Health Tips

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Montana’s big skies mean plenty of sun. We often consider ourselves too busy at work or play to wear sunscreen; however, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, and 65 percent of Melanoma cases are caused by direct exposure to the sun. 

What can we do to prevent skin cancer?

1.Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen every day of the year. 


Use SPF 15 in the winter and water-resistant SPF 30 in the summer. Reapply two tablespoons every two hours, or after swimming or sweating. 

2. Remember all sunburns are bad.A person’s risk of melanoma doubles after they have had four to five sunburns in their life. 

3. Don’t use tanning beds or go tanning. Four “tanning sessions” per year increases your risk of melanoma by 11 percent. 

4. Create a clothing barrier. Wear long-sleeves and long-pants, sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat if you are going to be in the sun for a long time. Look for special hats that have UV protection but are light and keep you cool. 

5. Keep babies and young children out of the sun. Children are more sensitive to UV radiation than adults. Exposure to UV rays in childhood increases melanoma risks greatly later in life. 

6. Examine your skin regularly. Look for new marks or moles and seek a medical opinion if you have something that looks irregular.

7. Go by the “Shadow rule.” If your shadow is shorter than you are, the UV exposure is strong and you should take extra precautions and give preference to shade and indoor activities. If it is longer than you, it is less strong and safer to be outside.

Source: Skin Cancer Foundation,


Promoting Healthy Childhood Nutrition and Lifestyles 

P1070615.jpgChildhood obesity is endemic in the United States affecting one of three of our children. For the first time in our history this generation of children may not outlive their parents! Attacking this problem requires a strong investment from families, schools, communities and local business communities.

Adult obesity and the chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes, stroke, and high blood pressure) must be first addressed early in childhood to lower later risks.

Here are a few ways to address this frightening epidemic:

 Infancy • Encourage breast feeding

• Prepare healthy home cooked meals and keep healthy foods for snacks at home
• Limit TV/video games- playing with your kids, especially outdoors
• Limit fruit juice to 4-6 oz per day and avoid sugared soft drinks

• Avoid frequent fast food options to home cooked meals as a family
• Limit juices to 8-12 oz per day and avoid sugared drinks at school
• Provide breakfast each morning- with a dairy product
• Limit portion sizes appropriate for age
• Limit TV and computer/video game time and encourage physical activity
• Educate and model the importance of healthy nutrition.

• As above, and advocate for physical activity at school
• Limit fruit juice and sugared beverages at home and at school Educate at home and at school the future health risks of excessive weight and sedentary life style
• Limit eating out and fast foods
• Limit served portion sizes at home

What can the school and community do to lower these risks?


• Ensure schools are providing healthier food and beverage options in cafeteria
• Increase nutrition education for children, parents and educators
• Remove sugared soft drinks from vending machines

Communities, Businesses and Health Care Institutions
• Provide community classes for families on healthy nutrition
• Support health fairs; make farmer’s markets available
• Ask local  restaurants to offer and identify  lower caloric healthier menu options
• Ask grocery stores to prominently display and promote healthier food choices


March is National Nutrition Month

These expert health tips will help you stay energized and healthy:

1. Eat breakfast every day. People who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later in the day.

2. Cook your meals at home whenever possible. Restaurants add salt, sugar and fats to please their customers. Cooking and eating at home helps you control the ingredients and the portion sizes. 

kids-food 2

3. Choose the right fats and oils. Olive, canola, peanut oils, avocados, nuts and fish provide heart-healthy fat as well as vitamins and minerals. 

4. Use appropriate portion sizes. USDA statistics show that because of increased portion sizes, the average total daily calorie intake has risen from 1,854 to 2,002 calories over the last 20 years. That theoretically works out to an extra 15 lbs. per year. Use the palm of your hand to judge the portion sizes for food.  

5. Drink water. It is preferable to diet soda and coffee. It also helps you feel fuller during the day. Try not to drink your calories. Choose fruit over fruit juices, because they supply essential fiber. 

6. Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. They are low in calories, but they are also filled with beneficial fibers, vitamins, antioxidants and carbohydrates.

7. Understand your food labels. A product labeled “fat-free” is not necessarily low in calories. A product labeled low-carb or low-sugar can also be high in fat. 

8. Choose cereal and breads with high fiber. Look for at least 7g in cereals and 5g per piece of bread. Fiber helps fight cancer and cancels out some of the calories you eat. Always eat whole wheat! 

9. Avoid crash diets. They are not a solution to weight loss, because the calories will come back as soon as the unpleasant diet is over. Use these tips to make lifestyle changes that will shed pounds consistently.

10. Good nutrition starts very early-in childhood. Teach your child to avoid high sugar content sodas and snacks. The same foods that are good for you are good for them as well!


Top 10 Preventive Services for Women 

1. Annual Exam (if under 18 or over 65) or Well-Woman Annual Visits (18-65) for routine surveillance of health and preventive medicine
2. Breast Cancer Mammography screenings every 1 to 2 years for women over 40
3. Cervical Cancer screening for sexually active women
4. Blood Pressure screening for all adults
5. Obesity screening and counseling for all adults
6. Tobacco Use screening for all adults and cessation interventions for tobacco users.
7. Diabetes (Type 2) screening for adults with high blood pressure
8. Cholesterol screening
9. Osteoporosis screening for women who are postmenopausal and demonstrate risk factors
10. Diet counseling for adults at higher risk for chronic disease.

Note: Most of these services are covered by the Health Insurance Marketplace and many other insurance plans. Talk to your provider. Also, most are available at GCMC, except for Mammography and Osteoporosis screenings. For these, we can provide a referral out, or you can obtain them from the Winkley Mobile Unit that comes to GCMC each October.