At the Summit: Partnerships and Actions to Reduce Childhood Obesity

Last week’s 2014 summit of the Partnership for a Healthier America showed inspiring results from a growing number of non-profit, government and corporate collaborations for “Building a Healthier Future.”

The conference focused on how the many sectors in our society can support children – and Americans in general – in reducing obesity levels. And that’s important for cancer prevention, because after not smoking, obesity is the single largest risk factor for cancer.

Celebrating its fourth year, the Partnership’s meeting was graced by uplifting remarks from First Lady Michelle Obama, whose initiative Let’s Move to reduce childhood obesity and increase physical activity and healthy eating in hundreds of schools has been pivotal for the public-private partnerships now expanding that theme. Continue reading


Cancer Prevention: Not Sexy or Hot

One of the most common responses when I tell people the most important things they can do to prevent cancer, based on the scientific evidence, is that the things seem so simple or obvious.Healthy lifestyle concept, Diet and fitness

Maintain a healthy weight. Be physically active. Use sunscreen and sun protective clothing when you can’t choose to be in the shade. Practice safe sex to avoid sexually transmitted infections. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose to spend time in places free of secondhand smoke. Quit smoking if you smoke.

They do sound like health tips. They aren’t sexy or “hot” or “new” like it would be to talk about plastics, pesticides, lotions and the like. But here’s the thing… while we still have plenty of work to do to explore the role those factors might play in cancer, we KNOW that the things above matter. We know that if we implemented those things and a few others, we could prevent at least HALF of all cancers. Continue reading


Mammograms: Putting Headlines in Context

As an organization that focuses on helping people reduce their risk and survive cancer, we’re getting a lot of questions about a major study released this week on mammograms. And if you’ve read about the study questioning the benefits of mammograms, there’s a good chance you’re confused.mammogram_dreamstime_xs_21847816

The Canadian study involving about 90,000 women ages 40-59 was published this week in the British Medical Journal. The study spanned 25 years and during that time about half the women received regular mammograms and annual breast exams; the other half only had the breast exams.

The study found that whether the women received regular mammograms or not, a similar number of women died from breast cancer over the years.

The value of regular mammogram screening has been controversial for awhile– five years ago the United States Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) changed its guidelines, recommending that regular mammogram screening begin at age 50 every two years rather than age 40 every year. As we wrote at that time, AICR’s recommendations relate to the prevention of cancer through diet, weight and physical activity; for screenings, like mammography, AICR’s materials rely on the National Cancer Institute recommendations.

Your own decision about mammography is best made in consultation with your health care provider who can help you weigh the risks and benefits based on your history and personal risk factors.

For more on the study and perspectives from other organizations, here’s a CNN article.

For prevention, AICR’s expert report and it’s continuous updates have found that lifestyle matters. There are specific steps you can take to lower your risk for breast cancers.  For postmenopausal breast cancers, for example:

  • aim to be physically active at least 30 minutes every day,
  • get to and stay a healthy weight
  • avoid alcoholic beverages or if you do drink, limit to 1 drink a day.

AICR estimates that about 38% of breast cancer cases – about 90,000 every year – in the U.S. could be prevented by following those recommendations.

Learn more about the research on reducing risk for breast and other cancers.