Every two years I receive a letter from myself. I know what it is before I open it, from the NHS logo on the envelope and the shape and feel of the contents. This is, of course, my bowel screening test, and the invitation letter is signed by me as Clinical Director of the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme. Thus, by virtue of my age, I send myself a letter on a regular basis.
Once upon a time there was a very, very big family who had to eat a diet of oats, wholegrain bread, home grown vegetables and some home grown fruit, but very little sugar. Meat, cheese, butter and hard cooking fat were scarce, and even milk and tea were limited. They had to walk and cycle a lot because cars weren’t so common as they are now, and fuel was rationed. The family weren’t very happy because lots of bad things were happening in the world but they were terribly healthy. When the world settled down and peace came, they all wished for sweeties, cakes, bacon, sweet drinks and white bread.
by Louise Codling, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at World Cancer Research Fund.
Our analysis of global research shows strong evidence that being overweight or obese is linked to an increased risk of several cancers. These findings come at a time when there is a growing trend of overweight and obesity around the world. Globally there are around 1.9 billion people who are overweight or obese, and this number is increasing in both higher and lower income countries. It is clear that more needs to be done to tackle overweight and obesity by reducing the amount of unhealthy food that people eat. However this is incredibly complex and requires action at every possible level, from government right down to the individual.
The relationship between obesity and cancer has been well described…and well ignored! Exposure to excess body fat will contribute to increased risk of some of the most common cancers including bowel and breast. Yet, few agencies working in the cancer settings (including the NHS) bring this to the attention of the millions of people who are in contact with healthcare every day. Many think it is a duty of care for people to be given advice on how to “stack the odds” against cancer occurrence (and recurrence) and that we deny people the opportunity to be supported to reduce cancer risk.
Every day the evidence grows. Every day we learn more about how obesity affects our health. Every day the media give this issue attention. But is this translating into action?
The recent report from IARC reaffirms the significant health consequences associated with excess weight. We need to take action now to reduce future cancer incidence.
The association between body fatness and cancer risk varies by cancer site and by body size. What is clear however, is that aiming to achieve a Body Mass Index at the lower end of the healthy weight range is desirable (see WCRF recommendations on body fatness). The European Code Against Cancer guides us to “take action to be a healthy body weight.”
The recent IARC report on cancer prevention concludes that the absence of body fatness lowers cancer risk, and that intentional weight loss (based largely on research from animal studies) has a causal cancer preventive effect. Never too late to start weight management strategies…or indeed too early. Continue reading “Avoiding excess body fatness makes sense!”
We are very grateful to an SCPN member, now an independent researcher, for sharing this very personal but hopeful account of her struggle to overcome her problem drinking.
I am now in control of my drinking. It feels good to say that, yet somewhat uneasy, as it’s never a ‘done deal’. I started drinking at 18, and it has taken me 16 years to get to a place where I can say that without an inkling of guilt, without wincing at the odd indiscretion or blow out.
I started drinking heavily at University. I went to the University of Sussex, near Brighton, which is an amazing place to be a student! There were several on-campus bars, and there was one literally 30 paces from my shared accommodation. It was great to get to know new people, and the cheap snakebites were a great conversation facilitator. It was acceptable to go every evening after dinner; there was no judgement. It helped us bond at a time when that felt so monumentally important for all that lay ahead of us.
The current recommendations for health, wellbeing and cancer risk reduction highlight the importance of physical activity. Sometimes people mistakenly refer to exercise when they mean physical activity, and therein lies the potential for a whole load of biased views, often stemming from negative experiences of sports and exercise in schooldays.