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Dr. Sunil Gandhi, Cancer & Blood Disease, 01/01/13

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New Year’s resolutions

By Dr. Sunil Gandhi

It is New Year’s Day and we are all excited about it. It brings new hope, new expectations and new resolutions. New Year’s Day has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year.

It’s a time to reflect on the changes we want (or need) to make and resolve to follow through on those changes.

This year I am going to suggest some New Year’s resolutions, which can help improve your health and cut down on the risk of cancer.

1. Lose weight: Obesity accounts for one in seven cancers in the United States and it also increases the risk for diabetes, high blood pres­sure, heart attacks, etc. Obesity is calculated by Body Mass Index or BMI and try to keep it below 25.

2. Eat healthy: Try to eat five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Servings are small size, e.g. one small apple may make one serving. Limit intake of red meat and processed meat. Choose whole grains over processed (refined) grains.

3. Exercise: As per the American Cancer Society, engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, above usual activities, on five or more days of the week; 45 to 60 minutes of intentional physical activity are preferable. This helps as follows:

+ Help control weight.

+ Maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.

+ Reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and diabetes.

+ Promote psychological well-being.

+ Reduce the risk of death from heart disease.

4. Smoking: Smoking is the commonest cause of cancer. It causes many cancers including lung, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, bladder, stomach, cervix, kidney and pancreas, and acute myeloid leukemia. It also damages the lungs and heart. Therefore, all smokers should try this year to quit smoking. If you are nonsmoker, avoid secondhand smoke.

5. Alcohol: If you do not drink alcohol, do not start it for health benefits. If you drink it, drink no more than one drink per day for women or two per day for men.

6. Screening: In general, the earlier we detect cancer, the more curable it is. For women, regular mammograms and pap smears are very important. There is some controversy about screening PSA in men. Both men and women should get a colonoscopy after the age of 50. If you are a smoker or you quit smoking recently (less than the past 15 to 20 years), recent recommendations suggest screening spiral low dose CT scan of the lungs once a year. Please make a resolution that you will follow all current screening guidelines for cancer. You can learn this in detail from the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org/Healthy/FindCancerEarly/CancerScreeningGuidelines/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer.

These are some suggestions for New Year’s resolutions. Some are easy and some may not be easy. All of these help improve health and cut down risk of cancer. Please consider them.

Dr. Sunil Gandhi is a hematologist and oncologist. He is volunteer medical adviser of the Citrus Unit of American Cancer Society. Write to 521 N. Lecanto Highway, Lecanto, FL 34461, email sgandhi@tampabay.rr.com or call 352-746-0707.