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Featured Story – National UV Safety Month!

As summer ramps up in Pittsburgh, Metro wants to honor National UV Safety Month by reminding our patients that sun safety is important during this time of the year in order to avoid sun-related skin cancers. Nothing is better than kicking back on the weekends with a cold fruity drink and soaking up the sun rays that are seemingly few and far between this summer here in Pittsburgh! We have compiled a list of sun safety tips and facts for our patients to reference this summer to help ensure that the sunshine can be enjoyed safely!

First, let’s talk about skin cancer…

There are two main types of skin cancers; melanoma and carcinoma. Melanoma develops in the cells that produce melanin (which gives our skin color), and is the deadliest of all the skin cancers. Nonmelanoma skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are the most common types of skin cancers, accounting for over 5.4 million cases per year in the U.S. according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. It is reported that 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers are caused by exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Skin cancer claims the lives of almost 10,000 Americans every year. The easiest way to avoid the risk is to limit your time under direct sunlight. Follow the tips below to have a fun and healthy summer!

Stay in the shade! The CDC reports that the sun is at its most dangerous between the hours of 10:00am-4:00pm. If you are out and about during these hours, do your best to stay in the shade. Whether you be out shopping around or kicking back at one of your kids’ sporting events, if there is shade available, use it!

Use broad-spectrum sunscreen, and re-apply when necessary! The CDC reports that the minimum SPF that your sunscreen should carry is 15, and you should be sure that it will protect you from both UV-A and UV-B rays. By using broad-spectrum sunscreen you are protecting your skin from two different types of harmful ultraviolet rays that the sun produces. Keep in mind that applying once is not enough, especially if you are swimming or participating in activities that cause heavy perspiration. Most sunscreens recommend that users reapply every 2 hours, so keep that in mind the next time you are kicking back at the beach!

Don’t count on clouds to protect you! You may feel that a partially cloudy day at the beach means that you don’t need to take precautions against sun damage. In reality, UV rays can penetrate clouds and wreak havoc on your skin just as easy as on a clear day. Cloudy skies may cool the temperature around you, making it less likely for you to feel your skin burning. Take the same precautions on a cloudy day as you would on a clear day, including re-applying your sunscreen every two hours, in order to assure that you aren’t causing damage to your skin.

Protect your eyes, too! Did you know that UV rays can also cause damage to the cells in your eyes? Cataracts and macular degeneration can be exacerbated by sun exposure, so make sure to pop on a pair of sunglasses that block glare and protect against UV rays (many brands advertise that they protect against 99%-100% of UV rays), or wear a wide-brimmed hat if you are going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time.

For a complete list of sun safety tips, check out the Federal Occupational Health’s website here and take their Sun Safety Quiz!

 

June Featured Story – Men’s Health Month + Mental Health!

The following article was written for and published by the Men’s Health Resource Center. The original article in it’s entirety can be found here. Metro does not claim ownership to any of the following content.

Mental Health & Well-Being

Depression is under-diagnosed in men. Men are over four times more likely than women to commit suicide.

Overall, women are about twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with a mental health issue. But that statistic tells only a small part of the story.

Just as the body changes with age, so does the mind. You may find that you’re misplacing things or you’re just not as on top of things as you used to be. You may experience memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life caused by dementia. As you age, you may also start to feel stressed or depressed due to the loss of a loved one, health problems or financial difficulties.  Stress may cause you to lose energy, fail to eat enough or isolate yourself.  Proper diet management and physical exercise can be the key to a positive outlook and staying emotionally balanced!

Why? To start with, men make about two-thirds as many healthcare provider visits as women do. And even when we do see a healthcare provider, we’re often reluctant to talk about what’s really bothering us, especially if it has anything to do with feelings or mood. Plus, most men don’t realize that some of the physical symptoms we may experience —things like chronic pain and digestive problems — could actually be caused by a mental health issue such as depression, anxiety or stress.

Then there are the men who know (or at least strongly suspect) that they have a problem, but suffer in silence, afraid to admit they need help. They may be afraid others will find out their secret and they’ll be perceived as weak or wimpy or that they’ll lose their job.

The following are common types of emotional health conditions found in men. Browse through each type to find out information such as symptoms, treatment options and prevention tips for each condition.

