Month: October 2017

Handwashing: Don’t Swish and Go!

Hand WashingWe have all watched someone quickly rinse their hands in a restroom and rush out the door—or skip the sink altogether. Body fluids and viruses are invisible to the naked eye, but these germs are everywhere. They contaminate commonly touched surfaces like handles, doors, walls, counters and paper dispensers.

To help your family avoid the flu, there is no substitute for handwashing. Disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers also work well, although they don’t remove dirt and grime.

Handwashing is one of the most effective ways to stop disease.

Wash your hands often: always before eating or preparing food, and always after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.

  • Soap and water work well to kill germs. Rub your hands briskly.
  • How long? At least 20 seconds—try humming “Happy Birthday” through twice.
  • Most people miss the backs of the fingers and thumbs … fingertips … the creases in the palms.
  • Use a paper towel to turn off faucets and to open the door.

With flu season here, give your hands the soapy wash they deserve. Take two minutes to safeguard your health—and wash your hands!

Halloween Tricks for Your Treats

By Christy Goff, Registered Dietitian

Halloween CandyHalloween night is exciting and fun … but then comes the sugar hangover the next day, week or even month! Let me share with you some tips and tricks for navigating that large pot of candy so you can have a healthier start to the holidays this year.

1.  Make a plan. Creating a plan with structure for you and your children keeps everyone on track. Some parents plan to indulge on Halloween night and then throw or give the rest away, while others put the candy bounty into plastic bags to have better portion control over the days that follow. Make your plan clear to your children as soon as you start talking about costumes and then stick to the plan throughout the holiday.

2.  Always eat a balanced dinner before trick-or-treating. This will reduce the chance that hunger will dictate the amount of sweets you will indulge in later on.Teaching yourselves and children about balance while allowing room for treats is an important conversation to have throughout the whole year to maintain a positive relationship with food choices.

3.  Understand portion sizes.Typically children should have no more than 1-2 pieces of candy per day and they should be given the candy with a meal to ensure the intake of healthy nutrients in addition. Even better, let them pick the meal they get to eat it at. Keep the candy in a special place so the kids can see it, but is not accessible easily, such as the top of the fridge or high counter. If there is just too much candy to manage, try using the rest as an art design, a lesson in sharing with others or throw it away.

4.  Don’t deny treats or use them as a reward. Typically prohibiting treats or using them as a reward causes the desire for sweets to grow even more, especially if they are forced to do something they don’t want to do like clean, eat their veggies etc.Your child will to learn to manage sweets better if they are given in the same meal and treated the same as any other foods.Go back to your plan and decide what works best for your family to allow treats in moderation.

5.  Enjoy the night! Focus on celebrating the holiday and spending time with family and friends.Remember that a balanced diet is created over time and all foods can be enjoyed in moderation, including treats.

For more information about Halloween treats and good health, visit the Ellyn Satter Institute.

Safety on Halloween Night

It’s a dark night, and groups of frantically excited kids in costumes are darting along sidewalks, bouncing off the curbs. They are excited to be hauling in candy. What could possibly go wrong?

Forget about vampires. You should be worried about cars. The Seattle Police Department recommends on its website that kids take flashlights out trick-or-treating. Remind your kids how tough it is for drivers to see at night, especially at dusk. And, of course, tell them not to weave between parked cars to get across the street. The candy will wait!

Make sure costumes are visible and that your child can see well. Make sure masks and big hair are clear of the eyes—and stay that way when jumping and running. Have a Batman, witch or other black-clad character in your group? Add a flashlight, glow sticks, glow jewelry or reflective tape.

Rethink trailing hemlines and large swords. They can be tripping hazards … and as the evening wears on, they aren’t much fun if your child is having trouble keeping up with friends! Warn your child, too, about candles in jack-o-lanterns. If costumes get too close, they can catch fire.

Keep big plastic bags away from small children who are out trolling for candy. If pulled over the face or head, they are a suffocation hazard. For treats, use a plastic pumpkin container or a cloth bag.

Nutrition for Cancer Prevention

According to the National Cancer Institute, dietary factors are thought to be the cause for about 30% of cancers in Western countries. Fortunately, diet is one of the cancer risk factors you have the power to alter. Read on to learn how foods in your daily diet can lower your potential risk of developing cancer.

