Gardening for Survivorship

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As a new dietetic intern at AICR, I enjoyed many thought-provoking presentations at last week’s annual AICR Research Conference. However, just as interesting were conversations we had over lunch and between sessions.

One conversation I particularly appreciated was with author and registered dietitian (RD), Diana Dyer. She is a three-time cancer survivor who changed her own diet and lifestyle for recovery and to help prevent recurrence, as told in A Dietitian’s Cancer Story. Her story has been helpful and inspirational to many cancer survivors.

Now, Diana is an organic garlic farmer in Michigan and as an RD, she shares her nutritional expertise and love of farming with dietetic interns who spend some time with her – and get their hands a little dirty – to learn about growing food.

Why garden? Many cancer survivors find gardening therapeutic, and an important part of the cancer healing process. The physical activity recommendation from the 2007 AICR expert report is to engage in at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Physical activity doesn’t have to be running or lifting weights. Gardening is a great way to be active while doing something you enjoy – that way you’ll be more likely to keep doing it.

There are other reasons to garden too:

  • Know where your food comes from – the interns on Diana’s farm learn what it takes to grow food.
  • Nutritional benefits – freshly harvested (cancer-fighting) foods are generally at peak nutrient levels.
  • Improve the earth – you can compost foods scraps and leaves and then use the resulting humus for healthier soil.
  • It’s a great hobby to re-introduce exercise for those recovering from cancer treatment, and…
  • it’s a lot of fun!

Check out our video on container gardening if you’d like to try your hand at growing food.

Does your local cancer center have a vegetable garden?


    Exercise, Inflammation & Cancer

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    Last week’s AICR research conference made a lot of news when experts released new estimates of how many cases of cancer Americans can prevent through physical activity.

    One of the latest studies on the topic, highlighted at the conference, provided new insights into one way that exercise may help prevent cancer. The study focused on a well-recognized risk factor for cancer: chronic inflammation.

    It was published in last month’s issue of Cancer Prevention Research.

    The study included about 320 healthy post-menopausal women, most of whom were overweight. About half were randomly assigned to an exercise group. For a year, the women exercised five times per week, 45-minutes a session, at a moderate-to vigorous level.

    And after the year, the women who exercised had lower levels of one key sign of inflammation – C-reactive protein (CRP) – compared to the non-exercisers. The more the women had exercised, the lower their CRP levels.

    One possible explanation, the researchers conclude, is the exercise group lost more body fat and weight. Excess body fat increases the risk of seven different cancers, including post-menopausal breast cancer.

    You can read more about activity, inactivity, and cancer through the press coverage that Glen highlighted.

    And you can read more conference highlights here.


      AICR Research Conference Making Headlines

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      We’ve had a busy last few days, as news from our press event coinciding with AICR’s Annual Research Conference got some high-profile coverage.

      CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen did a great in-depth piece about the new findings on activity, sedentary behavior and cancer.  Watch the story here.

      The NBC Nightly News didn’t mention AICR by name, but they did interview Dr. Christine Friedenreich (Note: That’s CHRISTINE Friedenreich, not “Susan,” NBC caption-makers.)  Watch the NBC coverage.

      Really nice Canadian piece on CTV.

      Here’s the USA TODAY article.

      ABC News

      CBS News

      The Washington Post


      Scientific American

      Got some interesting blog coverage, too:




      AICR’s Alice Bender, MS, RD was interviewed on DC’s local FOX affiliate.

      The story’s been picked up by over a hundred other news and print outlets in the last few days, and is still going strong.

      Have you seen the story popping up in any strange/surprising places? Let us know in the comments.