WHAT AFFECTS YOUR MENTAL HEALTH?

Your mental health can be influenced by a number of factors, including:

  • Your genes (some mental health issues run in families)
  • Divorce, separation, or the breakup of a long-term relationship
  • The death of a loved one
  • Losing your job, or job changes
  • Going through bankruptcy
  • Moving to a new home
  • Coping with a natural disaster
  • Caring for an aging parent
  • The birth of your child
  • Being diagnosed and living with a serious illness, or suffering a major injury
  • Serving in the military, especially in combat

Mental health and your outlook on life can also change without any obvious cause. Sometimes lots of little things build up and the combination can be extremely harmful.

THE BIG QUESTION: AM I NORMAL?

We all have our ups and downs. But most of us wonder at least one time in our life whether what we’re feeling is normal or whether we need professional help. Unfortunately, there’s no single answer that’s right for everyone. However, here’s a good rule of thumb: You need assistance if you’ve been having symptoms every day for more than two weeks and if those symptoms keep you from enjoying life, performing at work or maintaining relationships with friends, your partner or your children.  Untreated mental health conditions can get worse and may have serious consequences. You might, for example, damage your physical health. Or you could increase your risk of doing something to harm yourself or others or of committing suicide. Fortunately with the right diagnosis and the right treatment, most mental health problems are easily resolved and you’ll return to feeling content with life and be better able to cope with its challenges.

MENTAL HEALTH RELATION TO SEXUAL HEALTH

Being diagnosed with depression or feeling stress and anxiety can often cause a loss of interest in sex and intimacy. If this is the case, you might like to find other ways of being physically close and intimate with your partner, like spending time hugging, kissing and touching instead. This may also be reassuring for your partner.

There are many advantages to being sexually active which are physical, psychological, emotional and relational in nature. Endorphins (chemicals in the brain) are released when we are sexually active. They can elevate our mood and act as destressors in our bodies. In the context of a relationship, being sexually active can help to maintain a couple’s connection, which can be very important when one partner has a diagnosis of a serious illness, such as cancer.

It may be difficult for some people to discuss sexual health with others, even their partners, as it is a sensitive topic. But for you, and your partner, its important that you bring up sexual side effects with your provider, just as you would any other side effect. Asking questions such as:

  1. Will there be any side effects of this treatment?
  2. What are the long term effects of this treatment/procedure?

Mental health is very important to your overall health and well-being. Eating a well balanced diet will keep your brain healthy and functioning well for years to come. Ways in which to help promote that include:

  • Omega- three fatty acids found in fish oils help prevent mental decline. These can be found in cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines. Omega-three fatty acids are also found in nuts and oils like canola, flaxseed , olive , and peanut . Nuts also contain vitamin E, which is a potent antioxidant.
  • Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, eggplants, and dark fruits such as berries, oranges and grapes. These have high levels of antioxidants, which protect the brain from free radical formation.
  • Supplements like vitamins B-12; C, E, and folate may also help maintain a healthy brain.
  • Avoid saturated fats and high cholesterol foods.

For More Information visit:
Mental Health.gov
Men’s Health Network

May Featured Story – Do You Focus on Fitness #4Mind4Body?

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. So much of what we do physically impacts us mentally –it’s important to pay attention to both your physical health and your mental health, which can help you achieve overall wellness and set you on a path to recovery.

This May is Mental Health Month; Metro Community Health Center is raising awareness about the connection between physical health and mental health, through the theme Fitness #4Mind4Body. The campaign is meant to educate and inform individuals about how eating healthy foods, gut health, managing stress, exercising, and getting enough sleep can go a long way in making you healthy all around.

A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, as well as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other chronic health problems. It can also play a big role in helping people recover from these conditions. Taking good care of your body is part of a before Stage Four approach to mental health.

Getting the appropriate amount of exercise can help control weight, improve mental health, and help you live longer and healthier. Recent research is also connecting your nutrition and gut health with your mental health. Sleep also plays a critical role in all aspects of our life and overall health. Getting a good night’s sleep is important to having enough physical and mental energy to take on daily responsibilities. And we all know that stress can have a huge impact on all aspects of our health, so it’s important to take time to focus on stress-reducing activities like meditation or yoga.

