National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is a great time to talk about one of the most preventable and treatable forms of cancer, if diagnosed early. It may seem intimidating, but a colonoscopy is a very simple test and a big reason why there are more than one million colon cancer survivors in the United States.

A colonoscopy test is a visual examination of the large intestine (colon) using a lighted, flexible video colonoscope. The scope also has a camera to help the physician document findings and notable features.

A colonoscopy is more than just a test. If a polyp is found, it can usually be removed during the exam, thereby eliminating the need for a major operation and potentially preventing the development of cancer. If a bleeding site is identified, treatment can be administered to stop the bleeding. Other treatments can be given through the colonoscope when necessary and further studies or treatments may be recommended.

Colonoscopies also can be used in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of other issues, such as:

  • Abdominal pain, discomfort or change in bowel habits
  • Chronic diarrhea or constipation
  • Colitis (Ulcerative or Crohn’s)
  • Diverticulosis and Diverticulitis
  • Alternative tests to a colonoscopy include a barium enema or other types of X-ray exams that outline the colon and allow a diagnosis to be made. In addition, study of the stool and blood can provide indirect information about a colon condition. These exams, however, do not allow direct viewing of the colon or removal of polyps or biopsies to be done.

    If you’re at risk for colon cancer because of age, medical history or family history, talk to your doctor. They can help you determine which test is right for you.

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As all parents and caretakers know, a car seat is mandatory for young children and infants. But what do you do when your child has outgrown their seat, or it’s expired or been in an accident? There are approximately 12 million car seats purchased in the US every year, many of those ending up in landfills once they’ve been retired.

90% of the materials, by weight, can be recycled. There are two locations in Ann Arbor that accept retired car seats for recycling, which are listed below.

Why does a car seat expire or become unusable after a car accident? They expire because the plastic materials they’re made of degrades over time from ultraviolet light, which weakens the effectiveness of the frame to withstand impact in a crash.

They’re unusable after an accident, even if they look fine, for similar reasons. Think of the car seat like an airbag- it’s there to save your child’s life. You have to replace your airbag after a crash because it can no longer withstand impact and help save your life- it’s only useful for one crash. A car seat is the same. It may look like it hasn’t sustained any damage, but there could be cracks or fractures in the plastic that puts your baby’s life at risk in the event of another crash.

To properly dispose of a car seat, you should strip the entire seat of the cover, the straps, disassemble everything and cut the straps. It’s also recommended you write all over the plastic base something like “EXPIRED” or “CRASHED” in permanent marker, to stop someone from trying to use it. There are two locations in Ann Arbor that accept car seats for recycling: Drop-off station on East Ellsworth, and the recovery yard on Jackson Road. For more information visit Recycle Ann Arbor.

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By the time they reach 8th grade, nearly 50% of all adolescents have had at least one alcoholic drink with over 20% report having been drunk. In addition to being illegal, underage drinking poses high risks. While your child is young, there are significant changes in the body, including rapid hormonal changes and the formation of new networks in the brain. Young adults are extremely vulnerable to alcohol-related brain damage. The immediate and long-term risks associated with underage drinking continue to show the need for prevention and treatment programs.

The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (link) of more than 13,000 high school students nationwide found that in the past 30 days:

  • 35% drank at least one drink containing alcohol
  • 21% drank five or more drinks containing alcohol
  • 6% drank 10 or more drinks containing alcohol in a row
  • 10% drove after drinking alcohol
  • 22% rode with a driver who have been drinking alcohol

As a parent, you should feel comfortable talking to your children about underage drinking, the risks and the consequences. Often, teens do not consider consequences when making choices like to drink underage, because they do not believe they could get in an accident, or drink so much they pass out. However, alcohol related crashes are greater for drivers aged 16-20 than drivers 21 and older.

Peer pressure plays a huge role in underage drinking, as well as how alcohol is portrayed in the media. Your relationship with your children, how you discipline them, how you communicate with them and your involvement in their life are all huge influences in their choice to drink underage – or not. Communicate with your children, be involved in their lives. Encourage their growing independence, but set appropriate limits. Make it easy for them to share information about their lives, and share information about yours. Perhaps you engaged in risky behavior as a teen that you would like to make sure they do not repeat. You could be open about your teenage years and experiences. But do not glamourize any underage drinking you may have done, and be sure to tell them about the great experiences you had without drinking.

Help your children practice ways to say no to their friends: “No thank you, I’m fine,” or “I’d rather be sober,” are great places to start. Set clear rules about alcohol use and enforce the rules you set.

You need to be a positive role model for your children as well. If you drink, drink responsibly. That means not too much or too often. Do not drive when you have been drinking. Get help if you think you have a problem. And do not give alcohol to your children.

If you have any questions about how to start the conversation with your children, ask their pediatrician. They may have suggestions or resources that will help you along the way.