Cancer Prevention News

/ May 20th, 2011/ Posted in Cancer News / No Comments »

Volunteers needed for study on cancer prevention

Here’s a chance to be a part of history – by eventually making cancer part of the past, the American Cancer Society hopes.

ACS wants to recruit 500,000 U.S. adults ages 30-65, from all races and ethnic backgrounds, for a massive, lengthy study on cancer prevention. Participants should be willing to commit to the Cancer Prevention Study-3 long-term and should not have previously been diagnosed with cancer. The study’s purpose is to improve understanding of the lifestyle, behavioral, environmental and genetic factors that cause or prevent cancer.

People can sign up at today’s Sevier County Relay for Life fundraiser, 6-10 p.m. at Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge. There they will read and sign a consent form, complete a brief survey, provide some physical measurements and give a small blood sample.

Later, at home, they’ll complete a more detailed survey. Then, they’ll periodically be asked to update it.

Coffee for cancer prevention: good idea?

It’s nice when sinful foods turn out to be not so sinful, and coffee has been earning high marks lately on the nutrition front — to the point that some are now calling it a health food. Adding to the growing evidence is a study published yesterday in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which found that drinking copious amounts may reduce the risk of dying from prostate cancer.

“Those in the study who drank one to three cups of coffee a day had a 30 percent lower risk of lethal prostate cancer,” says study author Kathryn Wilson, an epidemiologist at Harvard School of Public Health. “The ones who drank six cups a day had a 60 percent lower risk.”

That’s a heck of a lot of coffee — consumed by just 5 percent of the men in the study, which was comprised of nearly 48,000 male health professionals. But it didn’t matter whether the coffee was caffeinated or decaffeinated, Wilson tells me, to get the prostate cancer benefit.

(No way to know, though, whether brewed was better than instant since the vast majority of the participants drank brewed.)

Women coffee drinkers may also have some protection against breast cancer. Swedish researchers reported last week that women who drank five or more cups of coffee a day had about a 55 percent lower likelihood of developing a less common type of breast cancer — that’s not dependent on estrogen — compared with those who drank just one cup.

Being a two-cup-a-day coffee drinker myself, I’m wondering if I should make a point to drink more.

“Don’t change your habits based on the results of single study,” Wilson tells me. While accounting for potentially confounding factors like PSA screenings and smoking habits, the study, which simply observed dietary and lifestyle habits, can’t show for certain whether one particular habit really made the difference in disease risk.

On the other hand, Wilson adds, “people who drink a lot of coffee shouldn’t feel guilty about it. For many, it’s their best source of antioxidants.”

That’s likely because they’re not eating the recommended five to eight servings a day of fruits and vegetables — which also protect against cancer.

Besides containing antioxidants, coffee appears to improve the action of the hormone insulin, Wilson says, which could add to its cancer protective effects. And those same attributes might also explain coffee drinkers’ lower risk of Parkinson’s, strokes, gallstones, colon cancer, and liver disease.

If you do decide to up your intake of java, you might want those extra cups to be decaffeinated to avoid disrupting your sleep. (Skimping on sleep, which raises your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, could negate the benefits of coffee.)

And avoid those frothy mocha, caramel concoctions that contain hundreds of calories, or you could find yourself packing on pounds. Not a good idea if your goal is to lower your risk of cancer.

Report outlines successes, challenges in cancer prevention efforts

A new report from the American Cancer Society details cancer control efforts and outlines improvements as well as gaps in preventive behavior that contribute to cancer mortality. Increasing rates of obesity observed since the early 1980s appear to have slowed in the past decade, particularly among women and girls, but nearly one in five adolescents and about one in three adults is obese. Vaccination against the virus that causes cervical cancer is up, but smoking declines have stalled. Meanwhile, proven cancer screening tests remain underutilized, particularly in un- and under-insured populations. The report, Cancer Prevention & Early Detection Facts & Figures (CPED), says social, economic, and legislative factors profoundly influence individual health behaviors, and that meeting nationwide prevention goals will require improved collaboration among government agencies, private companies, nonprofit organizations, health care providers, policy makers, and the American public.

Since 1992, the American Cancer Society has published CPED as a resource to strengthen cancer prevention and early detection efforts at the local, state, and national levels. Below are highlights of this year’s report.

Tobacco Use

Smoking rates in U.S. adults and youth have stalled. Among adults, the smoking rate remained unchanged in the past 6 years (2009: 20.6%). Among high school students, the smoking prevalence did not change significantly between 2003 and 2009 (19.5%), but use of smokeless products is increasing in some groups. Smoking among middle school students also did not change between 2006 and 2009 (5.2%).

States’ funding for tobacco control ($517.9 million) in 2011 was the lowest amount allocated since the 1999 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), with only 2% of states’ revenue from tobacco taxes and the MSA allocated for tobacco control.

Federal tobacco control funding to some extent offset declines in states’ funding. Several federal tobacco control initiatives, including U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulations and funding for tobacco control, went into effect in 2010. Provisions for tobacco dependence treatment coverage in the Affordable Care Act for previously uninsured individuals, Medicare, and Medicaid recipients either went into effect in 2010 or will be implemented in upcoming years.

As tobacco marketing and sales become more restrictive due to regulations, the industry is moving toward unregulated venues and products. For example, point-of-source advertising and promotions are increasingly being targeted by the industry, as are products such as small cigars that are not subject to the same regulations governing cigarette sales and marketing.

Overweight and Obesity, Physical Activity, and Nutrition

Currently, an estimated 18.1% of adolescents and 34.3% of adults are obese. Increasing rates of obesity observed since the early 1980s appear to have slowed in the past decade, particularly among women and girls.

In 2009, the prevalence of obesity among adults exceeded 20% in all states except Colorado (19.3%).

HPV Vaccination for Cervical Cancer Prevention

To prevent cervical cancer, vaccination against certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) is recommended for adolescent girls. The initiation of the HPV vaccination series among U.S. females aged 13 to 17 increased from 25% in 2007 to 44% in 2009, and nearly one in three completed the entire series.

Cancer Screening

Mammography usage has not increased since 2000. In 2008, 53% of women aged 40 and older reported getting a mammogram in the past year. Women who lack health insurance have the lowest use of mammograms (26%).

In 2008, 78.3% of adult women had a Pap test in the past three years. However, there is persistent under-use of the Pap test among women who are uninsured, recent immigrants, and those with low education.

Colorectal cancer screening rates increased from 38% in 2000 to 53.2% in 2008; however, rates remain substantially lower in uninsured individuals. To date, 26 states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation ensuring coverage for the full range of colorectal cancer screening tests.

Improving these numbers, says the report, will require coordinated efforts. “For example,” the authors write, “the price and availability of healthy foods, the incentives and opportunities for regular physical activity in schools and communities, the content of advertising aimed at children, and the availability of insurance coverage for screening tests and treatment for tobacco addiction all influence individual choices.”

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