Today is World Cancer Day

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america-globeFebruary 4th is World Cancer Day – an annual global awareness-raising initiative organized by the International Union Against Cancer (UICC) that shines a spotlight on the small, everyday changes that can lower cancer risk.

AICR welcomes World Cancer Day 2010 as an opportunity to share the vital, life-saving, evidence-based message that we are not powerless before this disease. The evidence is in, and its shows that steps can be taken, by anyone, at any age, to help protect against cancer.

AICR President Marilyn Gentry shares her thoughts on this important day.

Meanwhile, AICR is marking World Cancer Day by launching two translated summaries of our major policy report, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention. This report translates the scientific evidence into clear recommendations that show how all levels of society – government, individuals, schools, workplaces, the media, and more – can work together to reduce cancer incidence around the globe.

Working with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), we’ve produced a Spanish summary of the policy report that tailors recommendations to Latin American countries and regions.

We’ve also partnered with the Brazilian National Cancer Institute (INCA) to produce a Portuguese summary that speaks to the policy makers in Brazil and other countries where cancer rates are rising.

We’re launching both translations today, at events in Washington and Rio de Janeiro.  We’ll keep you posted.

Annual BMI Check-Up?

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Do you know your child’s BMI?

KidsVegetablesThis week, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a recommendation for childhood obesity screening.  The task force recommends that “clinicians screen children aged 6 years and older for obesity and offer them or refer them to intensive counseling and behavioral interventions to promote improvements in weight status.”

Twelve to 18 percent of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 are obese and are at high risk for type 2 diabetes, asthma and even nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.  Obesity also increases risk for certain cancers – so the long term consequences are serious.  Identifying these high risk children is only the first step in making a difference.  The second part of the recommendation – referring them to appropriate programs – is really the key to this report.

The Task Force reviewed over a dozen studies on behavioral programs targeted to overweight and obese children and adolescents.  They found that comprehensive programs using counseling, physical activity programs and behavioral management techniques were successful for modest weight loss that continued for at least 12 months after the program ended.

There are successful models and programs around the country for children and adolescents who struggle with overweight and obesity.  But in areas where these programs aren’t available, what will the clinicians do once they’ve identified at risk children?

Hopefully this report will help spur the growth of effective comprehensive programs that involve the entire family so that any lifestyle and behavioral change made by the child will be sustainable.

What do you think of the new recommendations?  Do you know of any comprehensive programs for children or adolescents in your community?

Train for Your Brain

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Give Your Neurons a Workout
Give Your Neurons a Workout

Physical activity reduces risk for cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  Need another reason to exercise?  Turns out it’s a workout for your brain as well.

Two recent studies looked at exercise and mild cognitive impairment (MCI).  MCI typically involves memory impairment, but can also affect language, attention, reasoning, judgment, reading and writing.

In the first study participants who reported moderate exercise during midlife or later life were less likely to have MCI.   The authors suggest this may be due to production of nerve-protecting compounds, greater blood flow to the brain or other neuronal and cardiovascular benefits.  Although people who are more physically active could also “show the same type of discipline in dietary habits, accident prevention…compliance with medical care and similar health-promoting behaviors.”

The second study followed 29 participants (average age 70) with MCI.  Those randomly assigned to an exercise group, completed 4 days per week of 45 to 60 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity.  The control group did stretching exercises, but maintained low heart rates.

The vigorous exercisers showed improved cognitive function compared to the control group.  The authors point out that this would be a cost-effective practice to improve cognitive performance without the adverse effects of many drug therapies.

Seemingly simple, exercising consistently is difficult for many Americans.  If you’re looking for ideas, AICR offers tips on starting and maintaining a physical activity program.

If you’re already a regular exerciser, how do you manage to fit it in?  Let us know.