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  Health

Most men do not like to discuss prostate cancer, but should

—Bob Moos, Southwest public affairs officer/Centers for    Medicare & Medicaid Services
More than two million American men count them selves as prostate cancer survivors. Many have early detection and treatment to thank for their lives today.

Most men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer don’t like to talk about it. I’ve learned that from friends and family who have been through it. From what I’ve seen, support groups for men fighting prostate cancer aren’t as common as those for other diseases.

To their credit, women have raised everyone’s consciousness about breast cancer over the last 20 years. All of us now know what a pink ribbon means. But when it comes to prostate cancer, many men still are in denial. “It can’t happen to me,” they say. Then one day, it does.

One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his life. One in 36 will die of it. Other than skin cancer, it’s the most common cancer among American men. About 218,000 men in this country will be told sometime this year that they have prostate cancer.

The chance of getting prostate cancer goes up quickly after 50. Also, men with fathers or brothers who have had prostate cancer are more likely to get it themselves. And for reasons still unknown, prostate cancer is more prevalent among African American men.

Because we haven’t pinpointed the exact cause of prostate cancer, most cases can’t be prevented. But research suggests men may be able to reduce their risk of prostate cancer by eating less red meat and fat and eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Some men have symptoms that may indicate prostate cancer, such as blood in their urine, a need to urinate frequently, or a burning sensation while urinating. More often, though, possible signs of prostate cancer show up during a routine checkup.

Physicians use two types of screening―the PSA blood test and the digital rectal exam―to detect prostate cancer when there are no symptoms. Both can help catch the disease early, when treatment is likely to be more effective and have fewer side effects.

PSA is a substance made by the prostate. During a PSA test, blood is drawn from the arm, and the level of PSA is measured. Most healthy men have levels under four nanograms per milliliter. Usually, the chance of a prostate problem increases as the PSA level rises.

Still, your doctor is the best one to interpret your PSA test results. Many factors, such as age and race, can elevate PSA levels. So can prostate infections and certain medical procedures. And some prostate glands simply produce more PSA than others.

The blood test is typically combined with a digital rectal exam, when the doctor examines the prostate for any irregular or firm areas. Although these two screenings can’t diagnose prostate cancer, they can signal the need for a biopsy to take tissue samples.

Medicare covers both the PSA test and the digital rectal exam for all men with Medicare over 50. For the blood test, you pay nothing. For the rectal exam, you pay 20 percent of the Medicare-approved amount, after you’ve met your annual Part B deductible.

Medicare covers both the PSA test and the digital rectal exam once every 12 months. For more about how Medicare can help you take care of your health, visit www.medicare.gov, and download “Your Guide to Medicare’s Preventive Services,” or call (800) MEDICARE, and request a free copy.

Medical experts who encourage regular screening say all men who have a life expectancy of at least 10 years should be offered the two tests annually beginning at 50. They also suggest earlier testing for African-Americans and for men with fathers or brothers who have had prostate cancer.

On the other hand, there are experts who want more convincing evidence that regular screening saves lives. They say that some prostate cancer may not affect a man’s health and that treating it may cause temporary or long-lasting side effects, like impotence and incontinence.

Because of the divided opinions, the best advice is to visit with your doctor about the pros and cons of screening, so that you can decide what’s right for you. As uncomfortable as the topic may be, it’s a conversation definitely worth having.


What is that crunchy sound when I turn my neck?

—Dr. Mary Lou Skelton, Placitas Chiropractic
Am I just getting old? Will it always be this loud? Can other people hear it? The sounds are likely a result of a degenerative process in the ligaments, tendons, and joint spaces that can be slowed, reversed, and often resolved with posture, alignment, and exercise. Does this sound interesting? Well then, let’s look at some solutions.

First, stand in front of a mirror, facing forward and eyes closed (no cheating). OK—ready, set, go. Open your eyes, and notice the following:

     1. Are your ears level with each other?

     2. Are your shoulders level?

     3. Place your hands on your hips—are they level?

Many of us will have unevenness (one side higher than the other). This could be an anatomical difference or more likely a misalignment within the frame of the body, possibly the spine, extremities, or even the cranium.

