Cancer Survivors: A Growing Population with Evolving Needs

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The number of cancer survivors continues to grow, and is expected to exceed 22.1 million in the United States by 2030, according to a newly published report. As that group expands and includes more people living longer after cancer, we need to expand our way of thinking about survivors’ needs.

Changing Survivorship Concerns
Of today’s cancer survivors, 68% have passed the often-cited mark of five-year survival after diagnosis. In fact, nearly half are more than 10 years out from diagnosis. Cancer survivors can face a variety of additional health issues that vary with the type of cancer and its treatment, age, and health problems that existed or were emerging before cancer diagnosis. The good news is that these challenges are becoming more widely recognized, with whole new branches of oncology care aimed at addressing them.

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How Many Cancers Can be Prevented by Improving Diet?

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A recently published study suggests that over 80,000 cancer cases are caused by poor diet alone (independent of obesity, inactivity and other contributing risk factors) in the United States every year.
Dr. Fang Fang Zhang, a cancer and nutrition researcher at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, set out to estimate the cancer burden associated with poor diet. Dr. Zhang, and her team relied heavily on the best available estimates of cancer risk associated with each aspects of diet; these estimates were provided by the Third Expert Report published by the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).

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Health Benefits of Rhubarb

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Rhubarb is a colorful and flavorful, yet underappreciated, vegetable that is at its peak this time of year. Though not common in most people’s diets, this tart plant may offer cancer-preventive properties in several respects.

The edible part of the rhubarb plant—the stalk—contains anthocyanins, which yield its bright red color. Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid found in foods such as berries, red onions, black beans, red grapes and black plums. They act as antioxidants in test tube studies, but in the human body, their protection seems more likely to come from their role in cancer-preventive cell signaling. Anthocyanins have demonstrated protective effects on blood vessels and blood pressure, and recent research suggests that anthocyanins may offer anti-cancer benefits, too.

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