Extension and Ag Research News


Prairie Fare: Health screening can save your life

Health screening can save your life. Many types of cancer are treatable if caught early.

“Put your feet on the marks and lift your hands over your head like the picture. Don’t move.”

Many of us have heard those instructions, or something like it, when being screened at the airport prior to a flight.

The screening attendants always used to check my wristwatch. It’s a plain old metal watch, nothing fancy. I now put it in the bin with my shoes to avoid getting stopped in the line and searched.

Screening protects passengers from potentially dangerous travelers.

Most of us regularly walk through department store exits that screen our bags when we leave. Sometimes, the alarms may go off even if the store clerks have removed the antitheft devices.

Screening can protect the stores from theft. This screening may help protect our wallets from the price increases that can happen from merchandise losses.

Chances are, your blood has been analyzed for sugar or cholesterol levels to monitor the risk for diabetes and heart disease. Health screening can save your life.

March is not only National Nutrition Month, but it also is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. If you are 45 or older, you should be screened for colorectal cancer according to current recommendations. If you have a family history of this disease, you may be screened at a younger age. Discuss with your healthcare provider the options, including colonoscopies.

Most of us know someone who has lost their battle with cancer. Maybe you have lost a family member or friend. Perhaps you have fought cancer or had a health scare after a positive cancer screening test.

Screening for cancer allows your healthcare provider to detect health issues. Many types of cancer are treatable if caught early.

We all can make positive lifestyle choices to reduce our risk for cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these are some things you can do to lower your risk. Which of these do you do?

  • Avoid tobacco. Tobacco use is linked with cancer almost anywhere in the body but is especially linked with lung cancer.
  • Avoid secondhand smoke. Breathing someone’s secondhand smoke also can cause lung cancer.
  • Protect your skin. Spring is in the air in our cold climates, so we might be heading outside in the sun more often to work or play. Be sure to wear sunscreen, wear sun-protective clothing, a hat and sunglasses, and avoid exposure to the midday sun whenever possible.
  • Limit alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of six kinds of cancer, including cancer of the mouth and throat, larynx (voice box), esophagus, colon, liver and breast.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is linked with greater risk of 13 kinds of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon and rectum, stomach, ovaries, pancreas and several others.

What steps are you taking to safeguard your health?

We are launching the spring session of our free online nutrition program called "Nourish" in April, and registration is open now. Some North Dakota counties are offering the program face to face. I invite you to join dozens of people who have taken the challenge to improve their health.

We especially want to reach adults 50 and older, but adults of any age are welcome. Sign up at the same time as a friend or family member, and nurture each other’s progress as you learn about nourishing your body. See www.ndsu.edu/agriculture/extension/programs/nourish to sign up.

Each class will focus on one topic, such as how to keep your eyes healthy. Other topics include how to keep your heart, brain, digestive system, skin, bones and joints healthy – and strategies for getting more sleep.

Here’s a colorful, fiber-rich and flavorful recipe to enjoy.

Greek Lentil Salad

1 cup dry lentils and 1½ cups water
½ cup Kalamata olives
½ cup onion, chopped
1½ cups grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup green peppers, chopped
1 cup cucumber, diced
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried oregano

Combine lentils and water in a pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender (about 15-20 minutes), then drain and cool. In a large bowl, combine lentils, olives, onion, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumber, feta cheese and parsley. Whisk oil, lemon juice and oregano together. Toss salad with dressing to coat. Enjoy right away or cover and place in fridge to marinate for two hours before serving. Salad can be made a day in advance.

Makes 16 side-dish servings. Each serving has 110 calories, 4.5 grams (g) fat, 4 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 45 milligrams sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication – March 7, 2024

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, 701-231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu

Editor: Elizabeth Cronin, 701-231-7006, elizabeth.cronin@ndsu.edu


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