A misaligned structural system creates problems for many of the integrated systems of the body, such as the nervous, neuromuscular, and connective tissue systems. The problems may create disorganization of body functions or inefficiency and wreak havoc with the normal functions of the body. The neuromuscular system is both interconnected and interdependent with all other systems of the body.

How do you take care of these structural problems? Corrections can easily be made by alignment, exercise, and chiropractic care.

Try this: Evaluate your posture as you look at yourself in the mirror, and observe your shoulders and hip levels—are they even? Now, stand straighter, and level the shoulders and hips; don’t be stiff—relax and breathe. Feel the changes in your posture. Do you feel better or rather uncomfortable when you attempt to level the ears, shoulders, and hips? 

Once you become familiar with good posture and feel a balance in your stance, you can reposition and correct your own posture several times throughout the day. To start this, look at yourself in a mirror from a front view (have level shoulders and hips) and from the side view (as if a plum line has been dropped from the ear to shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle) to have a balanced upright position, neither leaning forward or backward.

So for those funny neck crunchies, here’s an easy six-part neck exercise that can improve range of motion and help get rid of some sounds that happen when you turn your neck. I call these shower exercises. Each movement is a separate range of motion. Start with the head in neutral position—facing forward—and attempt to lift the head (it averages eight pounds) up off the neck (antigravity position); you can lift and lengthen it by imagining the head is filled with helium, and it is able to stretch up and off the neck.

     • Part 1 & 2: With the lengthened neck, comfortably rotate the head to the right, then back to neutral; lengthen the neck again, and rotate the head comfortably to the left, then back to neutral (holding only for 1-2 seconds on each range of motion).

     • Part 3 & 4: Lengthen the neck again, and flex the head forward, then back to neutral. Lengthen the neck again, extend the head backward, and return to the neutral position.

     • Part 5 & 6: Lengthen the neck, and gently laterally flex the head to the right and back to neutral, and then do the same to the left. Once you have returned to the neutral position, lift the shoulders once or twice up and then down and relax. This is a great exercise to improve the flexibility for the neck.

Alignment with gravity is a key component to health—continue to evaluate your body mechanics and posture, exercise the problem areas, and don’t forget to smile.


Understanding and preventing UTIs

—James N. Martin, Jr., M.D., President, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are a common problem that affect up to 60 percent of women. They can be painful and may cause serious illness, especially if the infection spreads to the kidneys.

UTIs usually occur when bacteria that live on the skin near the rectum or in the vagina enter the urinary tract. The urinary tract consists of four parts: the kidneys, which produce urine; the ureters, which take urine from the kidneys to the bladder; the bladder, where urine is stored; and the urethra, which takes urine out of the body. Sexual contact or wiping back to front can transport bacteria to the urethra. The bacteria can then spread to the bladder, ureters, and kidneys. UTIs may also be caused by a blockage (stone) in the kidneys, bladder, or ureters, a narrowed tube or kink in the urinary tract, or problems with the bladder wall, urethra, or pelvic muscles or nerves.

A UTI can cause a strong urge to urinate that cannot be delayed, an urge to urinate very frequently, or a sharp pain or burning in the urethra as you urinate. Your urine may look cloudy, have a strong odor, or be tinged with blood. Additionally, if you have back pain, chills, fever, nausea, or vomiting, the infection may have spread to your kidneys. Kidney infections must be treated right away. Contact your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

UTIs can be quickly diagnosed with a urine test. Your doctor will prescribe an antibiotic to clear up the infection. Most symptoms go away in a day or two, but it is important to finish all of the prescribed medication to lower the risk of the infection coming back. Recurrent infections may signal other problems with the urinary tract, and your doctor may need to perform more tests to make sure there is not a more serious problem.

You may be at higher risk for UTIs if you are obese, diabetic, have had UTIs before, have sickle cell trait, are postmenopausal, have diabetes, use a diaphragm or spermicide for contraception, have intercourse frequently, or have a new partner.

These tips may help prevent UTIs:

     • Always wipe front to back after bowel movements and urination.

     • Avoid using douches, powder, and deodorant sprays.

     • Drink plenty of fluids, including water and cranberry juice.

     • Empty your bladder as soon as you get the urge, about every 2–3 hours

     • Try to empty your bladder before and after sex.

     • Wear cotton underwear.

