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Cancer risk high in Emporia Greensville - Independent-Messenger: News

Cancer risk high in Emporia Greensville

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Posted: Wednesday, September 12, 2018 12:30 am

Members of the Emporia-Greensville Chamber of Commerce met for lunch on Aug. 16 at Southern Virginia Regional Medical Center classrooms.

Elias Berhanu, Education Coordinator for the Cancer Research & Resource Center in Lawrenceville, was this month’s guest speaker. He spoke about the Greensville County and Emporia health rankings.

The Cancer Resource Center doesn’t treat patients but rather provides information about local resources to residents of Emporia, Greensville County, Brunswick, Mecklenburg County and Lunenburg County.

The walls of the center displays over 700 informational materials about cancer and related topics. The center is funded by the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

Berhanu noted that the Center is sponsoring a Men’s Health Event in November at the Golden Leaf Commons. It will be a sit down dinner with a speaker and a panel of doctors to answer questions as well as vendors.

Why does our locality have one of the highest cancer rates in the Crater District? Nobody really knows, he said, noting that Emporia-Greensville ranks 33rd of 35 districts in the Crater District.

What a person does can greatly influence cancer such as a person’s lifestyle, getting early screenings, eating well, exercising, and not smoking. He noted that at the time of a stroke, about 70 percent of patients have high blood pressure.

Berhanu said that this region in Virginia is one of the hot spots for colorectal cancer. The rate doubles for people under 50 so new recommendations are to have your first colonoscopy at 45 or sooner if there is a family history. Because of the new recommendation, about 22 million people can now get their insurance to pay for a colonoscopy between the ages of 45-49, he said.

Berhanu said the early detection of cancer is vital for a person’s survival. If caught in stage 1 there is a great chance of surviving (90 percent) but by stage 4 the odds are greatly diminished.

It’s important to catch cancer when it is precancerous so the cancer can be zapped before spreading. By stage 4 the survival rate is only 13 percent. He also noted that Emporia-Greensville has a high prostate cancer rate. “The early detection of cancer literally saves us from the potential of a late stage diagnosis,” he said.

The health rankings were compiled by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated solely to health.

In health outcomes, Greensville County ranked 121 and Emporia 131 out of 133 counties/cities in Virginia for length of life and quality of life.

The County ranked 109 and Emporia, 130 out of 133 localities for health behaviors, clinical care, physical environment, and social and economic factors. In health outcomes, Emporia ranked 131 and the County, 121 out of 133 localities; length of life, County, 114; City, 128; health behaviors, County, 127; City, 132.

Just over 20 percent of the local population smokes, compared to 15 percent in the state. Just over 30 percent of adults are obese compared to 28 percent in the state. Also local residents are less active, exercise less, had more poor mental health days, have low birthweight babies and have a much higher rate of sexually transmitted infections. The state average for sexually transmitted infections is 424 for the state; County, 513, City, 1,061.

The amount of uninsured patients is higher than in the state, unemployment is higher, the amount of children in single-parent households is up to more than double of that of other localities in the state, and premature death is a lot higher.

Being physically active decreases the risk of breast, colon and endometrial cancer because it regulates blood levels of hormones that contribute to cancer risk, speed food through the colon, reducing exposure to dietary carcinogens, and prevents the build up of body fat, a cause of many cancers, Berhanu said.

Being overweight or obese increases your risk for esophageal, liver, kidney, stomach, colorectal, advanced prostate, post menopausal, breast, gallbladder, pancreatic, ovarian, and endometrial cancers.

Yet seven in 10 Americans are currently overweight or obese. Only about half of all Americans are even aware of the obesity-cancer risk.

He went on to say that about one in three women will get cancer in their lifetime, with breast cancer being the most common. Healthy eating, physical activity and being lean reduces the risk of the most common cancers that affect women such as esophageal, breast, liver, gallbladder, kidney, endometrial, oral, stomach, pancreatic, colorectal and ovarian cancers.

Almost one in two U.S. men will get cancer in their lifetime. Of advanced prostate cancers, 11 percent can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men.

Healthy eating, physical activity and being lean reduces the risk of the most common cancers that affect men such as esophageal, liver, gallbladder, kidney, oral, stomach, pancreatic, colorectal and advanced prostate cancers.

Researchers from Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University are doing a research study to understand how lifestyle and environment in different parts of Virginia are related to cancer risks.

To participate, you would be asked for information about your health, lifestyle and a spit sample. For information about the study call the Lawrenceville Cancer Research & Resource Center at (434) 532-8190 or email: Va.Livingwell@vcuhealth.org.

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