Some Personal Thoughts on World Cancer Day

Here at AICR, we’re only too aware that behind the statistics – the millions of cancers occurring each year around the globe – there are human lives. Each of those lives tells a unique story.WCD_Logo_GREYSCALE

They’re stories of brave individuals and concerned families. Stories of tireless caregivers and compassionate doctors. Stories of researchers working to make the kind of discoveries that will produce breakthroughs in cancer prevention, treatment and survival. And stories of policy makers and health educators, striving to combat this disease in ways that stand to benefit the world at large.

Most of us have our own stories that help shape the lens through which we view cancer.   My aunt never once used the actual word when she had a recurrence of breast cancer that spread to her bones after an 8 year period of being all clear. She was from a generation that didn’t make a lot of fuss. Continue reading

World Cancer Day: Connecting Global Action to Personal Stories

Since 2000, World Cancer Day has been an annual occasion for us to reflect on current progress and future action needed for cancer prevention, detection and treatment. World Cancer Day 2014 statistics show that people who engage in risky but modifiable lifestyle Vivica Kraak_Deakin photo_2013behaviors — smoking, unhealthy alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and a poor diet — will be among the 25 million new annual cases.

Each one of these new cancer cases and cancer deaths has a personal story attached to it. Here is why this year’s World Cancer Day has special relevance and how cancer has affected my life.

In May 2013, representatives of 194 countries at the 66th World Health Assembly in Geneva approved a landmark resolution to reduce non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by 25 percent by 2025. NCDs, which include cancers, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes, are illnesses that are non-infectious, chronic and slow to progress.

The World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) Global Action Plan 2013-2020 encourages collaborative partnerships among government agencies, public-interest groups and the private sector to reach this ambitious outcome. Country representatives committed to track and report their progress — using 9 goals and 25 indicators — to create healthy food environments, promote physical activity and strengthen health systems. Continue reading

Reflections about Nutrition on World Cancer Day

We don’t need special foods for cancer prevention.WCD_Logo_RGB_2012

Buckminster Fuller was a true genius of our times, but he nearly killed himself with a special diet. He reasoned that because mankind was at the top of the evolutionary ladder he should also be at the top of the food chain, so for several weeks he ate only meat. After his collapse and hospitalization for kidney failure he decided he might be wrong about that. Because Steve Jobs occasionally purged himself by eating only fruit, and was a creative and successful man before he succumbed to pancreatic cancer, the actor Ashton Kutcher reasoned that a fruit-only diet might be a good idea. After his recent hospitalization for pancreatitis caused by that diet, I suspect he is now re-thinking that idea too.

I am an epidemiologist with a particular interest in studying how nutrition affects one’s risk of getting cancer. Over the past 30 years I have many times been struck by the constant parade of ideas about how cancer risk might be reduced by eating special foods, by taking special supplements, or by adopting particular cuisines.

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