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Anal cancer is cancer that arises in the anus or the opening of the rectum where feces exits the body.

Anal cancer has been on the rise over the decades due to papillomavirus (HPV), which is the major risk for anal cancer. Anal cancer is not to be confused with colon cancer or rectal cancer.

Risk factors for anal sex

Receptive anal sex increases the risk of anal cancer in both men and women. Men who have sex with men have a higher risk of anal cancer than women. Even men who practice safe sex using condoms have a higher risk of anal cancer due to the increased friction in a very sensitive area that tears easily.

Anal sex transmits HPV which causes anal cancer. Skin to skin contact also transmits HPV.

"Unfortunately, HPV can also be transmitted to the anus through anal intercourse and cause cancer there," San Diego-based gynecologist Christine Sterling told POPSUGAR.

The anus is not a sex organ and does not self-lubricate like the vagina. You should use plenty of lubricant to cut down on the risk of friction and transmitting the HPV virus.

Should I use enemas before anal sex?

Some people use enemas before anal sex to evacuate the colon to reduce accidents.

The anus is attached to the rectum, the last portion of the colon (large intestine) where remaining water is absorbed into the bloodstream drying out the feces before it leaves the body. If stool too quickly moves through the colon (without the remaining water being removed), it will cause diarrhea or watery stools. If not enough water is removed, it will cause constipation.

This is why you should avoid enemas or colonics which disturb the intestinal process of removing just the right amount of water and absorbing it back into your bloodstream.

What are symptoms of anal cancer?

The first sign of anal cancer is bleeding after a bowel movement. You will notice pink or red stains on toilet paper after wiping. Also, you may notice frank red blood on the bowel movement in the bowl.

Other signs or symptoms include a lump near the anus, pain, itchiness, a change in bowel movements or discharge from the anus.

Pencil thin stools can be a sign of anal cancer, colon cancer, or hemorrhoids. Hemorrhoids itself is not cancer but it can be a risk for cancer.

Most symptoms usually don't appear until the cancer has advanced to stage 2 or 3. Your doctor should check for anal cancer annually as part of your physical exam. Early detection of anal cancer can be done in your doctor's office. Your doctor might give you a diagnostic test to take home with you. The consists of sticks to take a stool sample and cards to smear the sample which will be sent to a lab.

This has been your Medical Minute.

DISCLAIMER

Any medical information published on this blog is for your general information only and is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice. You should not take any action before consulting with your personal physician or a health care provider. Sandrarose.com and its affiliates cannot be held liable for any damages incurred by following information found on this blog.

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Christmas is a holiday tradition filled with joy and laughter. But it can also be a very stressful time for many, especially women.

Studies show that half of all women in America say they feel stress or anxiety during the Christmas holidays. Increased stress puts our health at risk.

Almost half of the women manage their stress by eating and drinking to excess. This excess can lead to extra pounds gained after the holidays.

Here are 10 simple tips to eliminate stress and get you through the holidays so you can be merry and light.
 

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1. Exercise

If you feel the stress of shopping, cooking and cleaning over the holidays, just stop, drop and take a little time to exercise the stress away. Exercise reduces anger, tension, fatigue and confusion by lowering your body's stress hormones such as cortisol. Exercise also releases endorphins which help to improve your mood and acts as natural painkillers.
 

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2. Squeeze your stress away!

Squeeze your stress away with stress balls. Stress balls work by keeping your hands busy so your mind will relax your body. If you don't have a stress ball, you can make your own stress balls from common household items.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the fleshy spot between your index finger and thumb is called the hoku spot. Apply pressure there for 30 seconds to relieve tension in your upper body.
 

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Photos by Sandra Rose/Sandrarose.com

3. Hug your stress away!

Our arms were designed for hugging. Hugging relieves stress and anxiety by releasing a hormone in our bodies called Oxytocin. Researchers call Oxytocin the "cuddle hormone" because levels of the hormone rises when we hug. Oxytocin not only relieves stress, it also lowers blood pressure and decreases the stress hormone norepinephrine. If you're feeling a little stressed, hug it out!
 

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4. Light a candle

Burning essential oils or a scented candle can put us in a relaxed mood and reduce our feelings of stress. There are many varieties of candles and scents that calm and sooth our nerves and relieves stress. Aromatherapy can also improve sleep. Some of those scents include:

  • Lavender
  • Rose
  • Bergamot
  • Roman chamomile
  • Frankincense
  • Sandalwood
  • Orange or orange blossom
  • Geranium
  •  

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    5. Reduce your caffeine intake

    We can reduce stress by watching what we eat and drink. Some food and beverages increase our anxiety because they contain stimulants. Caffeine is a stimulant that can wreak havoc in our bodies. If you're feeling jittery, anxious or your hands tremble, you're probably consuming too much caffeine and other stimulants. To improve your stress levels, avoid coffee, tea, chocolate, and energy drinks during the holidays. Try drinking water, almond milk, soy milk, or coconut milk instead.
     

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    6. Chew gum

    Chewing sugarless gum is a quick and easy way to relieve stress. Studies show that people who chew gum have a greater sense of calm and well-being.
     

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    7. Spend time with family and friends

    Having a strong family support system can help you get through the stressful holidays. If you don't have family, there are many organizations where you can volunteer, such as children's hospitals, nursing homes, rescue animal shelters, etc.
     

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    8. Laughter

    They say laughter is the best medicine. Laughing helps to relieve stress by relieving tension in your muscles. Laughter also helps your immune system. A study of cancer patients found that patients who laughed experienced more stress relief than those patients who were simply distracted. If you're feeling stressed over the holidays, watch the comedy film Coming To America or a funny TV show. Or hang out with family and friends who make you laugh. Laughing is good for the heart too. No one ever actually dies laughing.
     

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    9. Learn to Say No

    You're probably the responsible family member who saves your money - and everyone knows it - so they come to you for money to buy Christmas gifts or pay their credit card bills. Juggling other people's problems is very stressful and unfair to you. The next time a family member or friend asks you for a "loan," just say "no." Saying "no" helps to relieve your stress in the long run.
     

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    10. Stop procrastinating!

    Procrastinating increases your stress levels by forcing you to scramble to catch up to pay that late bill, which causes stress. Stop procrastinating. Take control of your life by planning ahead and setting goals. Stay on top of your priorities. Buy yourself a notepad or a dry eraser board and keep track of your bills, doctor's appointments, yearly mammograms (if you're over 40), etc. Give yourself easy tasks to do. Make a to-do list and then go down the list and check things off as you complete them. Always give yourself time to complete the to-do list.

    Merry Christmas!

    Sources: Belmar Pharmacy, Healthline.com

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