How Fit is Your City? It Relates to Cancer Prevention

Plenty of parks and active commuting along with relatively low rates of obesity and diabetes have led Washington, DC, to rank as America’s fittest metropolitan area for the second year in a row, finds the latest American Fitness Index survey, released today. Minneapolis and San Diego, ranked only slightly below. Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 2.13.49 AM

The survey is one way residents and policymakers can take steps to lower cancer risk, with many of the measured risk factors related to prevention. Obesity is a cause of ten cancers, and type 2 diabetes links to increased risk of several cancers. Eating fruits and vegetables along with being active — regardless of weight — also reduces risk of several cancers.

The cities that ranked among the least fit face many challenges, including fewer biking paths, parks and physical education school requirements. They also may have less access to fresh fruits and vegetables (farmers markets) and access to public transportation, which generally involves walking.

In Memphis for example, which ranked among the least fit cities, only about 1 percent of residents are taking public transportation to work. And about half the residents reported doing any physical activity in the past 30 days. Compare that to DC, in which 14 percent of the residents are commuting to work by public transportation, and about three-quarters said they were active within the past month.

You can read the full report and see how your city ranks at American Fitness Index.

The survey, by the American College of Sports Medicine and the Anthem Foundation, used primarily government data to look at measures of personal health and community/environmental health. Personal health indicators included the percent of the residents that smokes, is obese, meets government activity guidelines, and eats three or more vegetables a day.

Community health indicators include biking and walking to work, as well as the amount of parks and recreational centers.


Study: Before Colorectal Cancer, Eating Healthy and Following AICR Recs Prolongs Survival

For colorectal cancer, research shows that eating healthy, being active, and staying a healthy weight make a big difference in reducing the risk of developing this cancer. AICR estimates that while there are no guarantees, one of every two colorectal cancer cases can be prevented by following our recommendations.

Now a new study suggests that following AICR recommendations for prevention years before diagnosis can prolong survival for those who do develop colorectal cancer. And every recommendation followed decreased the risk of dying a little more.

The study was published in BMC Medicine.

10-recommendations-infographic Continue reading


Diet Swap Alters Gut Bacteria, Signs of Colon Cancer Risk

What you eat can play a big role in preventing colorectal cancer, with research showing that fiber-filled foods lower risk; red and processed meats increase it. Now a study hones in on how diet can affect risk, showing that swapping a high-fiber healthy diet for a low-fiber western-style diet alters gut bacteria and signs of inflammation that may play a role in colon cancer.Choice between healthy apple and unhealthy hamburger

The study is published in Nature Communications and it adds to a growing body of research on how our bacteria – our microbiota – play a role in cancer risk.

For the study, researchers flipped the diets of 20 African Americans and 20 South Africans for two weeks. All the participants had colonoscopy exams before and after the diet swap.
The Americans were served African-style foods, almost quadrupling their fiber intake to an amount equal to over 3.5 cups of beans. At the same time, they cut their calories from fat in half. Africans went the opposite direction, dramatically cutting their fiber and upping their fat intake.

After two weeks on the African diet, the Americans had less markers of inflammation in the colon while those same markers increased among the Africans eating the less healthy diet. There were also opposing increases and decreases of the compound  butyrate, which forms from digesting fiber and is linked to lowering colon cancer risk. The American group was producing more butyrate; the Africans on the American diet less. Continue reading