Metro Community Health Center wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is always the goal. Living a healthy lifestyle may not be easy, but by looking at your overall health every day – both physically and mentally – you can go a long way in ensuring that you focus on your Fitness #4Mind4Body.

Patients who are struggling with mental health challenges are encouraged to speak with their primary care providers who can initiate a referral to Metro’s NEW in-house Integrated Care Services led by Dr. Tamar Carmel! Patients now have quick and easy access to a psychiatrist and LCSW; simply walk down the hall and get your appointment scheduled today!

 

For more information, visit http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may.

April Featured Story – Fact vs. Fiction: The Truth About Vaccinations

World Immunization Week is celebrated globally in April, beginning Monday the 23rd! The theme this year is “Protected Together”, and the team at Metro would like to take this opportunity to de-bunk some of the myths surrounding vaccinations, and encourage all of our patients to stay up to date on their immunizations; because #VaccinesWork!

1. Fiction: “Vaccines make people sick(er)”:

This is a common phrase that is usually thrown around during flu season, and is undeniably untrue.

Fact: The CDC reports that though some vaccines do cause mild disease-like symptoms in some individuals, it is only about 1 in one million cases that this occurs.

Fact: Vaccines actually make less people sick! In fact, a 2016 report stated that vaccines prevent between 2-3 million deaths globally each year!

2. Fiction: “Vaccines contain toxins that are harmful to people”:

Okay, yes; some vaccines do contain ingredients such as mercury and formaldehyde that are considered “cancer-causing” when people are exposed in large, prolonged doses.

Fact: These ingredients are present in such minuscule amounts that they are not causing any harm to you or your child. Formaldehyde is used in very small doses (0.005-0.1 mg) to inactivate the disease that it is trying to vaccinate against. In fact, your infant is born with between 12 and 240 times more formaldehyde in their blood than they receive in one vaccine.

Fact: Mercury is used in very small doses in vaccines as a preservative. One vaccine contains the same amount of mercury found the single can of tuna that you fed your child for lunch yesterday.

3. Fiction: “I live in a developed country; I don’t need to worry about staying vaccinated!”:

If only that were the case! Unfortunately, the anti-vaxxing movement has been encouraging people to stop vaccinating their children, which has caused preventable diseases such as measles, mumps, whooping cough, and chicken pox to make a comeback.

Fact: The CDC reported that measles was eradicated in 2000. After the 2004 (now de-bunked) article by Andrew Wakefield which postulated a link between vaccines and autism, measles has made a return. There were 667 cases of measles reported in 2014, just 14 years after the disease was considered to be eliminated in the U.S.

4. “Myself and my child will be protected via ‘herd immunity’:

Fact: The “herd immunity” category is designed to protect those in the community who cannot receive vaccinations for health reasons, such as HIV positive individuals, newborn babies, and individuals going through cancer treatments. Some studies report that “herd immunity” is only effective if 90% of the population or more are properly vaccinated. By opting out of vaccinating your children, you’re not only putting them at risk of contracting vaccine-preventable diseases (like chicken pox and measels), but you’re also contributing to the possible spread of these diseases to members of the community who do not have the option to protect themselves via immunizations.

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If you have questions about immunizations, please ask your provider at your next appointment and they will be happy to explain how vaccines work and why we should all be “Protected Together”. Follow the global conversation on the topic by following the #VaccinesWork tag!

March Featured Story – How Fruits + Vegetables Can Save The World

Metro is celebrating National Nutrition Month the whole month of March. The theme this year is #MeatlessMarch, and the movement is encouraging people to incorporate some meat-less meals into their routines. At a glance, it would seem that this is simply a health-driven initiative backed by providers hoping to lower their patients’ blood pressure and cholesterol by adding more veggies to their diets. Though that is a part of it, it isn’t the only reason to go meatless this March (and beyond!).

Food waste is killing our planet

The United States is one of the biggest contributors to food waste on the planet. An incredible amount of energy and water resources goes into the production of food in the United States, and an estimated 40% of that food ends up being thrown away rather than consumed. The food we throw away is sent to our landfills where it produces carbon dioxide as it rots. As of 2007, global food waste had produced an estimated 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide leaking into our atmosphere. One of the simplest ways for the average person to help with sustainability is by eating the food that they buy and reducing what is thrown into the garbage.

