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How to Have a Happy Holiday Without Stress or Smoke

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Holidays are supposed to be an enjoyable time when family and friends gather together with food and drinks, but it can also be stressful as people rush from place to place. A cigarette can sound like the perfect way to de-stress, especially during a busy holiday season, but cessation coaches at the Asian Smokers’ Quitline have tips and encouragement for people attempting to quit, or want to stay quit through the season.

“Holidays are fun but they can also be stressful, so it’s important to be aware of triggers and to get extra support,” said Dr. Caroline Chen, project manager of the Asian Smokers’ Quitline. “Let family and friends know that you’re trying to quit, and ask for their support in helping you lead a healthier life.”

Here are some other general tips from cessation coaches on ways to avoid triggers and stay quit during the holidays:

  1. In the midst of holiday busyness, get adequate rest.
  2. Avoid spicy and sugary foods, and alcohol. Holidays are often all about the eating and feasting, but avoid foods that will make you crave cigarettes even more. Eat fruit or less sugary dessert on the menu. As for alcohol, put it away, and instead, reach for a sugar-free seltzer, club soda, or apple cider.
  3. If weather allows, go for a walk. To prevent taking up a new bad habit such as eating whatever you can find to avoid having a cigarette, stay active and exercise.
  4. Spend time with non-smokers. If all your friends are smokers, it may be time to make some new friends. Keep some distance from smokers, and create a community of people who are ex-smokers or non-smokers to help you keep busy and away from smoking.
  5. Having a supportive community is important on this journey. Call the Quitline! Call the Asian Smokers’ Quitline, a free nationwide telephone program for Chinese-, Korean-, and Vietnamese-speakers who want to quit. When you call, a friendly staff person will offer various services: self-help materials, a referral list of other programs, one-on-one counseling over the phone, and a free two-week starter kit of nicotine patches.
  6. Lastly, don’t give up on quitting. You can do it!

About the Asian Smokers’ Quitline:

The Asia Smokers’ Quitline (ASQ) provides FREE, accessible, evidence-based smoking cessation services in Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean and Vietnamese to Asian communities in the U.S. ASQ has been shown to double their chances of quitting successfully. Services are provided by native speakers trained in smoking cessation. Eligible callers receive a free two-week starter kit of nicotine patches.

Health care providers and others in the community are encouraged to refer Asian language speaking smokers to ASQ. To learn more about referring, email asq@ucsd.edu or see the web referral link at www.asiansmokersquitline.org. Smokers can also call ASQ directly or enroll themselves online at www.asq-chinese.org, www.asq-korean.org, or www.asq-viet.org.

ASQ is funded by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and has served over 8,000 callers since it was established in 2012.

ASQ is open Monday through Friday, 7am to 9pm Pacific Time

Asian Smokers’ Quitline
1-800-838-8917 (Chinese)
1-800-556-5564 (Korean)
1-800-778-8440 (Vietnamese)

To learn more about ASQ (in English), visit: www.asiansmokersquitline.org.

At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking.

Charles B. Wang Community Health Center
(212) 966-0461

This post was created by the Asian Smokers’ Quitline (ASQ) of University of California, San Diego


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Let’s Talk About Colon Cancer

 

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Written by Dr. Ady Oster

People do not talk about colon cancer very much.  Perhaps this is because it’s embarrassing to discuss, perhaps because they do not know much about it. That is a shame, because colon cancer is common and it is one of the most preventable cancers.

Colon cancer is the fourth most common cancer among Asian Americans, for both men and women (after breast, prostate, and lung) and (because it is more deadly than prostate cancer) colon cancer is the third most common cause of cancer deaths. While a few people with colon cancer have family members who also had colon cancer, most colon cancer occurs in people who do not have a family history of this cancer.

Cancers occur when a group cells grow out of control. Initially, they remain in one organ forming a lump. In time they can spread to other organs.  Most cancers are much more easily treated when they are still in one organ. Colon cancers start as a polyp. These are small, warty-looking bulges in the inside lining of the colon.  Over time, some of these polyps can become cancers (10% in ten years), invade the lining of the colon, and eventually spreading to other organs. Because polyps are small, they do not cause pain, diarrhea or constipation.  It is impossible to feel polyps.  The only way to know if you have a polyp is by having a doctor look at the inside of the colon.  If polyps are removed, they can no longer become cancer. Therefore, the best way to prevent colon cancer is to have a colonoscopy to look for and remove polyps.