Western countries have diets statistically high in animal products, fat and sugar—and also have high rates of colorectal, breast and prostate cancers, according to the National Institutes of Health. Being overweight or obese has also been seen to increase the risks of several common cancers. Nutrition guidelines for cancer prevention are similar to those for preventing other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Work with your primary care provider or a dietitian to gauge your overall dietary health.

Some nutrition and dietary factors to consider:

Fiber and other cancer-fighting nutrients. Studies show that fiber provides potential protective effects against cancer. While it is recommended to consume least 25-30 grams of fiber per day, the average U.S. citizen consumes only 10-15 grams. Fiber is found in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes. Other cancer-fighting substances in fruits and vegetables include carotenoids; beta-carotene, vitamins C, E, K; folate; flavones and indoles.

Aim to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, and make at least half your grains whole grains. A diet rich in these plant-based foods can also help you stay at a healthy weight.

Fat intake. Recent studies show an excessive consumption of fat affects cancer risks. The average U.S. diet contains about 37 percent fat. While the National Cancer Institute suggests lowering your intake to 30 percent, other studies find that dropping fat consumption well below 30 percent may have an anti-cancer effect.

Reduce your intake of foods with added sugars and solid fats, which provide a lot of calories but few nutrients. These foods include sugar-sweetened beverages, processed snack foods and desserts.

Meat. Certain cooking and processing techniques of meats may lead to an increased cancer risk. The processes of smoking, salting, adding nitrates or related compounds, and cooking at high temperatures can convert meats into carcinogenic compounds within the colon.

Your best bet is to limit processed meats and instead include a variety of whole-food-based protein such as fish, skinless poultry and lean cuts of pork and beef. Consider eating plant-based sources of protein such as beans more often.

Alcohol. Excessive intake of alcohol raises one’s risks for cancers of the breast, mouth, pharynx and esophagus, as well as potential stomach, liver and colon cancers. It is considered more harmful when combined with smoking.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends limiting alcoholic drinks—if consumed at all—to one serving daily for women and two for men. (A serving of alcohol is considered 1½ fluid ounces of hard liquor, 5 fluid ounces of wine or 12 fluid ounces of beer.)


Designing a Breast Cancer Prevention Strategy

How often should you have a screening? What should your prevention strategy be? October is Breast Cancer Awareness month—a perfect time to talk with your provider about a strategy for you.

About one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer, but due to great medical advances, around 80 percent will survive it. Still, breast cancer remains the second-deadliest cancer in women (after lung cancer). It is important to know your personal risk factors so you can take steps to reduce your risk.

Fortunately, this cancer is highly preventable. Read on for two important prevention steps. And of course, if you have questions, make an appointment with your primary care doctor to learn more.

Risk Factors

When deciding on your breast-cancer prevention and screening strategy, consider the following risk factors:

  • Being female and older age
  • Personal or family history of breast cancer, especially among close relatives
  • Early onset of menstruation
  • Later onset of menopause
  • Dense breasts (as learned after a mammogram)
  • History of breast health problems found in biopsies

Lifestyle factors play a moderate role in the development of breast cancer. Weight gain after menopause, working night shifts, alcohol use and several hormone-replacement therapies are known to increase the risk. On the other hand, having a baby before age 30, breastfeeding, regular exercise and a Mediterranean-like diet—rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and olive oil—all seem to aid in reducing the risk of developing breast cancer.


Despite the value of knowing your risks, many breast-cancer cases develop without obvious risk factors. This is why age-appropriate breast-cancer screenings are essential for all women.

The best approach to breast cancer detection is regular mammograms.

  • Mammograms should be performed every 1-2 years beginning at age 40, based upon discussion with your provider.
  • If you’re over age 75, the benefits of mammograms are less certain.
  • Breast self-exams are a good practice. Knowing how your breasts normally look and feel can help you be aware of changes, which you can share with your healthcare provider. Finding a change doesn’t necessarily mean there is cancer.

If you have a family history, talk with your doctor about testing for hereditary cancer syndromes, such as BRCA gene mutations.

PacMed offers several options for primary care providers, an excellent place to begin a conversation about breast cancer prevention. Learn about our Primary Care team. We also invite you to explore our Women’s Health offerings and our Oncology department.