Cancer Prevention Begins at Your Kitchen Table: Transforming the Cancer Agenda

Half of cancers – one of every two cases – can be prevented and so often it’s about applying what we already know. That was the simple but powerful message at the first Cancer Prevention Summit held by the New York State Department I attended last week. The overarching message of the Summit was simple: 50% of cancers can be prevented and in New York State, where approximately 35,000 people die from cancer each year, primary cancer prevention is an urgent public health priority.

50-infographic-bigExperts spoke about vaccinating against HPV and preventing tobacco use, two major causes of cancers. What fewer people may know is there are concrete things that we can do to reduce our risk. Maintaining a healthy weight, engaging in regular physical activity, and eating well can prevent approximately one of three of the most common cancers.

Summit highlights included:

Shift the discussion to the notion that “cancer is preventable.” Begin to focus effort and awareness on risk reduction through modifiable lifestyle habits. This includes eating a predominantly plant-based diet, achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, using sunscreen, participating in cancer screening, and avoiding tobacco use and heavy alcohol. Continue reading


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.


Exercising Daily 15 Minutes and More, Reduces Liver and Belly Fat

We’ve been talking a lot about preventing liver cancer here with the release of our new report. Among other factors, the report concluded that obesity increases risk of liver cancer —  a cancer that can stem from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

bigstock-overweight-woman-riding-bicycl-21670745Now comes a study that suggests overweight adults who do even 15 minutes of daily exercise —regardless of intensity or weight loss— can reduce the risk of both liver fat and belly fat, compared to those who are inactive. Belly fat, also called visceral fat, is a sign of poor metabolic health and another risk factor for many cancers.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has become the most common cause of liver disease in the US; it can lead to cirrhosis, which could develop into cancer. People with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease have extra fat in their liver that doesn’t come from alcohol. Weight loss and exercise are the basic recommendations for obese people who have NAFLD. But what intensity exercise and how much was the focus of this study. Continue reading