Runner’s World Contest Winner: Running through Cancer

Running is a process – and a powerful one, says Scott Spitz, a cancer survivor who is currently featured on the cover of this month’s Runner’s World. A competitive runner, Scott continues to run through treatment for a rare form of abdominal cancer. We talked with Scott about why he runs and how running has helped him grapple with the physical and mental challenges of treatment.Scott Spitz cover

Congratulations on winning the Runner’s World Cover Contest. Why did you decide to enter?

I was a little reluctant to enter because I didn’t want to assume my story was better than others, but I’ve heard from a lot of people who said they gained something from hearing about my experience. I’ve never won anything like this before, and I was humbled and flattered that they recognized the power of my story.

What drew you to running and why have you stuck with it?

I discovered really young that I enjoyed running and had a talent for it. I ran competitively in middle and high school, but then I didn’t run for 13 years after that. I was living in a small town and wanted a physical outlet, so I went for a run and all the experiences came rushing back. I started running regularly again and never stopped. I can cite all the health benefits of running, but ultimately I run because it gives me a sense of accomplishment that has added immeasurable value to my life. Continue reading


Rising Colorectal Cancer Rates Among the Young; Prevention Key

Over the past three decades there’s been a slight but steady decline in colorectal cancer incidence here in the US, thanks in large part to increased screening. Now a study out this week showing that rates of this cancer are increasing among young people — below the typical screening age — highlights the importance of people of all ages adopting healthy behaviors that can halve the risk of colorectal cancer.Picture 83

The study – published in JAMA Surgery – found that among 20- to 34-year-olds, the data indicates incidence of colon and rectal cancer will increase by 90% and 124%, respectively, by 2030. Among the 35 to 49 year olds, rates are estimated to increase by 28% and 46%, respectively.

This large study confirms previous research on incidence trends, and it points to a growing public health problem, the authors note. Lifestyle and behavioral factors such as obesity may be a possible cause.

AICR estimates that half of all colorectal cancer cases are preventable if people were to eat healthier diets, move more and stay lean.

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Does Exercise Help Cancer Patients and Survivors?

There’s consistent and solid evidence that physical activity reduces risk of several cancers — such as colorectal and postmenopausal breast. Data is not as strong when it comes to survival but it’s growing, especially for breast and colorectal survivors.Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 12.23.16pm

That’s the latest from expert Christine Friedenreich, who led off the presentations about physical activity’s effect on survivorship at our research conference today.

Randomized clinical trials (RCTs) are considered the gold standard of studies, which would compare a random group of survivors who follow an exercise intervention to those not doing it. Currently, we don’t have RCTs but there is observational evidence showing benefits, said Friedenreich.

Exercise may supply its benefits in a number of ways: It may help patients complete their treatment or it could help control harms of the therapy. Animal studies suggest exercise may also help the therapy get to the tumor by improving blood flow.

But can the course of exercise alter the course of the disease? Two major studies highlighted will hopefully provide some answers. One is ALBERTA a major observational study focusing on exercise and breast cancer survivors. Then CHALLENGE is a randomized control trial investigating exercise among colon cancer survivors.

Here’s the guidelines from the American College of Sports Medicine on exercise for survivors.

And here’s the latest on our CUP report that came out this month on survival and breast cancer.