Now, on World Cancer Day, We Already Have the Knowledge, Tools to Prevent So Many Cancers

In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced a “moonshot” program to fight cancer. In charge of that program, Vice President Biden has met with oncologists, scientists, and other leaders in the cancer field, and stated that, “We’re trying to get to a quantum leap on the path to a cure”

Anne McTiernan MD, PhD.

Anne McTiernan MD, PhD.

Much of the focus has been on Big Data, and on sharing science across institutions, in the effort to quickly move results from the lab to the public. In a nation where approximately four in ten people can expect to be diagnosed with invasive cancer in their lifetimes, we need big efforts to fight this disease.

Today, World Cancer Day, is a time to raise awareness of prevention: Cancer prevention needs to be a part of the renewed push against cancer.

Focusing only on the cure is like trying to douse a forest fire on one front while someone is lighting matches on another. The good news is that we already have the knowledge and tools here on earth to prevent a large proportion of cancers from developing, without reaching for the moon.

WCD adAvoidance of known carcinogens (including tobacco, excess radiation, sun and tanning), and use of vaccines for human papilloma and hepatitis B viruses, can prevent a wide range of cancers such as lung, skin, liver, cervix, mouth and throat. Screening and removal of premalignant lesions can prevent several cancers including those of the skin, colon, and cervix. Medications have been shown in clinical trials to prevent breast or prostate cancers in persons at high risk for those cancers. Continue reading


Build a Cancer-Fighting Fridge in Five Steps

Cancer Prevention Month is a great time to make it easier than ever for you and your family to make a habit of choosing healthy, cancer-protective foods for those times you wander into the kitchen looking for a little bite to eat or need a quick meal.

Starting with your refrigerator, re-stocking and rearranging can make all the difference in what you choose. Follow these five steps and you and your family will be on the road to healthier eating and lower cancer risk.

  1. Stock up on carrots, celery, bell pepper, apples and oranges: Produce items like these are cost effective and have minimal waste. Cut up those veggies and fruits, clear off your top fridge shelf and put them on a tray front and center. Place your favorite dip there too, so when you and your kids open the fridge door, you can easily grab a veggies and fruit snack.
  2. Feature creative healthy beverages and ditch the sugary drinks: Sugary beverages contribute to obesity, a cause of 10 types of cancer. You can replace sodas and other sweet drinks with a couple pitchers or bottles of water – plain and sparkling, along with plain black, green or herbal teas. As a family, experiment adding in fruits like lemon, lime or orange slices, frozen berries, a splash of 100%  juice or fresh herbs like basil, mint or ginger slices. Make flavored ice cubes with juice, tea or chopped fruit.
  3.  Use see-through containers for healthy ingredients: Next to the plain yogurt, keep leftover canned fruit chunks, sunflower seeds, nuts and other fruit in see-through containers to inspire a colorful yogurt parfait. Put the peanut butter jar, hummus container and leftover chicken where it’s easy to see and grab.
  4. Fill your freezer with easy-prep veggies and fruit: Frozen greens, peas, corn and other veggies are super easy to steam for a quick side at dinner. Mix frozen fruit chunks and berries for a colorful and healthful dessert or smoothie. Ditch the frozen fries and make room for bags of convenient, affordable frozen fruits and veggies.
  5. Swap out refined “white” grains with cancer-fighting whole grains: Keep whole grain wraps, pitas and sliced bread in the freezer to make a quick sandwich or use the pita or a whole-wheat crust for a healthy homemade pizza. And, instead of white rice, stock up on already cooked frozen brown rice – super convenient as a base for veggie stir-fry or stew.

Now that your fridge and freezer are stocked and ready to go, try these ideas for quick and affordable meals and snacks:

Winter Veggie Pita Pizzas (and other recipes)

Get your free Cancer Prevention Action Planner for 30 steps to better health

AICR Healthy Kids


New Diet Rankings: The Best Ones Look Like… Our Diet for Cancer Prevention

Just in time for your New Year’s resolution to eat healthier and lose weight, US News published Best Diets 2016, a comprehensive review of diets of all kinds, including for overall health, weight loss and chronic disease prevention. They didn’t include lowering cancer risk in their analysis, but I couldn’t help but notice that most of the highest ranking diets would work well with AICR’s New American Plate model – designed for reducing risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.46467264_s

They asked experts in nutrition and weight loss to rate – using the research behind them – how strong the diets are for long and short term weight loss, nutrition, safety, preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease, and how easy it is to follow. The DASH diet (to lower hypertension)won in the most categories, with Weight Watchers ranking highly too. Others scoring well were a diet for brain health (MIND) and for lowering cholesterol (TLC). Continue reading