Bottoms up: “My doctor said I need what?!”

Screening for colorectal cancer: It’s time to stop avoiding the colonoscopy

colonscreen.fwWe’re all prone to the uncomfortable feeling that arises when a doctor mentions screening for colon or rectal cancers. Despite the unease surrounding this topic, it’s time to stop avoiding the colonoscopy and get screened! There are often no symptoms with colorectal cancer. You can’t feel a polyp, and very rarely will you see visible blood. For this reason, screening is the most effective way to be protected.

According to the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of U.S. cancer deaths in both men and women. Further, it is currently the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. That is why doctors recommend screenings, even though they may be embarrassing to discuss.

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or rectum, most often as a polyp, or a small piece of tissue that protrudes from the inner wall. Screenings help prevent colorectal cancer by finding precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they progress. Everyone needs screening because we are all at risk for colon cancer. If everyone got screened we could prevent up to 90% of colorectal cancers. Continue reading

Recipe: Mediterranean bean salad

Pack the perfect picnic with this heart-healthy side dish

dried-beans

Beans provide a range of nutrients and antioxidants, making Mediterranean Bean Salad a delicious way to improve heart health and lower your risk of colorectal cancer.

Make your Fourth of July celebration all about the side dishes with this recipe for a punchy bean salad. A variety of beans provide folate, iron, potassium, selenium and a range of antioxidants. Not just good for your heart, all legumes are rich in dietary fiber, which can help lower your risk for colorectal cancer. Flavorful herbs and a simple dressing of olive oil, vinegar and lemon make this a healthy addition to any picnic.

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Taming the flame: Grill safe this summer

flamegrillWe know eating healthy is important in fighting cancer. So how can you enjoy that summer cookout with friends and families without tossing healthy eating aside? Here are some tips on how to grill safe this summer.

Each year, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center dietitians field questions from patients about whether it’s safe to grill, given the evidence that grilled meats may contain cancer-causing agents. Guidelines from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) suggest that the type of food you grill may be more important than how you prepare it. Continue reading

Grill Safe This Memorial Day

We know eating healthy is important in fighting cancer. So how can you enjoy your Memorial Day cookout with friends and families without tossing healthy eating aside?

Each year, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center dietitians field questions from patients about whether it’s safe to grill, given the evidence that grilled meats may contain cancer-causing agents. But new guidelines from the American Institute for Cancer Research suggest that the type of food you grill may be more important than how you prepare it.

Hot dogs and hamburgers – the all-American summer standards – may be among the worst culprits in causing colorectal cancer. Research has shown a convincing link between diets high in processed meat and red meat – which includes beef, pork and lamb. Every 3.5 ounces of processed meat — about two hot dogs – increases the risk for colorectal cancer by 42%.

Given the data, we recommend our patients follow AICR guidelines. Limit the amount of red meat you eat. Think of it as an occasional indulgence. Make processed meats including hot dogs a treat for a special occasion – like an annual outing at the ballpark. Use these guidelines year-round to lower your risk.

And this summer, continue to use caution when grilling. All animal meats produce cancer-causing chemicals when they are seared at high temperatures — whether on a grill or on a conventional stove. It’s still unclear whether eating these chemicals will increase your cancer risk. But while researchers continue to learn more about whether there’s a link between grilling and cancer, you can protect yourself and still enjoy a backyard barbecue. Read on to learn strategies to limit your exposure.

Grilling tips

You know the blackened bits that cling to the meat? The stuff cooks love for its flavor? Well, unfortunately, that’s the stuff that contains all the toxins that may increase your cancer risk. Try not to eat it and consider these tips for limiting your exposure:

  • Chicken out. The most important thing you can do — whether you’re grilling or not — is limit red meats and processed meats that contain nitrates. Choose chicken or fish instead.
  • Marinate your meat. Research has shown that a marinade can reduce the formation of carcinogens by more than 90%.
  • Experiment with vegetables and fruits. Cancer-causing chemicals arise from grilling only animal tissue. Blackened bits on fruits and vegetables are harmless.
  • Scale back meat portions. Consider kabobs. It’s a great way to add fruits and vegetables while cutting back on meat.
  • Limit flare-ups that char food by selecting leaner meats or grilling on aluminum foil. If you use foil, punch small holes to allow the fat to drain.
  • Flip meat frequently to prevent it from getting too black.

The American Cancer Society also offers A Backyard Chef’s Guide to Healthy Grilling. For more safer options to serve on Memorial Day, or anytime, here are some great recipes. Share your favorite summertime recipes with us below.

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