For Men’s Health Week: Screening for Prevention

Today starts Men’s Health Week and it is actually a great time for cancer prevention for men. You might not think so with all the controversy surrounding PSA testing, but we are making enormous leaps in the ability to detect cancers early when they are most treatable in two of the leading causes of cancer death in men – lung and colorectal.

Colorectal Cancer. We’ve had great screening options for colon and rectal cancers for years. Depending on your preferences and a conversation with your physician as to which test is best for you, there are three evidence-based approaches to colorectal cancer screening: fecal occult blood testing (FOBT or stool test), colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy.

1. FOBT is a non-invasive test that needs to be done every one to two years. If your FOBT test comes back positive (for blood), your doctor will send you for diagnostic testing, which is done via colonoscopy.

2. Colonoscopy can be both a screening test and a diagnostic test. In a colonoscopy, the entire colon and rectum are examined using a lighted scope. Precancerous and cancerous lesions can be biopsied and removed during the test. Colonoscopy typically requires some form of sedation and a thorough cleansing of the colon. Continue reading

From Cabbage to Garlic: Veggie and Fruit Variety May Prevent Lung Cancer

For smokers, there is no question that quitting smoking is the most important way to reduce the risk of getting lung cancer. (Smoking accounts for about 90 percent of lung cancer cases.) But a large new study suggests that eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help prevent the disease, especially for smokers.

The study was published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention; go here to read the abstract.

In the study, researchers used data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), a study of about half a million participants in 10 European countries. The scientists separated participants by categories depending upon how many of 14 fruits and 26 vegetables they had eaten in a two-week period. Those in the top category ate between 23 and 40 different types of fruits and vegetables; those in the lowest category ate less than 10 different types.

After following participants for an average of almost 9 years, the study found that – regardless of the amount – increasing variety of fruits and vegetables was linked with reduced risk of lung cancer, especially for smokers. Consuming the greatest mix of vegetables reduced the risk of lung cancer 27 percent among current smokers. And smokers who ate the greatest variety of fruits and veggies were significantly less likely to get squamous cell lung cancer, a common type of lung cancer.

Because each fruit and vegetable contains a unique set of bioactive compounds, the study authors note that consuming a wide variety as well as the recommended amounts makes sense for health benefits.

Previous research has suggested the quantity of fruits and vegetables may also play a role in reducing lung cancer risk. AICR’s expert report found that diets high in fruit and foods containing carotenoids probably lower the risk of lung cancer. Carotenoids, often yellow or orange-colored, are found in many fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.

For those who want strategies on adding different fruits and veggies to your meals, visit AICR’s Test Kitchen.

For anyone who needs help quitting smoking, the National Cancer Institute has a site that may help.

Preventing Lung Cancer: Stop Smoking and …?

When people think of ways to prevent cancer, lung cancer is often the first that comes to mind. Everyone by now knows that smoking and tobacco use can cause lung cancer (along with oral cancers): and so it stands to reason that not smoking will prevent it.

Yes, the vast majority of lung cancers are caused by smoking. But in an interesting series on lung cancer, the New York Times started with a piece highlighting how 10 to 15 percent of lung cancer patients have never smoked at all.

While research is looking at why some non-smokers get lung cancer, and there are several possibilities, one potential way everyone can protect himself against the disease is through a healthy diet. AICR’s expert report found that diets high in fruit and foods containing carotenoids probably lower the risk of lung cancer. Carotenoids are in a lot of fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death. More people die of lung cancer than from cancers of the breast, prostate and colon combined.

You can read more about lowering lung cancer risk in Cancer Research Update.

For help quitting smoking, one resource is the government’s smokefree site.