Most polyps and cancers cause bleeding (not visible) into the stool. Usually it is too small to be visible, but it may be detectable with special stool tests. Another way to look for polyps or colon cancer is to have stool tested for microscopic blood. Older tests required eating a special diet for several days and collecting several stool samples. Newer tests do not require any special diet and only one stool sample. If any blood is found, a colonoscopy will be required to find the source of the blood and remove any polyps that are found.  If no blood is found, stool tests will need to be repeated every year in order to provide adequate reassurance that no polyps or cancers are in the colon.

During a colonoscopy, a doctor uses a long, flexible fiberoptic scope to examine the entire colon.  If any polyps are found, they are usually removed at that same time. Since polyps take several years to develop and will take even longer to become a cancer. People without any polyps can safely wait ten years between each colonoscopy. People who do have polyps will need to have colonoscopies more often, depending on how many and how big these polyps were. People are usually sedated for a colonoscopy, so most people do not remember having the procedure.  Unfortunately, in order for doctors to clearly see the lining of the colon, it must be cleaned of any stool. Therefore, people are asked to drink only clear liquid on the day or two prior to the test. On the evening before the test, they need to drink medicine that cleans the stool in the colon by causing diarrhea. This can be uncomfortable for a few hours.

The risk of cancer increases with age. Most people should begin testing for polyps or colon cancer at age 50.  People who have family members with colon cancer should talk to their healthcare provider about the right age to start.

Despite the embarrassment or discomfort, it is important to talk about colon cancer. Talk to your primary care doctor about whether colon cancer testing is appropriate for you.  Talk to your loved ones to make sure they have talked to their doctor about colon cancer. You can make an appointment to meet with a primary care provider here at Charles B. Wang Community Health Center by calling (212) 379-6998 for Manhattan, and (718) 362-3006 (37th Ave) or (929) 362-3006 (45th Ave) for Queens. For more information, visit the internal medicine webpage.

Written by Dr. Ady Oster. Dr. Oster is the section chief of internal medicine at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. He received his medical degree from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and completed his residency training at Yale-New Haven Hospital and University of California at San Francisco. Dr. Oster is board-certified in internal medicine.


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Honor Your Heart by Quitting Smoking

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Written by Michelle Chen

Quitting smoking is tough, and for many, takes more than one try. It may be one of the hardest things to do, but it will be one of the best decisions of your life. In addition to saving thousands of dollars each year, you will protect your family from cancer-causing toxins and live a longer and healthier life. Your heart will benefit from the relief—your risk for heart attack and heart disease will go down when you quit. After one year, your risk for heart disease will be half that of a continuing smoker’s. Over time, it will be that of a non-smoker’s. For American Heart Month, we encourage you to kick the butt for better heart health.

7 Ways to Make Quitting Smoking Easier

  1. Prepare yourself. Have support—from family, friends, a counselor or provider, or an online program—ready by your quit date.
  1. Create new habits. If certain places and situations tempt you to smoke, come up with new routines. Instead of joining your coworkers for a smoke break, tell them you are quitting and take a walk instead.
  1. Use medications. Talk with a counselor or provider about nicotine patches and other medications that can reduce cravings. Many are covered by insurance.
  1. Stay away from that cigarette! There is no such thing as having ‘just one.’ The first puff can make you start back up.
  1. Find a quit buddy. Ask a friend or coworker who smokes to quit with you. Support each other through the quitting process.
  1. Reward yourself. Use the money you have saved from quitting for a movie night or a dinner with your family. Marking milestones can improve spirits for all.
  1. Be kind to yourself. If you start smoking again, don’t be discouraged. You have not failed—you have learned about the triggers and situations that make you smoke. It takes a few tries for most people to quit for good.

We know quitting can be hard, but your health improves the moment you stop. Your loved ones will be thankful for it, too. Are you ready to take the next steps, but don’t know where to begin? Check out more tips and reasons to quit, and learn more about secondhand smoke.