The ugly truth about meat in America

The commercial livestock industry produces 7.1 tons of carbon dioxide per year, accounting for 18% of the total greenhouse gas emissions occurring on the planet.  The Environmental Working Group conducted research that suggests that the commercial production of red meat produces 10 to 40 times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions as commercial vegetable production. Even more staggering is the fact that, according to EarthSave.org, “It takes 2,500 gallons of water, 12 pounds of grain, 35 pounds of topsoil, and the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline to produce one pound of feedlot beef.” Considering that the average yield from a single cow is 490 pounds of edible meat, that would indicate that 1.2 million gallons of water, over 5,800 pounds of grain, over 17,000 pounds of topsoil, and the energy equivalent of 490 gallons of gasoline goes into each cow that is commercially farmed for meat consumption. The United States farms roughly 39 million cows per year for this purpose. If consumers were to cut down on red meat consumption, the industry would be forced to produce less products, in turn cutting down the carbon emissions associated with commercial cattle production.

Fruits + Veggies to the Rescue!

Research suggests that if the world’s largest consumers of red meat and dairy products were to reduce their consumption by just 40%, 168 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions would be stopped from poisoning our planet. Enter the “reducetarian” movement, which advocates for general meat consumption reduction, whether it be by going fully vegan, or by moderating your daily or weekly meat intake. This is exactly what #MeatlessMarch is about; making a concerted effort to eat less red meat for a whole 30 days. The best way to accomplish this is to replace meat-protein with plant-protein, but simply switching to a vegetarian lifestyle isn’t necessarily the whole answer.

While fruit and vegetable production accounts for much less greenhouse gas emissions than almost all meat-based protein production, the cost of getting those fruits and vegetables to our plates sometimes comes at a high cost (and a heavy carbon footprint). The first step in creating a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly diet is to turn to local farmers first. Buying produce from as close to your home as possible drastically reduces the greenhouse gasses emitted to get it to you. Choice of produce is equally as important. Some produce and plant-based protein products, such nuts, bananas and strawberries, require a ton of natural resources to produce. Limiting those foods in your diet is a big help. Choosing low-cost (from a production standpoint) produce such as leafy greens, grains, and beans or lentils is the best route to go when planning a sustainable diet.

There are many vegetables that pack just as much protein as meat! Fill your plate with broccoli (2 grams of protein per serving), spinach (3 grams of protein per serving), chickpeas (6 grams of protein per serving), or edamame (18 grams of protein per serving) to get the satisfying “fullness” feeling that you get from eating red meat. If better taste or texture is what you’re going after, marinate and grill up some portabella mushroom caps for a perfect burger alternative!

Be reasonable while being responsible

Fully committing to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle isn’t for everyone, and we get that. You know yourself better than anyone else; if you think you can comfortably commit to even one meat-less meal per week, that is progress and you will be helping the cause! More than anything we just want people to be more cognizant of what they are consuming and how it is effecting the world around us.

Metro is dedicated to helping our patients become the healthiest version of themselves. Stop by the health center waiting room and grab any of the meatless recipes we’ve provided our patients to encourage healthier lifestyles. If you try a recipe and post it on social media, tag us #MetroHealthPgh or @MetroHealthPgh and we will feature your post on our social media accounts!

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This blog post was written by Kelsey Moran with Spencer Design Co. For more blog posts by Kelsey, visit the SDC blog here.

August Featured Story – National Immunization Awareness Month!

Vaccinating on Time is Important for Disease Protection

National Immunization Awareness Month is a reminder that children need vaccines right from the start.

Parents agree that feeding and sleep schedules are important to help keep their children healthy. The same goes for childhood immunizations. Vaccinating children on time is the best way to protect them from 14 serious and potentially deadly diseases before their second birthday.

“The recommended immunization schedule is designed to offer protection early in life,” said Dr. Candice Robinson, a pediatrician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “when babies are vulnerable and before it’s likely they will be exposed to diseases.”

Public health and medical experts base their vaccine recommendations on many factors. They study information about diseases and vaccines very carefully to decide which vaccines kids should get and when they should get them for best protection.

Although the number of vaccines a child needs in the first two years of life may seem like a lot, doctors know a great deal about the human immune system, and they know that a healthy baby’s immune system can handle getting all vaccines when they are recommended.

