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It’s Time to Quit

Each year, tobacco kills more Minnesotans than alcohol, homicides, car accidents, AIDS, illegal drugs, and suicide combined.

Quitting tobacco may be one of the hardest things a person will ever do. If you are a smoker and have tried to quit in the past, you know that is true. Don’t give up though. Try again. Stopping smoking will be one of the best things you can ever do for yourself and the people you love. Need help quitting? We have put together resources to support you in this effort. From free nicotine patches to health coaching, phone apps and more, there are many options from which to choose.

Quit Tobacco: Free resources to help you quit.

Let HealthPartners match you up with a coach to help you through the quitting process. This website also has tools and information to help you get started.

Livestrong MyQuit Coach App:
This application creates a personalized plan to help you quit smoking. Through this physician approved, interactive and easy to use app, you’ll evaluate your current status, set attainable goals and adjust preferences according to your needs.

Quit Plan:
For Minnesota adults (18 or older) looking for support, the QUITPLAN Helpline offers four weeks of free patches, gum or lozenges. This program is for any Minnesotans who are uninsured or whose insurance doesn’t cover either phone coaching or these quit-smoking medications. To sign up, call 1-888-354-PLAN (7526).

What about e-cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are battery-powered devices that allow users to inhale aerosolized liquid (e-liquid), which may contain nicotine and other potentially harmful chemicals. E-cigarettes are not regulated by the FDA and the health risks are unknown. Aerosols from some e-cigarettes contain chemicals known to cause cancer, as well as nicotine; there is no way for users to know how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals they are inhaling. E-cigarettes are not FDA-approved smoking cessation aids, and there is no body of evidence that proves e-cigarettes help people quit smoking.


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Early Detection Saves Lives

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages. Following the screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society and performing monthly self breast exams can help save thousands of lives each year. Watch this video for more information:

Screening Guidelines

These guidelines are for women at average risk for breast cancer.

  • Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so. The risks of screening as well as the potential benefits should be considered.
  • Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women age 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or have the choice to continue yearly screening. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
  • All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms associated with breast cancer screening. They should also be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and report any changes to a health care provider right away.

For women at higher than average risk

Women who are at high risk for breast cancer based on certain factors should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. This includes women who:

  • Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of about 20% to 25% or greater, according to risk assessment tools that are based mainly on family history (such as the Claus model – see below)
  • Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, and have not had genetic testing themselves
  • Had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years
  • Have Li-Fraumeni syndrome, Cowden syndrome, or Bannayan-Riley-Ruvalcaba syndrome, or have first-degree relatives with one of these syndromes.

Ordering shoes, checking your bank statements and booking flights. You can do pretty much anything online these days – including scheduling a mammogram.

Log on to your myHealthPartners account at to schedule an appointment or find a doctor. Or, download the myHP mobile app to search for care on your smart phone.

Once A Month

Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month. Johns Hopkins Medical center states,“Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”

While mammograms can help you to detect cancer before you can feel a lump, breast self-exams help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes. Watch this video to see how to perform a breast self-exam.

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Diabetes prevention: 5 tips for taking control

Changing your lifestyle could be a big step toward diabetes prevention — and it’s never too late to start.

Consider these tips.

When it comes to type 2 diabetes — the most common type of diabetes — prevention is a big deal. It’s especially important to make diabetes prevention a priority if you’re at increased risk of diabetes, for example, if you’re overweight or have a family history of the disease.

Tip 1:

Get more physical activity: Research shows that both aerobic exercise and resistance training can help control diabetes, but the greater benefit comes from a fitness program that includes both.

Tip 2:

Get plenty of fiber: Foods high in fiber include fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.

Tip 3:

Go for whole grains: Try to make at least half your grains whole grains. Many foods made from whole grains come ready to eat, including various breads, pasta products and many cereals. Look for the word “whole” on the package and among the first few items in the ingredient list.

Tip 4:

Lose extra weight: If you’re overweight, diabetes prevention may hinge on weight loss. Every pound you lose can improve your health, and you may be surprised by how much.

Tip 5:

Skip fad diets and just make healthier choices: Low-carb diets, the glycemic index diet or other fad diets may help you lose weight at first, but their effectiveness at preventing diabetes isn’t known nor are their long-term effects. And by excluding or strictly limiting a particular food group, you may be giving up essential nutrients. Instead, think variety and portion control as part of an overall healthy-eating plan.