At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking:

You can also get free patches and help from:

This article is made possible with funding from the RCHN Community Health Foundation and adapted from NYCDOHMH’s Health Bulletin.

Michelle Chen is a Health Educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a B.A. in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from Barnard College. She is interested in the intersection of public health and Asian American activism.


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Make Quitting Smoking Your New Year’s Resolution

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Written by Michelle Chen

Every year, people around the world make New Year’s resolutions—to be more active, spend more time with family, eat healthier, and many more. If you are one of the 7 out of 10 U.S. smokers who want to quit smoking, now is the perfect time. 2016 is just around the corner!

7 Reasons to Quit Smoking

  1. Live a healthier and longer life. Smoking can cause heart disease, stroke, diabetes, blindness, and many types of cancer. Smokers killed by tobacco die about 14 years sooner than non-smokers.
  1. Be free of addiction. The nicotine found in tobacco is highly addictive and what makes it so hard to quit. Medication can help you overcome addiction—control it before it controls you.
  1. Improve your family’s health. Secondhand smoke kills. Protect your children, family, and non-smokers around you. Smoke can linger in clothes and furniture and harm children and pets that touch them.
  1. Save money. Think of all the money you could save if you quit. Put that money toward things you need and want, like groceries or taking a family trip.
  1. Feel better. You will breathe easier, have more energy, and enjoy life longer.
  1. Quality of life. Your clothes and home won’t stink. Food will taste better.
  1. Have a healthy baby. Secondhand smoke can cause low birth weight. Babies of women who smoke are more likely to be sick or die and to be born too small or too soon.

We know quitting can be hard, but your health improves the moment you stop. Your loved ones will be thankful for it, too. Are you ready to take the next steps, but don’t know where to begin? Check out our Quit Smoking Today post for tips.

At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking:

You can also get free patches and help from:

This article is made possible with funding from the RCHN Community Health Foundation and adapted from NYCDOHMH’s Health Bulletin.

Michelle Chen is a Health Educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a B.A. in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from Barnard College. She is interested in the intersection of public health and Asian American activism.


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Quitting Smoking is Hard, But You Can Do It!

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Written by Michelle Chen

At the hospital, 60-year-old Mr. Fong lays in bed. He is surrounded by family, but feels great pain from advanced lung cancer. His bones ache and he has little energy. He has no appetite to eat the food his grandchildren have brought. Short of breath, he can barely speak. Just from the look on his wife’s face, he regrets all the years he smoked.

There’s no question about it: smoking increases your chance of getting lung cancer. It not only hurts your lungs but also your heart, eyes, bones, and stomach. You put yourself at risk for serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, and other cancers. When you smoke, you also harm your loved ones. Over time, the toxic fumes left in the air can cause cancer and asthma for those around you. Smoking in another room or by a window is not enough. Smoke can stay in hair, clothes, and even furniture. Children are especially prone to getting sick from secondhand smoke.

This Lung Cancer Awareness Month, take the time to learn about the risks of smoking and what you can do to stop lung cancer in its tracks. No matter how old you are or how long you’ve smoked, quitting now is a big step towards better health. Here’s what you can do:

  • Decide why you want to quit. People quit for many reasons—to improve their health, save money, or protect their family’s health. Remind yourself every day why you’re quitting.
  • Pick a date to quit so you can commit. Avoid a day that may be stressful and when you may feel tempted to smoke. Get rid of cigarettes, ashtrays, and lighters by this day. If you plan to use medication, have it before your quit date.
  • Come up with ways to cope. You may feel irritable, tired, or anxious when you stop smoking. Cope with these feelings by chewing gum or talking to a friend. Avoid people or places that might tempt you to smoke.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek support from your family, friends, coworkers, and quitlines. Talk with a counselor or provider about medication options.

At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking:

You can also get free patches and help from:

Nearly one in four Chinese and Asian American men in New York City currently smokes. To address this serious health issue, the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, Chinese American Medical Society, Chinese American Independent Practice Association, Asian Americans for Equality and NYU Langone Medical Center are working together to educate the community about the dangers of smoking and to help smokers quit. This project is made possible with funding from the RCHN Community Health Foundation. Stay tuned for more tips and resources on quitting.

