Today is February 1st. Do you know what month it is? Not a trick question – this is a very important time for us all here at AICR as February is National Cancer Prevention Month. That means 29 days to shine a spotlight on the need for Americans to embrace and make healthy lifestyle changes to protect their health and reduce their cancer risk – and we are determined to make each day count.
It’s important to us because although there are huge strides being made in cancer treatment with new drug discoveries and precision medicine, these are expensive and come with their own challenges. We have a public health crisis — the number of cancer cases due to obesity and lack of physical activity will reportedly surpass those due to tobacco in 20 years. Prevention has the potential to save costs and suffering — and we need to think broadly about it as an effective strategy.
The chances are that if you are reading this blog, you already know about and take some steps to reduce your own cancer risk as part of your daily life. You might already know that an estimated one-third of US cancer cases could be prevented by eating healthy along with being active and a healthy weight. Many more could be prevented by not smoking and using sun protection. Maybe you try one of our health–e recipes, count your steps or watch your portion sizes on a regular basis. So are we simply preaching to the choir? Read more… “It’s Cancer Prevention Month, Make Each Day Count”
Today the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an editorial that attacks the science behind the U.S. Dietary Guidelines report. It’s a surprising development for several reasons: the BMJ is a prestigious journal, yet the piece contains several basic factual errors, and it arrives just as meat and sugar industry lobbyists are seeking ways to derail the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which government officials are now in the process of writing. The Guidelines have the potential to help prevent thousands of cancer and other chronic diseases.
The piece, written by a journalist who last year published a book called The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in the American Diet, claims the report by the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) “does not take into account all the relevant scientific evidence” and is marked by an “overall lack of sound and proper methods.” It goes on to list several specific studies that weren’t included, and to question the inclusion of observational evidence that does not meet what it considers “established” methods of analysis.
It’s “Back to school” time and that brings challenges in keeping kids active and healthy in the 21st century. In decades past, school provided much more than academic education; it also provided an environment conducive to the development of social and life skills. Lessons learned on the playground included important social skills such as cooperation, teamwork, conflict resolution, and peer communication. Physical education class provided an outlet to release energy, and establish the important lifestyle habit of physical activity on a daily basis.
With recess and physical activity time being cut to make more time for classroom learning, the struggle to keep kids healthy and active is harder than ever before. The sad truth is kids are expected to spend the majority of their day “sitting”, contributing to skyrocketing childhood obesity rates and overall health concerns — including increased cancer risk — for our next generation.
That said, the challenges don’t end when the bell rings. Kids today have succumbed to the “technology takeover”, spending more time living in the “virtual” world than in the real one. While kids in previous generations would play outside afterschool until dinner time, kids today run home to video games, television shows, text messages, and social media, increasing the amount of time they are sedentary.