Novem­ber up for grabs for aware­ness

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - NEWS - Gor­don Glantz Colum­nist

Oc­to­ber is now in the books. We’ve carved our pump­kins, gone trick-or­treat­ing, raked our leaves (well, not me) and ush­ered in the start of the NHL and NBA sea­sons.

Most im­por­tantly, we’ve seen enough pink to make us think long and hard about the rea­son: Breast Cancer Aware­ness. While we shouldn’t forget that men can con­ceiv­ably get breast cancer, 99 per­cent of cases are women.

That’s our wives, our moth­ers, our daugh­ters, our sis­ters, our dear­est of friends.

That could be why the most ma­cho of men let down their guard and wear pink shirts, ties, caps, etc.

While breast cancer owns Oc­to­ber, in terms of aware­ness, there are other wor­thy causes — den­tal hy­giene, dis­abil­ity em­ploy­ment, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and oth­ers – that of­ten fly too far un­der the radar.

Once the cal­en­dar flips to Novem­ber, the same holds true, but there is no clearcut dom­i­nant cause.

Let us look at a few (al­pha­bet­i­cally) – and ex­clude the lesser se­ri­ous ones (Na­tional Ge­or­gia Peach Month, Na­tional Novel Writ­ing Month, Na­tional Pep­per Month, Na­tional Ve­gan Month) – that claim Novem­ber to raise aware­ness:

Avi­a­tion Month: Yawn! Lit­er­ally, since the glo­ri­fied sta­tion wag­ons with wings of­ten jar me from my af­ter­noon naps as they fly into nearby Wing’s Field, I’m sleep de­prived. Wake me up when they in­vent some­thing that can reach outer space (Star Trek had us there al­ready). I’ve seen enough Wright Bros. repli­cas in mu­se­ums to last a life­time.

Good Nutri­tion Month: When ev­ery cor­ner has a pizza place or a fast-food burger joint, it’s hard to re­sist the temp­ta­tion to less than healthy. Still, a lit­tle aware­ness can go a long way. Ex­am­ple: The U.S. ranks 31st in life ex­pectancy, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, at right around 79 years old — af­ter rank­ing at, or near, the top in the 1960s. There are a lot of con­tribut­ing fac­tors, such as the air we breathe and the stress we put our­selves un­der, but eat­ing right isn’t a bad place to start. Tough to do it all the time, ev­ery time, but I try when I can to go with the health­ier choice with­out be­ing ridicu­lous – or an­noy­ing — about it.

Hunger Aware­ness Month: In what is sup­posed to be the wealth­i­est coun­try in the world, too many peo­ple ei­ther go hun­gry or lack ac­cess to healthy food. It is called “Food In­se­cu­rity,” and USDA re­ports that 21 per­cent of house­holds with chil­dren deal with what is de­fined as “lack of ac­cess to food” at all time for all fam­ily mem­bers. While hard sta­tis­tics weren’t kept dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion, this is in the same ball­park.

Na­tional AIDS Aware­ness Month: AIDS has mor­phed into more of a chronic dis­ease than a death sen­tence, and cases have dropped 8 per­cent be­tween 2010 and 2015, ac­cord­ing to HIV.gov. Nev­er­the­less, an es­ti­mated 1.1 Amer­i­cans have AIDS and, more stag­ger­ing, 1 in 7 are un­aware. It is also more preva­lent in cer­tain re­gions, such as south­ern states (38 per­cent).

Na­tional Amer­i­can In­dian Her­itage Month: The an­ces­tors of those who were here long be­fore the Vik­ings or Christo­pher Colum­bus, pre­fer to be called Na­tive Amer­i­cans, In­dige­nous Peo­ples of the Amer­i­cas or First Na­tion. They de­serve that much, should a month hon­or­ing their her­itage take off. The Trail of Tears has yet to dry, but there are rays of hope. On Tues­day, Sharice Davids of Kansas and De­bra Haa­land of South Dakota be­came the first two Na­tive Amer­i­can women elected to Congress.

Na­tional Di­a­betes Aware­ness Month: I may be bi­ased, since I am one of the grow­ing num­ber of Amer­i­cans (1.5 mil­lion per year) with this “pre-ex­ist­ing con­di­tion.” When I was border­line, doc­tor’s or­ders were diet and ex­er­cise. Yeah and right. What de­serves more at­ten­tion is the way the Amer­i­can Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion has cho­sen to de­fine what is or is not di­a­betes. What was border­line 5-10 years ago, is con­sid­ered di­a­betic now. While I’m also happy to re­port that my own num­bers are, more or less, more “nor­mal” than when I was di­ag­nosed, I will be for­ever branded as a type 2 di­a­betic. I don’t want to be say­ing there is a con­spir­acy go­ing on with the drug and in­sur­ance in­dus­tries to keep peo­ple la­beled for their own ends, but it is worth dis­cussing around your own sug­ar­free din­ner ta­ble. Make no mis­take, aware­ness is gar­gan­tuan. The Amer­i­can Di­a­betes As­so­ci­a­tion es­ti­mates that of the 30.4 mil­lion Amer­i­cans (9.4 per­cent) with di­a­betes, an­other 7.2 mil­lion are un­di­ag­nosed.

Na­tional Peanut But­ter Lover’s Month: This one hits close to home. My daugh­ter Sofia has a peanut but­ter al­lergy and, for what­ever rea­son, she is far from alone in her gen­er­a­tion. Stud­ies re­veal a 21 per­cent in­crease since 2010, with 2.5 per­cent of all chil­dren hav­ing a peanut al­lergy (ac­count­ing for more than half of food al­ler­gies in kids). This is al­most like hav­ing a Na­tional To­bacco Lover’s Month, is it not?

Na­tional Red Rib­bon Month (anti-drunk driv­ing): I’m not a big fan of the word great, but great work has been done in this area the last few decades. Des­ig­nated driv­ers, DUI check­points, bar­tenders cut­ting peo­ple off and call­ing a cab, etc. At­ten­tion se­ri­ously needs to ei­ther shifted to, and some­how be con­nected with, the scourge of dis­tracted driv­ing (es­ti­mated 3,200 fa­tal car wrecks a year, ac­cord­ing to DMV.org).

Sum­mary: While there is no over­rid­ing cause (i.e. Breast Cancer in Oc­to­ber), take time to con­sider many of the above (even when a sin­gle-en­gine plane is wak­ing you up from your nap). There are a lot of in­ter­con­nect­ing parts in the area of food and nutri­tion. Those go­ing hun­gry, or who are not prop­erly nour­ished, don’t eat as well and put them­selves more at risk for di­a­betes (the Na­tional In­sti­tutes of Health re­ports an in­crease of 1.8 in type 1 di­a­betes and 4.8 in type 2, which is less ge­netic and more the re­sult of eat­ing un­healthy and lack of ex­er­cise). Then again, while there are health ben­e­fits to peanut but­ter, let’s work to make school cafe­te­rias peanut-free zones. Gor­don Glantz is a free­lance writer, award­win­ning colum­nist and song­writer. Fol­low his blog at www.in­gor­donville.com

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