Dr. Robinson cautions against parents delaying vaccination. “There is no known benefit to delaying vaccination. In fact, it puts babies at risk of getting sick because they are left vulnerable to catch serious diseases during the time they are not protected by vaccines.”

When parents choose not to vaccinate or to follow a delayed schedule, children are left unprotected against diseases that still circulate in this country, like measles and whooping cough.

The United States experienced a record number of measles cases during 2014, with 667 cases from 27 states reported to CDC’s NCIRD. This was the greatest number of cases in the U.S. since measles was eliminated in 2000.  Staying on track with the immunization schedule ensures that children have the best protection against diseases like these by age 2.

Parents who are concerned about the number of shots given at one time can reduce the number given at a visit by using the flexibility built into the recommended immunization schedule. For example, the third dose of hepatitis B vaccine can be given at 6 through 18 months of age. Parents can work with their child’s health care professional to have their child get this dose at any time during that age range.

“I make sure my kids are vaccinated on time,” said Dr. Amanda Cohn, a pediatrician at CDC. “Getting children all the vaccines they need by age 2 is one of the best things parents can do to help keep their children safe and healthy.”

If you have questions about the childhood immunization schedule, talk with your child’s doctor or nurse. For more information about vaccines, go to www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents.

This story was written and provided by the CDC for redistribution. Metro does not claim ownership of this article, the opinions and views expressed, or the content in any way.

July Featured Story – National UV Safety Month!

As summer ramps up in Pittsburgh, Metro wants to honor National UV Safety Month by reminding our patients that sun safety is important during this time of the year in order to avoid sun-related skin cancers. Nothing is better than kicking back on the weekends with a cold fruity drink and soaking up the sun rays that are seemingly few and far between this summer here in Pittsburgh! We have compiled a list of sun safety tips and facts for our patients to reference this summer to help ensure that the sunshine can be enjoyed safely!

First, let’s talk about skin cancer…

There are two main types of skin cancers; melanoma and carcinoma. Melanoma develops in the cells that produce melanin (which gives our skin color), and is the deadliest of all the skin cancers. Nonmelanoma skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are the most common types of skin cancers, accounting for over 5.4 million cases per year in the U.S. according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. It is reported that 90% of nonmelanoma skin cancers are caused by exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Skin cancer claims the lives of almost 10,000 Americans every year. The easiest way to avoid the risk is to limit your time under direct sunlight. Follow the tips below to have a fun and healthy summer!

Stay in the shade! The CDC reports that the sun is at its most dangerous between the hours of 10:00am-4:00pm. If you are out and about during these hours, do your best to stay in the shade. Whether you be out shopping around or kicking back at one of your kids’ sporting events, if there is shade available, use it!

Use broad-spectrum sunscreen, and re-apply when necessary! The CDC reports that the minimum SPF that your sunscreen should carry is 15, and you should be sure that it will protect you from both UV-A and UV-B rays. By using broad-spectrum sunscreen you are protecting your skin from two different types of harmful ultraviolet rays that the sun produces. Keep in mind that applying once is not enough, especially if you are swimming or participating in activities that cause heavy perspiration. Most sunscreens recommend that users reapply every 2 hours, so keep that in mind the next time you are kicking back at the beach!

Don’t count on clouds to protect you! You may feel that a partially cloudy day at the beach means that you don’t need to take precautions against sun damage. In reality, UV rays can penetrate clouds and wreak havoc on your skin just as easy as on a clear day. Cloudy skies may cool the temperature around you, making it less likely for you to feel your skin burning. Take the same precautions on a cloudy day as you would on a clear day, including re-applying your sunscreen every two hours, in order to assure that you aren’t causing damage to your skin.

Protect your eyes, too! Did you know that UV rays can also cause damage to the cells in your eyes? Cataracts and macular degeneration can be exacerbated by sun exposure, so make sure to pop on a pair of sunglasses that block glare and protect against UV rays (many brands advertise that they protect against 99%-100% of UV rays), or wear a wide-brimmed hat if you are going to be out in the sun for an extended period of time.

For a complete list of sun safety tips, check out the Federal Occupational Health’s website here and take their Sun Safety Quiz!