The morning research conference session starts out with the tantalizing question of how can delay aging, asked by Rafael de Cabo, PhD. Dr. Cabo, who works at NIH’s National Institute on Aging, said how in the lab, the only way that we can restrict aging so far is by calorie restriction. Caloric restriction also delays tumor formation. (In lab research, caloric restriction diets are usually extreme.)
Caloric restriction seems counter-intuitive, he explains. You would think that lowering one’s calories – energy – would lead to fatigue and the organisms’ functions would shut down. But that is not the case; it somehow uses the energy it has in a different way.
Somehow, Dr. Cabo said, the organism or cell has a way to sense the nutrients. Dr. Cabo presented his lab’s research on the link between a specific gene — Nrf2 – and caloric restriction. He is looking at if Nrf2 activates the effect of calorie restriction, and if so, how it works. As usual, his research is turning up more questions and is ongoing.
More than 14 percent of cancer survivors were first diagnosed more than 20 years ago? That’s why survivors’ visibility is growing, said Julia H. Rowland, PhD, Director of the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Survivorship, along with public demand for rehabilitation programs akin to cardiac patient programs.
“We can’t just ‘treat and street’ anymore,” she said.
Helping people learn what they can do to help themselves stay well with diet, nutrition and physical activity is key to helping them manage cancer and succeed at survivorship. “We need to inform survivors and their families of of cancer prevention strategies because behaviors occur in the context of families,” she added. Leveraging the support of other cancer survivors holds much potential for cancer rehab programs in the future–combined with health care professionals, the insurance industry and government as a prevention and cost-saving measure. Studies are beginning to look at people living longer with cancer and additional health problems that develop with aging.
Registered Dietitian Diana Dyer — a nationally recognized 2-time breast cancer survivor whose endowment benefits AICR — said to “Separate hope from hype or harm” — advice to cancer patients who are overwhelmed by the tidal wave of information when first diagnosed. “Plant foods are powerful,” she said. Making nutrition guidance for survivors a priority is being boosted by a new oncology certification for dietitians offered by the American Dietetic Association.
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