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

Study: For Healthy Habits, Your Environment Matters

Have you ever resolved to eat healthier, only to be tempted by fast food options everywhere you look? Do you think you would exercise more if only you didn’t have to spend so much time in your car?

Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo

Many in the public health community think that factors like these play a big role in what we eat, how much we move, and what we weigh. And many communities have tried to change these factors through so-called “environmental interventions.”

Researchers from Drexel University set out to test whether these environmental interventions work in a study recently published in the journal Obesity Reviews. They conducted a systematic review looking at the impact of various environmental interventions on diet, physical activity, and obesity. Their review included 37 natural and “quasi-“ experiments. About half of these studies focused on diet.

They found that studies involving mandatory changes to the food environment—such as laws banning trans fat in restaurants or requiring healthier foods to be offered in schools—were effective in their intended outcomes. Policies that make it easier for low-income people to use their benefits to buy fruits and vegetables were also effective. Continue reading

Speak Up Now: Voice Your Interests for the New Dietary Guidelines

1_Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 5.25.35 PM

Me giving oral testimony. Click for full video.

Earlier this week, 70+ people – representing interests such as meat, dairy, public health, sugar, vegetarian, spices and sustainability – gathered at the National Institutes of Health to weigh in on what the 2015 Dietary Guidelines should say to Americans about a healthy diet.

I had the opportunity to represent AICR and speak up for guidance that will help Americans more easily make choices to lower their cancer risk. Everyone had 3 minutes to speak directly to experts from USDA and Health and Human Services who will be writing the 2015 dietary guidelines for Americans. You can watch the video here. The Dietary Guidelines (revised every 5 years) are key to how we move forward with dietary advice, and that also affects how food is produced and manufactured in the U.S. Continue reading