When to see your doctor

If you’re older than age 45 and your weight is normal, ask your doctor if diabetes testing is appropriate for you. The American Diabetes Association recommends blood glucose screening if:

  • You’re age 45 or older and overweight
  • You’re younger than age 45 and overweight with one or more additional risk factors for type 2 diabetes — such as a sedentary lifestyle or a family history of diabetes.
  • Share your concerns about diabetes prevention with your doctor. He or she will applaud your efforts to keep diabetes at bay, and perhaps offer additional suggestions based on your medical history or other factors.

By Mayo Clinic Staff Excerpted

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Simple Steps to be Healthy at Work

  1. Eat Real Food. Avoid products with a long list of unpronounceable ingredients. They tend to be highly processed, lacking the nutrients your body needs, and are often loaded with empty calories. Changing how we eat changes how we feel.
  2. Learn to Cook. Cooking meals at home allows you to control portion sizes and the quality (use nutrition dense foods) of the ingredients. Think about making double and triple batches every time you cook to save time.
  3. Meal Prep. Choose one day a week to prep for all lunches and snacks for the work week. Put meals in glass containers or bulk chop and put together your unique lunch and snack each day. Packing your own snacks and lunch for work will save you time, money and eating healthier will help you stay on track toward your health goals.
  4. Eat a Healthy Breakfast. How we begin the day can set us up for success or failure. What we put in our bodies is directly related to how we physically feel. Start your day with a nutrient rich green smoothie, veggie egg bake or oatmeal.
  5. Have a Plan. Whether you bring your snacks and lunch to work or planning to go to a restaurant, have a plan for what you will eat and when you will exercise through-out the day.
  6. Get Moving. Do any type of physical activity every day. Find movement or exercise’s you enjoy. Even more important than maintaining an exercise program is to simply move around a lot and avoid sitting as much as possible.
  7. Drink Water. Most people are chronically dehydrated. We often mistake thirst for hunger. Drink a full glass upon waking, anytime you feel hungry and before each meal.
  8. Sleep. A night of solid sleep can set your body up to perform at its peak the next day, where as a poor night of sleep can waste your day before it has even begun. You can set the stage by making smart choices about how you end your day and prepare for bed.
  9. Take a Break. Take a real break and eat with co-workers, go outside, disengage from work. Working can lead to a lot of stress, taking care of your mental health needs to be a priority.
  10. Think Positive. Being a positive thinker can drastically impact your life. Did you know that positive thinking can make you healthier? Numerous studies have shown that optimists are physically
    and psychologically healthier than pessimists. Change your thinking to live a healthier life.

by Lori Kampa Kearney, Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach & Wellness Educator

Watch this video to find out simple steps you can take to be healthy at work

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New study finds colon cancer rates rising among those under 50

A new study finds colon cancer rates are declining overall, but among Americans under 50 years old — a group not normally considered at risk — the rates are increasing. The reason for the rise in younger people is unclear. Possibilities include the epidemic of obesity, a lack of physical activity, and America’s high fat diet which are all risk factors for colon cancer. Its important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of colon cancer.

Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:

A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool, that lasts longer than four weeks; rectal bleeding or blood in your stool; persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain; a feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely; weakness or fatigue; unexplained weight loss. Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. When symptoms appear, they’ll likely vary, depending on the cancer’s size and location in your large intestine. If you notice any symptoms of colon cancer, make an appointment with your doctor.

Risk factors

Additional factors that may increase your risk of colon cancer include:

  • African-American race.
  • Low fiber diet.
  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions.
  • Family history of colon cancer.
  • Lifestyle habits that include smoking and heavy use of alcohol.
  • Diabetes.

Talk to your doctor about when you should begin screening for colon cancer. Guidelines generally recommend that colon cancer screenings begin at age 50. Your doctor may recommend more frequent or earlier screening if you have other risk factors.

Mayo Clinic Staff Print

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Seek Shade This Summer

Did you know. . . each year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon? Fortunately, skin cancer is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Below are guidelines to help you prevent skin cancer:

Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM when the sun is strongest. An extra rule of thumb is the “shadow rule.” If your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation is stronger; if your shadow is longer, UV radiation is less intense.

Do not burn. A person’s risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, doubles if he or she had had five or more sunburns at any point in life.
Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths. Indoor UV tanners are 74 percent more likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, than those who have never tanned indoors. Tanning bed users are also 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.

Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Clothing can be your most effective form of sun protection, so make the most of it with densely woven and bright- or dark-colored fabrics, which offer the best defense.

Sunscreen Products. A new report by Consumer Reports shows that many sunscreen products may not offer as much protection to your skin as advertised. The report finds that even if you lather on and reapply certain sunscreens, you still might not be protected, certainly not to the extent the product promises. Sixty lotions, sprays and sticks with SPF claims of 30 or higher were tested. Twenty-eight of them failed to meet the SPF claim on the label. Three of them fell far short with tests showing an SPF of less than 15.