For more information, the patient education pamphlet, “Urinary Tract Infections,” is available in English and Spanish at www.acog.org/publications/patient_education.


Fire safety stressed for off-highway vehicle riding

Off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders are being urged to be extremely careful while riding in the dry conditions that have prompted fire restrictions and some closures of public and private lands statewide.

New Mexico law requires that all off-highway vehicles used on public lands be equipped with U.S. Forest Service-approved spark arrestors. OHVs should only be used on designated trails and routes. OHVs and other vehicles should never be ridden or parked over tall grass or other vegetation, as contact with an exhaust pipe or catalytic converter could start a fire.

Other safety precautions include securing safety chains on trailers, which could drag and cause sparks; insuring all tires are properly inflated to avoid blowouts; and, of course, never, ever toss a cigarette butt out the window.

Before heading out, riders are advised to call ahead to check conditions and restrictions. Fire restrictions and closures can be found at http://nmfireinfo.wordpress.com or by calling the fire restrictions hotline at (877) 864-6985.


New rules for sunscreen

—AP NewsWire
Help is on the way to consumers confused by the jumble of sun protection numbers and other claims on sunscreens. Under new rules recently published, sunscreens will have to prove they filter out both ultraviolet B rays and ultraviolet A rays to claim they protect against skin cancer.

Starting next summer, if they don’t protect against both or the sun protection factor is below 15, then they have to carry a warning: “This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.”

The guidelines, which spent more than 30 years in bureaucratic limbo, are designed to enhance the effectiveness of sunscreens and make them easier to use.

The key takeaway for consumers: Look for a sun protection factor, or SPF, of 15 and above that also says “broad spectrum.” That’s the new buzzword from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to describe a product that does an acceptable job blocking both types of damaging rays.

“These changes to sunscreen labels are an important part of helping consumers have the information they need, so they can choose the right sun protection for themselves and their families,” said Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of FDA’s drug division.

The new regulations require that sunscreens be tested for the ability to block the more dangerous ultraviolet A rays, which can penetrate glass and pose the greatest risk of skin cancer and premature aging. Now, the FDA only requires testing for ultraviolet B rays that cause sunburn. That’s what the familiar SPF measure is based on.

“For the first time, the FDA has clearly defined the testing required to make a broad-spectrum protection claim in a sunscreen and indicate which type of sunscreen can reduce skin cancer risk,” said Dr. Ronald L. Moy, president of the American Academy of Dermatology Association.

Under the new rules:

  • The FDA will prohibit sunscreen marketing claims like “waterproof” and “sweat proof,” which the agency said “are exaggerations of performance.”
  • The FDA also proposes capping the highest SPF value at 50, unless companies can provide results of further testing that support a higher number.
  • FDA says manufacturers must phase out a four-star system currently used by some companies to rate UVA protection.

In reviewing more than 3,000 comments submitted to the agency, the FDA decided the star system was too confusing. Instead, protection against UVA should be proportional to protection against UVB, which is already measured using SPF.

There is a popular misconception that SPF relates to time of solar exposure. Many consumers believe that if they normally get sunburn in one hour, then an SPF 15 sunscreen allows them to stay in the sun for 15 hours without burning. This is not true because SPF is not directly related to length of sun exposure.

The rules were decades in the making.

FDA announced its intent to draft sunscreen rules in 1978 and published them in 1999. The agency then put the plan on indefinite hold until it could address issues concerning both UVA and UVB protection.

Several companies have already adopted some of the language. For example, all Coppertone products from Merck & Co.’s Schering-Plough unit and Neutrogena Sunblock from Johnson & Johnson already boast “broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection.”

Most dermatologists recommend a broad spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher every two hours while outside.

Last year, an estimated 68,130 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with melanoma—the most dangerous form of skin cancer—and an estimated 8,700 died, according to the National Cancer Institute. Nearly $2 billion is spent treating the disease each year.


The Healthy Geezer

The Healthy Geezer

—Fred Cicetti

“Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rage at close of day; Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.”                         —Dylan Thomas

Q.  I’m tired of taking this sitting down. What can I do to fight the aging process?

There’s nothing that will stop aging, but you know that. The most you can hope for is longevity with health. Here are some pointers from health professionals for a high quality of life. You may find these boring, but they work:

  • Eat a varied diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Go to the doctor when you’re sick.
  • Go to the doctor when you’re well to get screened for disease.
  •  Don’t smoke.
  • Use sunscreen.
  • Stay close to your friends and family.