Michelle Chen is a Health Educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a B.A. in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from Barnard College. She is interested in the intersection of public health and Asian American activism.


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Managing Diabetes – Healthy Meal Planning

If you are living with diabetes, you can still enjoy the dishes you like and be healthy. Food affects blood sugar levels differently in people with diabetes, and so you need to pay attention to the foods you choose. Having a plan helps you manage your diabetes since it keeps your blood glucose level in the target range, and can prevent, delay, or treat diabetes-related problems such as hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperglycemia(high blood sugar), kidney disease, heart and blood vessel problems and eye and nerve problems.

Make a meal plan that works best for you. We recommend keeping a food diary to help you become more aware of when you eat, and checking your blood sugar before or after meals to help you understand how certain foods affect your glucose level. Be sure to share your food diary and blood sugar records with your healthcare team to better understand how well you control your diabetes.

When you plan your meals, choose healthier food options from each of these groups for a well-balanced diet. Be sure to check food labels to know what you eat, so you can make better food choices.

Grains, beans, and starchy vegetables

  • Eat whole grain or whole wheat products like whole grain bread or crackers, bran cereal, oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat spaghetti, buckwheat noodles.
  • Count starchy vegetables and beans in the same group of grains as they are high in carbohydrates, which will increase your blood sugar level. Substitute the grains with yams, potatoes, corn, taro, dried beans, and chestnuts to add the varieties in your meal.  Learn more about counting carbs here.
  • Limit the amount of packaged instant noodles you eat since they are high in fat and salt.

Vegetables

  • Choose more dark green and deep yellow vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, bok choy, choy sum, and bitter melon.
  • Eat fresh or frozen vegetables plain or lightly salted.
  • Avoid preserved vegetables since they are high in salt.

Fruits

  • Eat fresh fruit! Eat whole fruits like apples, peaches, and pears with the skin on. Whole fruits have more fiber than fruit juices, which helps keep you full.
  • Eat more fruits rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, and pomelo.
  • If you eat canned fruit, choose fruits packed in juice or water, not syrup.
  • Limit fruits that have highly concentrated sugar, such as lychee, lungan, or canned fruit packed in syrup.

Meat and protein

  • Eat fish and chicken without the skin. Choose lean cuts of beef, lamb, or pork for red meat.
  • Cut away all visible fat from meat.
  • Eat more tofu, a good source of low-fat protein.
  • Try beans, which provide protein and fiber. If you eat lots of beans, cut down the grain portion of your meal plan.

Dairy and foods rich in calcium

  • Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products like fat-free or low-fat milk, plain fat-free or low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese.
  • If you can’t drink milk, try fortified, plain soy milk. Limit the flavored kinds like vanilla or chocolate that have more sugar and calories.
  • Try other calcium-rich foods, such as tofu fortified with calcium, bok choy, Chinese broccoli, and kale.

Read our Diabetes Healthy Meal Planning pamphlet for many more tips on managing your diet with foods that you love. If you or someone you know is managing life with diabetes, we have more bilingual resources here.


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Get the Flu Shot!

Written by Dr. Perry Pong

Cooler weather is coming back, and so is the flu. Now is the time to get your flu vaccine before flu season (usually from November until April). The flu virus changes every year and this year’s flu shot is different than last year’s.

The vaccine is recommended for everyone aged six months or older. It is especially important for people over the age of 50, children ages six months to 18 years, pregnant women, health care workers, and people working or living with the elderly or young children.

Even after you get the flu shot to keep you and your family healthy this winter, take these everyday steps to protect yourself from getting the flu:

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

Get your shot early—protect yourself from the flu and avoid spreading it to your family and friends. Make an appointment with us to get your flu shot today. For open house dates and to see if you qualify, click here.

Written by Perry Pong, MD. Dr. Pong is the chief medical officer at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. He received his medical degree from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, and completed his residency training at Veterans Affairs Medical Center New York. Dr. Pong is board-certified in internal medicine.