World Cancer Day: Connecting Global Action to Personal Stories

Since 2000, World Cancer Day has been an annual occasion for us to reflect on current progress and future action needed for cancer prevention, detection and treatment. World Cancer Day 2014 statistics show that people who engage in risky but modifiable lifestyle Vivica Kraak_Deakin photo_2013behaviors — smoking, unhealthy alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and a poor diet — will be among the 25 million new annual cases.

Each one of these new cancer cases and cancer deaths has a personal story attached to it. Here is why this year’s World Cancer Day has special relevance and how cancer has affected my life.

In May 2013, representatives of 194 countries at the 66th World Health Assembly in Geneva approved a landmark resolution to reduce non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25 percent by 2025. NCDs, which include cancers, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, are illnesses that are non-infectious, chronic and slow to progress.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Global Action Plan 2013-2020 encourages collaborative partnerships among government agencies, public-interest groups and the private sector to reach this ambitious outcome. Country representatives committed to track and report their progress — using 9 goals and 25 indicators — to create healthy food environments, promote physical activity and strengthen health systems. Continue reading


Does a Cancer-Protective Diet Cost More?

Last week, a lot of headlines featured news about an analysis that found eating the healthiest of diets costs more per day – about $1.50 more – than the least healthy diet.

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The analysis of research was published in BMJ Open and it’s important information for cancer prevention. Eating a diet with plenty of fiber, fruits, vegetables and other healthful foods plays a role in cancer risk and weight. A healthy diet and a healthy weight could prevent approximately 120,000 US cancers each year.

Doing the math, eating the healthiest diets on average cost about $550 more a year than the least healthy. That’s a barrier for many, as the authors point out.

But cancer – along with the other chronic diseases related to an unhealthy diet – has an expensive toll. Globally, cancer costs more than any other disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS.

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Promoting Health Foods in Baltimore Corner Stores

Apples, bananas, granola bars, and 100% whole wheat bread; these were just a few of the healthy food items we promoted in corner stores in Baltimore, Maryland, as part of the B’more Healthy: Retail Rewards program (BHRR) – a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg bigstock-Buildings-and-Mall-in-a-city--25171826(3)School of Public Health intervention project led by Dr. Joel Gittelsohn aimed at improving access and consumption of healthy foods for African American adults living in low-income areas of Baltimore.

Today’s Cancer Research Update has a piece on Dr. Gittelsohn’s work.

Approximately 68% of adults in Baltimore are either overweight or obese, which is higher than the percentage of overweight and obese adults nationally. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of diet-related chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. In Baltimore, these diseases disproportionately affect low-income African Americans who tend to have diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in energy-dense processed fast food and sugary beverages. Continue reading