Now, let’s get into some of the “potions“ that are being marketed through drugstores. We’ll start with antioxidants. As you process food, you make substances called “free radicals,” which are believed to contribute to aging and certain diseases. To neutralize free radicals, your body uses antioxidants that come from your food. Proponents believe that antioxidants can prevent chronic diseases.

The following are some antioxidants: vitamin A, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, vitamin C,
Vitamin E,  beta-Carotene, folic acid, and selenium.

The best way to give your body the antioxidants it needs is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. There’s no proof that antioxidants in pill form can improve your general health or extend your life.

Because some hormone levels drop with age, there’s a theory that this decline causes us to age. But can you reverse aging by restoring your hormones?

Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), testosterone, melatonin, and human growth hormone (HGH) are some hormone supplements out there.

Your body converts DHEA into the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone. Proponents say it also slows aging, increases muscle and bone strength, burns fat, improves cognition, bolsters immunity, and protects against chronic diseases.

Declining levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone, have been linked with decreased energy and sex drive, muscle weakness, and osteoporosis.

Melatonin is produced in your brain. It helps regulate sleep. Some claim it can slow or reverse aging, fight cancer, and enhance sexuality.

HGH is responsible for growth spurts in children. Advocates say injections of prescription-only HGH can burn fat, build muscle, and renew energy.

There is no convincing medical evidence to support claims about these hormone supplements. And they are risky. For instance, even short-term use of DHEA or testosterone may cause liver damage.

Don’t believe advertisements that tell you supplements are “natural” remedies, implying that they can’t hurt you. Some people try supplements such as coral calcium, ginseng, and echinacea to stop aging. There isn’t any evidence to support the claims for these supplements either.

Talk to your doctor before taking any supplement. Ingredients in supplements can cause harmful interactions with your medications and serious side effects.


Mind over meal: Nine tips to help you pass up food cravings

—Dr. Joyce Nash
You’re sitting at your desk, diligently working the afternoon away… when all of a sudden, it hits. You’re totally consumed by the intense need to eat a candy bar right now. You can see the soft brown chocolate as clearly as if it were already in your hand. Your mouth begins to water as you anticipate the rich, sweet taste, perfectly balanced by a few salty peanuts. You need that candy bar so badly it practically hurts, and you know there’s no way you’ll get anything done until your longing for chocolate has been sated. Yes, you’ve been blindsided by a craving… and if you’re not careful, intense desires like this one can sabotage your best efforts at maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.

“Whether you’re on an official quest to lose weight or just want to be healthy, it’s crucial that you control what you allow yourself to eat, rather than letting what you want to eat control you,” says Dr. Joyce Nash. “The good news is that there are specific steps you can take to change the way you react when your brain tells you to eat something now.”

So, first things first. What is a craving exactly? According to Dr. Nash, it’s an intense desire or longing for a particular substance. Both hunger and negative emotions can trigger one, as can imagining and thinking about something that would “taste good.” Even seeing an advertisement for a tasty-looking food or having an attractive leftover available can set off a full-blown craving.

“The more you dwell on the idea of a particular food, the more you think about how much you want it and how great it would be to eat it, the more your craving grows,” observes Dr. Nash. “Pretty soon, that food is practically ‘calling to you’ from the fridge, the table, or the vending machine—and you’ll need a predetermined game plan in place if you don’t want to answer.”

As a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of eating anxiety disorders, Dr. Nash knows what she’s talking about. And she’s adamant that while food cravings may seem unbearable, it is possible to recognize them as being thoughts—nothing more, nothing less—that your thinking mind is using to trip you up.

“Responding differently to cravings involves accepting your thoughts as just thoughts and your feelings as just feelings and remembering that these are nothing you must act on,” she explains. “When it comes to eating, acting on your thoughts gets you in trouble. So, you need to be a skeptic and think about what you really want out of your life—the short-term relief from caving in to a craving or the long-term satisfaction of being as healthy as you can be. Observe and identify all of the cues that prompt cravings, and tell yourself, I don’t have to act on that. Also, get rid of as much temptation as possible!”

