National Health Check-Up
The first-ever Mayo Clinic National Health Check-Up has provided some insight on Americans’ opinions and behaviors regarding their health.
Conducted in December 2015, the Health Check-Up polled adults aged 18 and older.
Following are highlights of the findings:
• Most respondents said they face barriers to staying heathy, with work schedule cited as the No. 1 barrier [22 percent]. While men and women cited work as a leading barrier, women were more likely than men to cite caring for a child, spouse or parent.
• Asked about things they planned to do to improve their health in 2016, nearly three in four respondents said they intended to eat a healthier diet and exercise more. The other top response was to schedule an annual wellness visit with a doctor [66 percent of respondents].
• Women were more likely than men to say they planned to do something to improve their health in 2016: eat a healthier diet [80 percent vs. 67 percent]; schedule a wellness visit [70 percent vs. 62 percent]; get more sleep [67 percent vs. 58 percent]; see a doctor to discuss symptoms they have been experiencing [62 percent vs. 51 percent]; take a nutritional supplement [63 percent vs. 47 percent]; and schedule a milestone screening [56 percent vs. 26 percent].
• Seventy percent of those surveyed said they expect to age better than their parents, but those in their 30s were least optimistic, with only 56 percent saying they thought they would age better than their parents.
• The subject matter of health conversations with friends change as people age. Those in their 20s said they discuss healthy meal options; those in their 30s talk about maintaining a healthy weight and their parents’ health issues; 40-somethings talk about maintaining a healthy weight and their children’s health issues; and those in their 50s-80s tend to discuss their own health issues.
• At least one-third of respondents voiced optimism about cures for chronic diseases. Almost half [46 percent] were optimistic that in the next 10 years there will be a cure for diabetes, and 35 percent expressed optimism for a cancer cure in the next decade. Asked about cures in the next 20 years, many respondents were optimistic about ALS [38 percent], Parkinson’s disease [35 percent] and Alzheimer’s disease [34 percent].
Commenting on the findings, John T. Wald, M.D. medical director for Public Affairs at the Mayo Clinic, said it is concerning that so many men do not have plans to schedule a milestone screening, such as a colonoscopy.
“Men need to prioritize screenings as well, because early detection of disease can help improve chances of survival,” he said. “If they are of average risk, men should begin getting screened for colorectal and prostate cancer at age 50, and sooner if they are of above-average risk.”
Marijuana and migraines
A small study at the University of Colorado found medical marijuana was helpful in reducing the incidence of migraine headaches.
From 2010-2014, researchers treated with medical marijuana 121 patients who suffered from migraines. Most of the patients  reported a decrease in monthly migraines. Fifteen participants experienced no change in number of headaches, and three patients said they experienced an increase in the number of migraines.
“There was a substantial improvement for patients in their ability to function and feel better,” senior study author Laura Borgelt, a pharmacist, said. “Like any drug, marijuana has potential benefits and potential risks. It’s important for people to be aware that using medical marijuana can also have adverse effects.”
According to Borgelt, results of the study were “quite remarkable,” but more controlled studies are needed.
Younger colorectal cancer patients
It is recommended that adults begin screenings for colorectal cancer at age 50, but according to a report published in the American Cancer Society’s journal CANCER, a significant number of people have been diagnosed with the disease before reaching their 50th birthday. What’s more, younger patients are more likely to be diagnosed with advanced-stage disease.
Researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed data on more than 250,000 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer from 1998-2011 and found that nearly 15 percent – about one in seven – were younger than 50. The younger patients were more likely than older ones to have regional or distant disease, but younger people were treated more aggressively and enjoyed longer five-year survival rates than those diagnosed at 50 or older.
Research leader Samantha Hendren, M.D., said the findings should come as a wake-up call to doctors.
“In a practical sense, this means that we should look out for warning signs of colorectal cancer such as anemia, a dramatic change in the size or frequency of bowel movements, and dark blood or blood mixed with the stool in bowel movements,” Hendren said. “Also, people with a positive family history for colorectal cancer [in first-degree relatives such as parents or siblings] and some others who are at higher risk should begin screening earlier than 50. This is already recommended, but we don’t think this is happening consistently, and this is something we need to optimize.”
Top fitness trends
Wearable technology will be the hottest trend in fitness this year, according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s [ACSM)]annual fitness trend forecast.
To predict the top fitness trends of 2016, the ACSM tabulated results of surveys completed by more than 2,800 health and fitness professionals from around the world. The top 10 predicted trends are, in order, wearable technology; body weight training and high-intensity interval training [tie]; strength training; working with educated and experienced fitness professionals; personal training; functional fitness, i.e., using strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living; fitness programs for older adults; exercise and weight loss programs; and yoga.
Diet affects sleep quality
Insomniacs take note: What you eat might be keeping you from enjoying a good night’s sleep.
A new study linked a diet featuring greater fiber intake to more time in the stage of deep sleep. A diet featuring greater saturated fat was associated with less deep sleep, and greater sugar consumption was a predictor of awakening more often during the night.
“Our main finding was that diet quality influenced sleep quality,” said Marie-Pierre St. Onge, investigator at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. “It was most surprising that a single day of greater fat intake and lower fiber could influence sleep parameters.”
Further supporting the idea that a healthy diet affects sleep was the fact that on average, study participants who ate meals prepared by a nutritionist fell asleep 12 minutes faster than those who ate meals they selected themselves. The self-selected meals were higher in saturated fat and lower in protein.
Results of the study, “Fiber and Saturated Fat Are Associated with Sleep Arousals and Slow Wave Sleep,” were published this month in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.
Tanning for teens
The American Academy of Pediatrics [AAP] recently praised the U.S. Food and Drug Administration [FDA] for proposing that tanning bed use be prohibited for children younger than 18.
According to the AAP, there is no safe level of tanning bed use for young people, and research shows that beginning tanning before age 35 can increase the risk of developing melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 75 percent.
On the calendar
“Total Hip and Total Knee Replacement” is from 6-7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 15 at SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital, 400 Medical Plaza in Lake Saint Louis. The class is designed to help patients, their families and the general public learn more about total knee and total hip replacement surgeries. Registration is encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome. Call (314) 776-3627.