“We are suggesting you look for a sunscreen that has chemical active ingredients of at least an SPF of 40,” said Trisha Calvo of Consumer Reports. “In an analysis of four years of our sunscreen testing we found that those sunscreens are going to give you the best chance of getting an SPF.”

Consumer Reports found that some sunscreens live up to their promises including La Roche-Posay Anthelios, No-Ad Sport, Pure Sun Defense, Trader Joe’s Spray, Carribean Breeze Mist, and Equate Sport Spray. Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating. One six-ounce bottle of sunscreen should provide two full days of sun protection for prolonged outdoor activity.

Examine your skin head-to-toe every month. While self-exams shouldn’t replace the important annual skin exam performed by a physician, they offer the best chance of detecting the early warning signs of skin cancer. If you notice any change in an existing mole or discover a new one that looks suspicious, see a physician immediately. To find out more about how to perform self-examination and spot a skin cancer, visit

Reprinted from: and

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President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition

Healthy Saint Paul is supporting the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition in honor of National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. During the month of May, we challenge all adults to get 30 minutes of physical activity every day.

Did you know that regular physical activity increases your chances of living a longer, healthier life? It also reduces your risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and some types of cancer.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults:

  • Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity each week. Moderate activity includes things like walking fast, dancing, swimming, and raking leaves.
  • Do muscle-strengthening activities – like lifting weights or using exercise bands – at least 2 days a week.

Physical activity is for everyone. No matter what shape you are in, you can find activities that work for you. Together, we can rise to the challenge and get more active during the month of May!

To help you get active, Healthy Saint Paul is offering:

What Where Time When
Yoga City Hall 40A&B 12-1:00 Mondays, Wednesdays
Water Dept. 12-12:45 Mondays, Wednesdays
Pilates City Hall 40A&B 12-1:00 Tuesdays, Thursdays

Nice Ride:
Healthy Saint Paul and Nice Ride have partnered to help you enjoy the benefits of a Nice Ride membership. Nice Ride representatives will be outside City Hall 4th Street entrance on May 16 from 10:00am-2:00pm to sign up new and renewing members. Click here for promotion details.

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Adding Fruits and Vegetables to Your Diet

Only 25% of Americans eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Plants are the absolute foundation of a healthy diet, providing all sorts of nutrients and fibers that play a role in disease prevention. Eating more plants tends to displace higher-calorie foods, balancing your diet and controlling hunger.

Below are a few small and very simple changes to help you reach the goal of five fruits and veggies per day.

Track your fruits and veggies.
You are more likely to eat more fruits and vegetables if you write down how many servings you get. Join the yumPower Fruit and Veggie Challenge this month to get you started. Find details on

For Breakfast:
Make a smoothie. Combine some low fat milk or yogurt, 1/2 cup frozen berries and a banana for a super easy blended breakfast – and 2 entire fruit servings!

Add peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms or onions to your eggs for a delicious omelet.

For lunch or dinner:
Pump up your sandwich with flavorable choices like lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and avocado slices.

Supersize a salad. One cup of leafy greens is a serving; every 1/2 cup of chopped fruits and vegetables is another serving. Add some broiled chicken or steak for a protein serving.

For snacks:
Dip portion sized raw vegetables in low-fat salad dressing, hummus, or peanut butter.
Swap out your afternoon soda for 1/2 cup of 100% juice to squeeze in an extra serving.
Freeze grapes and bananas. Dip half a banana in a small amount of antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.
Bake apples or pears and top with cinnamon and honey.
When eating ice cream or frozen yogurt, pile on 1/2 cup of fresh peaches, mangos or berries.

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Ask An Expert: What Is Mindfulness And Why Should You Try It?

The following was excepted from a Buzzfeed “Ask the Expert” article at

Mindfulness is a growing movement that encourages people to take a minute to notice their body and its surroundings. To get a little more information about mindfulness, what it is and isn’t, and how people new to mindfulness can begin practicing awareness, we spoke with Cheryl Jones — one of Aetna’s wellness program strategy leads, who is trained in mindfulness and completed the Teacher Development Intensive in Mindfulness-Based-Stress Reduction (MBSR).

What is mindfulness?

CJ: Mindfulness is paying attention or noting whatever is happening in the moment with a gentle and open mind. It involves being present in the moment, the one you’re in right now. Mindfulness doesn’t involve chanting, bowing, sitting cross-legged, or burning incense.