If you’re ready to do battle against the visions of chocolate bars and salty chips that dance in your head, read on for some of Dr. Nash’s advice on how to create a winning strategy:

  • Catch your craving early. Think of a craving like a weed: If you’re going to eradicate that unwanted plant life from your yard, it’s best to spray the weed killer early on before your entire lawn is infested. Likewise, if you interrupt a craving early on—before it gets out of control—you’re more likely to be able to stop it in its tracks.

“It’s easy to get stuck in a mental rut, just ruminating on the thing you want to eat,” states Dr. Nash. “Try to consciously catch yourself doing this, and purposefully turn your attention to something else. Think about a project you’re working on, or recall a recent vacation—just don’t let yourself focus more and more on eating. If you continue to think about eating a particular food, your mouth will begin to water, and your mind will zoom-focus on that food until you lose control.”

  • Remove yourself from temptation’s path. While this is one of those “no, duh!” pieces of advice, it’s amazing how many people persist in not following it.
    The fact is, though, that if you allow yourself to be around a food that typically breaks down all of your defenses, you have only yourself to blame when you cave.

“If you’re serious about eating well, then for the love of all that’s holy, get out of the area of temptation!” urges Dr. Nash. “Cross the street if you see a bakery looming in the distance. Stay away from the food table at a party. Hang out anywhere but in the kitchen at the next family gathering!”

  • Distract your taste buds. Most of us have been guilty of exclaiming, “Wow! Look over there!” and then pointing in the opposite direction of something we don’t want a friend or family member to see. It’s time to employ that tactic with your taste buds. The next time a craving hits you, make your senses focus on something totally different.

“If possible, brush your teeth, and gargle with strong mouthwash when you feel a craving coming on,” advises Dr. Nash. “It’s difficult to feel like eating afterwards. Or put a strong mint in your mouth—anything to divert your taste buds. Alternatively, try dabbing some cologne or strong-smelling ointment under your nose. These are short-term ways to stop a craving in its tracks.”

  • Substitute, substitute, substitute. Yes, you can distract your taste buds through other tastes and scents… but you don’t have to stop there! Any other healthy use of your time can divert your brain from obsessing over food, too. Try to choose an activity that will physically remove you from temptation, take up much of your conscious thoughts, or both.

“If you’re at home when a craving hits, hop in the shower—I’m serious!” Dr. Nash says. “It’s hard to eat when water is cascading down on you. Alternatively, you might take your dog for a walk, call a friend to catch up, or get on the Internet. Do whatever it takes to distract yourself from wanting something to eat.”

  • Become a (personal) environmentalist. You might not be able to control the fact that you see a picture of a big, juicy cheeseburger on a billboard each day during your commute, but you can control what you see in your own home. Managing your personal environment in terms of food is a crucial step not only in curbing cravings, but in eating well in general.

“Get in the habit of putting leftovers away promptly and storing tempting food out of sight,” Dr. Nash recommends. “Also, be careful when you shop. Use a list, and don’t go to the grocery store when you’re hungry. If you feel that you just can’t resist buying your trigger foods, take your spouse or a friend with you. After all…if you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it!”

  • Watch how you talk to yourself. We all talk to ourselves (and it doesn’t mean we’re crazy!)—there’s always a running stream-of-consciousness commentary of observations, opinions, and thoughts running through our minds. But what you might not know is that this sort of self-talk can sink you before you even set out to conquer your cravings… or it can help you clinch the victory.

“How do you think about yourself in terms of managing what you eat? Is it positive or negative?” asks Dr. Nash. “The fact is, thinking things like, I’ll never resist eating a piece of that cake, or, I already ate a handful of chips… might as well go all out since I blew my diet anyway, make you much more likely to obey your body’s request for a particular food at a particular time. Instead, try to consciously tell yourself, That junk food is no match for me, or, I’m proud of myself because I know I can maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

  •  Don’t let hunger gain the upper hand. When you’re extremely hungry, unhealthy foods are likely to look even more attractive to you than usual. Plus, your resistance is likely to be at an all-time low. With a little planning, though, you can completely avoid this pitfall.

“You’ve probably heard this advice before, and it’s still as true as ever,” confirms Dr. Nash. “Don’t skip meals, and eat at least three of them a day with planned snacks. Never go more than three to four hours without eating. And drink plenty of water!”

