From the Field: Working with Survivors for Stronger Bones

dreamstime_xs_12022463Yesterday at our research conference, one popular session focused on bone health for cancer survivors. More than 40 million adults in the US have or are at high risk for osteoporosis, a bone weakening disease.

Often due to some cancer therapies, survivors are at higher risk for bone loss and osteoporosis than the general population.

Breast and prostate cancer treatments may cause low estrogen or androgen levels, two hormones important for strong bones.

Between sessions, I talked with several oncology dietitians about how they work with survivors on bone health in their centers and clinics. While not unanimous, most RDs said their patients are very aware of their increased risk for bone loss and receive DEXA screening — a test for bone mineral density — and treatment, including diet and lifestyle prescriptions as well as appropriate medications. Continue reading


What’s in Your Processed Meat? Finding How it Increases Cancer Risk

If you choose to eat red and processed meats, just how often do you bite into that bologna sandwich or hot dog? What type of pork and beef do you eat? Is it low fat? What brand?

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These are the kinds of answers that studies need in order to better understand how processed meat increases the risk of cancer, says Amanda Cross, speaking at our research conference today.

Cross, a scientist at Imperial College London, noted that the research clearly shows ¬†even small amounts of processed meat — and high consumption of red meats — increase risk of colorectal cancer. A study by Cross also suggests that processed meat increases risk of lung cancer; while diets high in red meat risk increase risk for esophagus and liver cancers.

Historically, the questionnaires used in studies of dietary intake only asked a couple questions on how much red and/or processed meats people typically ate. Now the science needs more.

When it comes to processed meat, researchers are looking closely at nitrate and nitrite. These chemicals, added to many processed meats, lead to potential carcinogens known as N-nitroso compounds. For burgers and other red meats, grilling and broiling them well-done can form heterocylic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hyrdocarbons (PAHs), also potential carcinogens. Continue reading


Little Seeds with Big Taste

PumpkinSeedsSeeds are a healthy plant food. Our Health-e-Recipe for Sweet-Hot Pumpkin Seeds with Autumn Spices turns them into a delicious snack.

Like nuts, seeds contain fiber and healthy fats. They can be used for a garnish, as a crunchy coating for fish and poultry or in baked goods like muffins. Each type of seed has fiber and phytochemicals that provide health protection. For example, flaxseed is being studied for possible breast cancer prevention because of its omega-3 fats.

In this recipe, pumpkin seeds are a healthy treat that provide minerals including iron, magnesium and zinc. During harvest season, some folks like to take them right from the pumpkin, clean them and toast them in their shells. But you can find the tasty kernels already packaged (sometimes labeled “pepitas”).

This recipe mixes pumpkin seeds with anti-inflammatory spices ginger and paprika, along with cinnamon, cloves and a little brown sugar. The spices make a small amount satisfying, so you can eat this healthy snack without going overboard with calories. You could even pre-package individual servings in resealable plastic snack bags.

Find more delicious cancer-preventive recipes at the AICR Test Kitchen. Subscribe to our weekly Health-e-Recipes.