Last summer, we wrote about the Ice Bucket Challenge in support of the ALS Association. This year, a young Bruins fan’s viral video has launched a new awareness campaign. Liam Fitzgerald, 8 years old, was seen fist-bumping Boston Bruins players during their warm-up last November, and captured the hearts of hockey fans around the nation. In 2011, Liam “kicked cancer’s butt,” and is now working on raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with his own “Fist Bump Challenge.” Less bracing than a bucket of ice water, Liam’s campaign asks people to post pictures or videos of themselves fist bumping each other on social media and donating $5—$1 for each finger and thumb—and then nominating five more people to participate in the challenge.

Leukemia is a cancer that affects blood and bone marrow and develops when blood cells produced in the bone marrow grow out of control. It’s estimated that over 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with leukemia every year and 24,000 die from the disease annually.

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The National Institute of Cancer says that colorectal cancer is cancer that forms in the colon or rectum in both men and women. It is the third most common non-skin cancer and is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. To help raise awareness of this deadly but highly preventable disease, March has been designated Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Screening is the most effective way to reduce one’s risk of colorectal cancer; it is preventable and, if caught early, treatable. Risk increases with age, so people over 50 years old are encouraged to get screened. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a variety of tests, from a stool test once a year to a sigmoidoscopy every three to five years and/or colonoscopy every 10 years. Despite the risks, 1 in 3 adults ages 50-75 are still not getting screened as recommended. Healthy lifestyle choices, such as being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, not drinking alcohol to excess and being smoke-free can also lower your risk for colorectal cancer.

With

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February is American Heart Month. With over 67 million Americans with high blood pressure, one’s awareness can save lives.  High blood pressure can present with no symptoms, making it important to check regularly and to set a goal with their doctor if they find their BP is too high. People with high blood pressure are four times more likely to die from a stroke and 3 times more likely to die from heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Americans.

In a previous blog post we discussed heart health in young men, but it is equally important for women. High blood pressure, smoking, and high LDL cholesterol are key factors of heart disease, but other conditions such as diabetes or obesity also put people at a higher risk. To decrease your risk, don’t smoke, make healthy food choices, limit alcohol intake, lower your stress level and find healthy ways to cope with stress. If prescribed, be sure to take blood pressure medicine as directed.

NeedyMeds’ Disease Information Page for Heart

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January is National Cervical Health Awareness Month. With all women being at risk for cervical cancer, it’s important to be mindful of the health risks, symptoms, and resources available to those in need. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year, and about 4000 women die from it annually.

The main cause of cervical cancer is human papillomavirus (HPV), a common virus that can be passed between people during sex. HPV is so common that most people will have it at some point during their lives without ever developing symptoms. About 90% of cases are cleared naturally by the immune system within two years; however, there is no way of knowing which individuals will go on to develop health problems. Some strains of HPV can cause warts around genitals or in one’s throat, while others can cause normal cells in the body to turn abnormal—possibly leading to cancer over time. Other factors that can

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