Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Colon Cancer: Preventable, Treatable, Beatable

(Salt Lake City) – In 2012, 70 percent of Utah adults who answered a survey said they had been screened for colon cancer, an important milestone for the highly-treatable disease.

“But that leaves 30 percent of adult Utahns who haven’t been screened and may have the beginnings of cancer right now,” said Brenda Nelson, Media Coordinator for the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Cancer Control Program (UCCP). “Our ongoing goal is to get every Utah adult screened early, so polyps can be found and removed before they become cancerous.”

Colon cancer is the second-leading cancer killer of men and women in both the United States and Utah. In recognition of March as Colon Cancer Awareness Month, the UDOH and Utah Cancer Action Network (UCAN) are encouraging all Utahns age 50 or over to get a colonoscopy.

“If caught early, 92 percent of colorectal cancers are treatable,” said Kelly Robinson, UCCP health educator. Robinson recommends all Utahns get health insurance coverage, and to stay physically active, which is shown to help prevent many diseases, including colon cancer.
The American Cancer Society estimates there will be more than 780 new cases of colon cancer diagnosed in Utah this year. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicinefound that colon cancer screening is key to survival, because finding and removing precancerous polyps seems to cut the death rate of colorectal cancer in half.

The goal of UCAN is to educate Utahns about how to prevent cancer, encourage them to get screened, and ultimately prevent cancer deaths,” said Lynette Hansen, UCAN chair  “Colon cancer screening should not just be important to men and women over 50, it should be important to anyone who loves or cares about someone over 50,” added Hansen.  “Tell them you love them; tell them to get a colonoscopy.”  

In an effort to raise awareness of colon cancer and the importance of getting screened, activities will take place throughout March, including the annual “Buns Up” 5K Walk/Run hosted by the Mountain West Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates (MWSGNA).

For more information on colon cancer, or for the Buns Up 5K, visit


The mission of the Utah Department of Health is to protect the public's health through preventing avoidable illness, injury, disability and premature death, assuring access to affordable, quality health care, and promoting healthy lifestyles.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Report: Excessive Drinking Causes More Than 500 Deaths Annually in Utah

(Salt Lake City) - Today, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Alcohol-Attributable Deaths and Years of Potential Life Lost by State – 11 States, 2006-2010, in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

The report highlights the collaboration among 11 states (California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin) participating in the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists’ (CSTE) Alcohol Subcommittee. Participating states used CDC’s Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) software to generate alcohol-attributable deaths (AAD) and years of potential life lost (YPLL) estimates resulting from excessive alcohol consumption.

Excessive alcohol use is the fourth leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and, in 2006, cost an estimated $223.5 billion. The report revealed that the highest death rate due to excessive drinking was in New Mexico, and the lowest was in Utah. In Utah, there were an average of 513 deaths and 15,760 YPLL annually from 2006-2010 due to excessive drinking.  Nearly 73% of these deaths involved working-aged (20-64 years) adults.

“The fact that Utah has one of the lowest rates of alcohol-attributable deaths in the nation is not a coincidence,” said Brent Kelsey, Utah Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Assistant Director. “Utah has developed an evidence-based, focused strategy to combat the negative societal effects of excess alcohol consumption. We believe these reasonable public policy decisions help Utah avoid many of the problems that plague other states,” Kelsey added. “However, despite the successes, we need to remain vigilant to save more lives and reduce costs to families and communities.”

“This is a critical report for the states in the study and the nation as a whole,” said Dr. Joanna Watson, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) officer with the Utah Department of Health. “The findings underscore the substantial contribution of excessive drinking to premature mortality both in Utah and across the country.”

The report highlights the ongoing public health impact of excessive drinking and points out geographic and demographic disparities across the country. Deaths and years of life lost are particularly high among American Indian/Native American (AI/NA) populations. For example, in Utah, there were approximately 61deaths per 100,000 population among AI/NA residents compared to 22 deaths per 100,000 population among white non-Hispanics.

Routine monitoring by states of alcohol-attributable health outcomes, including deaths and YPLL, could support the planning and implementation of evidence-based prevention strategies to reduce excessive drinking and its related harms.

For a full copy of the report, visit

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The mission of the Utah Department of Health is to protect the public’s health through preventing avoidable illness, injury, disability and premature death, assuring access to affordable, quality health care, and promoting healthy lifestyles.