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Health Capsules: March 6

Watching a lot of TV linked to higher colorectal cancer risk

Sedentary habits like daily TV watching may increase adults’ risk of getting colorectal cancer at younger ages.

As the nation marks Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March, Washington University School of Medicine researchers have just published a new study showing that younger people who spend a lot of time on their couches watching TV may be at increased risk of early-onset colorectal cancers.

While the incidence of colorectal cancer has decreased dramatically among adults over 50 in recent years, largely due to better screening, it is on the rise among younger Americans – and the medical community does not yet understand why. Earlier onset colorectal cancers also tend to be more aggressive and found at later stages than those in older patients, resulting in less favorable outcomes and more loss of life.

The Wash U researchers specifically compared data on average daily TV viewing time with diagnoses of colorectal cancers in under-50 adults, using information from more than 89,000 American women participating in the long-term Nurses’ Health Study II. They found that more than one hour of sedentary TV viewing time every day was associated with a 12 percent increased risk of cancer, compared with those who watched less than an hour. The results were far more dramatic for those who watched more than two hours each day, who had a nearly 70 percent increase in risk.

The relationship between time spent watching TV and early cancer held regardless of individual exercise levels and body mass index [BMI], and was consistently seen among women with no family history of colorectal cancer. The association was also more pronounced for rectal cancer compared to colon cancer.

“This study may help identify those at high risk and who might benefit more from early screening,” said Yin Cao, assistant professor of surgery and a study co-author. “The fact that these results were independent of BMI and physical activity suggests that being sedentary may be an altogether distinct risk factor for young-onset colorectal cancer.”

On the calendar

Babysitting 101 class is offered by BJC of St. Charles County on Saturday, March 9 from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at Progress West Hospital, 2 Progress Point Parkway in O’Fallon, in Conference Room B. This class is a great introduction to the basics of babysitting; topics include the business of babysitting, child development, safety and first aid, and fun and games. A workbook, backpack and light snack are provided. The course fee is $30 per child. Advance registration is required by calling (636) 344-5437.

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BJC of St. Charles County offers free Know Your Numbers health screenings on Thursday, March 21 from 7:30-9:30 a.m. at Progress West Hospital, 2 Progress Point Parkway in O’Fallon. These screenings for adults include fasting glucose, cholesterol, lung function, blood pressure and BMI measurements; participants should fast for at least 10 hours prior to screening. To register, visit bjcstcharlescounty.org/Events.

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BJC offers Staying Home Alone course on Saturday, March 23 from 9–10:30 a.m. at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, 10 Hospital Drive in St. Peters, in Medical Office Building 1, Suite 117. This parent-child program helps determine the child’s readiness – physically, mentally, socially and emotionally – to stay home by themselves and prepares them for this experience. Parent and child workbooks are included. The course fee is $25 per family. Registration is required by calling (636) 344-5437.

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St. Luke’s Hospital and Dierbergs Markets co-sponsor Learn to Shop for a Healthier You on Wednesday, March 27 from 6:30-8 p.m. at Dierbergs Bogey Hills Plaza, 2021 Zumbehl Road in St. Charles. Join a St. Luke’s dietitian for a store tour that will focus on how to make better choices, read labels and plan meals. Tour will meet at the store’s School of Cooking. The cost is $5, but all participants will receive a $5 Dierbergs gift card at the end of the tour. To register, visit Dierbergs.com or call (314) 238-0440.

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The St. Charles City-County Library Foundation sponsors a free Grow Your Reader program on Wednesday, April 17 from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, 10 Hospital Drive in St. Peters, in Medical Office Building 1, Suite 117. Parents and children ages 0-5 can learn simple strategies to help prepare your child to become a successful reader and learner through reading, writing, talking, singing and playing every day. Registration is required by visiting bjcstcharlescounty.org/Events.

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