  • Remember, this too shall pass. Just like waves in the ocean, cravings peak and then subside. Using the tactics above, learn to “surf an urge;” in other words, ride it out. And sooner or later, that can’t-live-without-it craving will miraculously be gone.

“If you find your hand twitching toward the door of the pantry, tell yourself to wait 10 minutes, then decide whether or not to eat,” suggests Dr. Nash. “In the meantime, get busy doing something else. Tell yourself something like, It won’t kill me to wait. I can handle it. Because guess what—you can!”

  • Indulge in a little of a good thing. While it’s obviously a bad idea to throw in the towel each and every time a craving rears its head, remember that you can indulge in your favorite foods in moderation.

“Maintaining a healthy diet doesn’t mean that you can never have deep-fried chicken or decadent German chocolate cake ever again,” Dr. Nash assures. “Just don’t allow these things to become the norm on your menu. When you do indulge, watch your portions and do so without guilt!”

“Yes, cravings are a very real temptation for everyone,” Dr. Nash concludes. “But even though they might have been your diet’s downfall in the past, tomorrow is a new day. Using these tactics, you can reduce your vulnerability to the urges that prompt you to eat problem foods.”


Keep cancer off the BBQ grill

—M.D. Anderson Experts
Some people may be reconsidering plans to grill hot dogs and steak based on a new report supporting the link between red and processed meats and increased colorectal cancer risk. But experts at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center say that small changes to what—and how—you grill can keep cancer off the menu.

“The good news is that you can do something to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer,” says Sally Scroggs, health education manager at M.D. Anderson’s Cancer Prevention Center. “And making just a few cooking adjustments when grilling can play a part in prevention.”

Scroggs recommends these tips for a healthier barbecue:

     1. Avoid processed meats.

Skip processed meats like bacon, ham, pastrami, salami, sausage, hot dogs, and pepperoni.

Cancer-causing substances form when these meats are preserved, says the American Institute for Cancer Research. And eating these meats can damage a person’s DNA, increasing the risk of colorectal cancer.

     2. Limit red meat.

Eating too much red meat like pork, lamb, and beef (including hamburgers) can raise a person’s cancer risk. Try grilling skinless chicken breasts and fish instead.

Insist on red meat? “Limit yourself to three, six-ounce (cooked) servings per week,” Scroggs says. “One serving is the size of two decks of cards.”

     3. Don’t char or burn meat, poultry, or fish.

Charring, burning, or grilling meat, poultry, and fish over high temperatures causes heterocyclic amines (HCAs) to form. These HCAs can damage a person’s genes, raising the risk for stomach and colorectal cancers.

To avoid HCAs:

  • Stick with fish. Fish contains less fat and cooks faster than meat and poultry.
  • Lightly oil the grill. This keeps charred materials from sticking to your food.
  • Precook food. Cook meat, poultry, or fish in the microwave or oven for two to five minutes, then finish them on the grill. Less grill time means less exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Lower the temperature. For a charcoal grill, spread the coals thinly, or prop the grill rack on bricks. This reduces the heat by increasing the distance between your food and the coals. And use barbecue briquettes and hardwood products, such as hickory and maple. They burn at lower temperatures than softwood (pine) chips.
  • Scrub the grill. Cleaning the grill after each use prevents harmful chemicals from building up and transferring to your food.

     4. Use a marinade.

Marinating meat in vinegar, lemon juice, and herbs such as mint, rosemary, tarragon, or sage can reduce HCA formation by as much as 96 percent. Just 30 minutes can help.

     5. Trim the fat.

Cancer-causing polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) form in the smoke when fat from meat, poultry, or fish drips onto the heat source. That PAH-filled smoke then coats your food.

Curb exposure to PAHs by trimming fat from meat before grilling. Or choose cuts labeled “lean.”

     6. Showcase fruits and veggies.

No barbecue should be a meat-only affair. Grilling fruits and veggies is a great way to load up on vitamins and nutrients that help your body fight off diseases like cancer.

“For some grilling enthusiasts, these changes might initially be a lot to stomach,” Scroggs says. “But updating how you barbecue may mean you continue to enjoy grilling for many summers to come.”
   

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