How do we practice mindfulness?

CJ: Mindfulness can be practiced formally through meditation where we pause and notice breathing, thoughts, feelings, sensations and surroundings. It can also be practiced informally while driving, during conversations, while exercising, and as you’re eating.

What are the benefits to practicing mindfulness?

CJ: Mindfulness can help lower stress and builds resilience so you can meet the demands of your day with more ease. It allows you to have more clarity to solve problems. Mindfulness can help you be patient with yourself and others. And it can make you more effective and feel happier.

What would you say to people who feel like they’re too busy to practice mindfulness?

CJ: Even five minutes of mindfulness practice can have a powerful impact on your day. If that seems like too much, you can simply pause and pay attention to your breathing a few times as you do the tasks of your day. You can try doing just one task at a time.

What are some introductory mindfulness techniques anyone can practice?

CJ: You can start by trying to come off of “autopilot” and beginning to be more present throughout your day.
For example:

  •  When you wake up, take a few minutes to lie in bed and stretch your body. Notice any sensations.
  • Drive to work with the radio off. Notice your thoughts and feelings as you drive. If someone cuts you off or if you are sitting in traffic, take a breath.
  • As you walk to the office, pay attention to your feet connecting with the ground, even for just a few steps.
  • Take a breath between phone calls and meetings.
  • Try to sit down and relax when you eat your lunch, even if it’s just for five minutes. Avoid eating while driving or working. Take a breath. Notice the color, the texture and the smell of your food. When you think you’re done chewing, chew it five more times.
  • As you talk to people, notice the impact they have on you. Be aware of how your words and attitudes are impacting others, too.
  • Notice if your bedtime routine is relaxing or busy and what your state of mind is when you get into bed.
  • Is there anything people should be aware of before beginning a routine?

CJ: As you start to practice mindfulness you will begin to see things as they are rather than how you wish they were. You may notice some things you want to change. It’s important to be patient with yourself and make one small change at a time.

For people who are interested in a deeper dive into mindfulness, where would you recommend they go?

CJ:Check out yoga or retreat centers in your community to see if they offer mindfulness meditation or group classes to learn about and practice mindfulness.

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Is Tai Chi for you?

What is tai chi?

Tai chi is an ancient Chinese tradition that, today, is practiced as a graceful form of exercise. It involves a series of movements performed in a slow, focused manner and accompanied by deep breathing.

Benefits of Tai Chi

Tai chi has been found to be helpful for strengthening the body, developing better balance, improving flexibility and mobility, calming the mind, and managing stress among other benefits. It is a calming practice that leaves you with a sense of accumulated energy. Tai chi helps coordinate body and breath with gentle flowing movements that are done in a comfortable standing position.

Although tai chi is slow and gentle and doesn’t leave you breathless, it addresses the key components of fitness as well— muscle strength, flexibility, balance, and, to a lesser degree, aerobic conditioning. Is it exercise? Is it meditation? Really, it’s both!

Who can do tai chi?

Tai chi is low impact and puts minimal stress on muscles and joints, making it generally safe for all ages and fitness levels. In fact, because tai chi is a low impact exercise, it may be especially suitable if you’re an older adult who otherwise may not exercise. Tai chi can be easily adapted for anyone, from the most fit to people confined to wheelchairs or recovering from surgery. Women who are pregnant or people with joint problems, back pain, fractures, severe osteoporosis or a hernia should consult their health care provider before trying tai chi. Also, persons with a limiting musculoskeletal problem or medical condition — or who take medications that can cause dizziness or lightheadedness should check with their doctor before starting tai chi. Given its excellent safety record, chances are it will be encouraged.

Getting started

Tai chi is appealing because it’s inexpensive and requires no special equipment. You can do tai chi anywhere, including indoors or outside. You can do tai chi alone or in a group class. Taking a class may be the best way to learn tai chi. Most teachers will let you observe the class first to see if you feel comfortable with the approach and atmosphere.
The Ta’i-Chi Ch’uan Studio located at 2242 University Ave, St. Paul has a free intro class scheduled for Saturday, February 20. At the class, you will be able to explore what tai chi is and why it is so beneficial and fun to practice. An instructor will guide you through tai chi basics so you can experience this art of movement and relaxation in a comfortable way geared towards the beginner.

Visit for more information. You may also be able to find classes at your local Y or community education center.

Excerpted from:
Harvard Women’s Health Watch – the Health benefits of Tai Chi
Mayo Clinic Staff Newsletter – Tai Chi: A Gentle Way to Fight Stress