cancer cells using extra energy and the stress of bowel symptoms. Although feeling tired now and then is normal, chronic fatigue does not go away with rest.

Chronic fatigue is generally a symptom of an underlying condition. Anyone experiencing fatigue should see a doctor to help determine the cause.

7. Shortness of breath

Once cancer begins to drain energy from the body and fatigue sets in, it is common for people to experience related symptoms, such as shortness of breath.

They may find it difficult to catch their breath or might become winded very quickly from something as simple as walking a short distance or laughing.

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Risk factors

African-Americans have a higher risk of developing colon cancer than people from other ethnic backgrounds.

Some factors may increase a person’s risk of developing colon cancer, including:

  • a personal history of digestive issues, such as colorectal polyps or IBD
  • a family history of polyps or colorectal cancer
  • some inherited gene mutations, such as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC)
  • getting older
  • having type 2 diabetes
  • some ethnic backgrounds, including being African American or Ashkenazi Jewish

It is not possible to prevent cancer in all cases, but making lifestyle changes to eliminate some risk factors may help a person reduce their likelihood of developing colon cancer.

Diet

As the American Cancer Society (ACS) note, a diet that is high in red meat or processed meat products increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

These foods include:

  • beef
  • pork
  • lamb
  • venison
  • liver
  • hot dogs
  • deli cuts
  • luncheon meat

Cooking meats at very high temperatures, such as on the grill or in a broiler or deep fryer, releases carcinogenic chemicals. These chemicals may also increase the risk of a person getting colon cancer, though the relationship between meat cooking methods and cancer is still unclear.

Weight

Being overweight or having obesity increases a person’s risk of developing or dying from colon cancer.According to the ACS, the link between obesity and colorectal cancer also seems to be stronger in men. Losing weight can help reduce the risk. 

Inactivity

Being physically inactive increases the risk of developing colon cancer. Staying active by doing even light workouts each day may help reduce this risk.

Alcohol use

People who drink heavily or regularly may also be putting themselves at greater risk of colon cancer. Men should limit their drinking to no more than two drinks per day.

Smoking

People who smoke are more likely to develop or die from colon cancer than those who do not. Smoking cigarettes also increases the risk of many other types of cancer.

Treatment

Surgery is a common treatment for colon cancer.

Colon cancer is highly treatable and often curable if the diagnosis takes place at an early stage when the cancer is only in the bowel and has not spread to other areas of the body.

Surgery is the most common first-line treatment for colon cancer, and it has a cure rate of about 50 percent.

A surgeon will remove the cancerous growth and any nearby lymph nodes as well as a section of healthy tissue surrounding the growth. They will then reconnect the healthy parts of the bowel.

Many early forms of colon cancer do not require further treatment.

If the cancer is advanced, surgeons may need to remove more of the colon, and if the disease reaches too low into the rectum, the surgeon may remove this part of the large intestine.

Sometimes, doctors recommend chemotherapy to people who may have a higher risk of recurring tumors.

When to see a doctor

In most cases, digestive symptoms do not indicate cancer. However, if the symptoms are unusual, appear more regularly, or steadily get worse, it is best to see a doctor as there is no other way to diagnose these issues.

Even if the underlying cause is not colon cancer, the doctor may be able to identify and diagnose a separate disorder for which they can recommend treatment.

Many people with colon cancer do not show any early symptoms so experiencing symptoms can be a sign that the cancer is growing or spreading. The ACS recommend that men and women with an average risk of colon, or colorectal, cancer begin screening at the age of 45 years. Doctors can diagnose and treat colon cancer in the early stages if a person regularly attends screenings.

Outlook

Anyone who notices new, unexplained digestive symptoms or is uncertain about their symptoms should see a doctor.

Early screening and diagnosis are crucial in people with colon cancer. When doctors diagnose colon cancer before it spreads, the 5-year relative survival rate is 92 percent. However, survival rates are lower among people who do not get a diagnosis until a later stage.