Advice on health screenings and habits for the New Year

GLENN ELLIS | 1/6/2019, 1:06 p.m.
Staying healthy in the New Year is an important resolution, but many adults tend to bypass preventive exams and screenings ...
Dr. Patricia Back examines Sherri Stone during a yearly check-up at the West End Health Care Center Inc. Carrie Cochran of The Cincinnati Enquirer

Women should have a bone density test for osteoporosis at age 65. Most people have no bone loss or have mild bone loss. Their risk of breaking a bone is low so they do not need the test. They should exercise regularly and get plenty of calcium and vitamin D. This is the best way to prevent bone loss.

Men should discuss having a prostate test and exam with their doctors by age 50 and by age 45 for those at high risk for prostate cancer, such as African Americans and those with a family history. While high PSA levels can be a sign of prostate cancer, a number of conditions other than prostate cancer can cause PSA levels to rise.

These other conditions could cause what’s known as a “false-positive” – meaning a result that falsely indicates you might have prostate cancer when you don’t. The PSA test isn’t the only screening tool for prostate cancer. Digital rectal examination – known as DRE – is another important way to evaluate the prostate and look for signs of cancer.

Men and women should have their physician check for skin abnormalities when already receiving a physical examination. People of all colors, including those with brown and black skin, get skin cancer. When skin cancer develops in people of color, it’s often in a late stage when diagnosed.

The good news is you can find skin cancer early. Found early, most skin cancers, including melanoma, can be cured.

If you wear glasses, have a family history of vision problems or have a disease that puts you at risk for eye disease, such as diabetes, have your eyes checked frequently. A healthy adult with no vision problem should have an eye exam every five to 10 years between 20 and 30 years of age, and every two to four years between 40 and 65 years of age.

This year, resolve to take better care of yourself than before. Be sure to get the screenings you need to prevent and catch potential health problems before they become major concerns.

If you are aiming for a more healthful 2019, the most important things to know are your numbers – including your weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, body mass index and cholesterol.

Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one.

Take good care of yourself and live the best life possible!


This column is for informational purposes only. If you have a medical condition or concern, please seek professional care from your doctor or other health professional. Glenn Ellis is a health advocacy communications specialist and is available through http://www.glennellis.com.