Our thanks to Dr Gill Hubbard who had the pleasure of reading a paper which has helped her to focus on how far we have and haven’t moved on changing some basic health behaviours from 1963 to 2015… a year of reflection.

Title: Exercise and Cancer: A review

Author: Dennis Rigan 

The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (1963); 62:596-599.

The article that had a big impact on me in 2015 was in fact published in 1963, which was just before I was born. Rigan begins his article by telling us that the major changes in society and in particular, overabundance of food and the growth of sedentary occupations (probably most of you who are reading this have desk-bound jobs), are risk factors for cancer, diabetes and disease of the cardiovascular system.  He discusses experiments with mice, going as far back as 1911. These studies suggest that physical activity reduces the risk of cancer. Why mice in one study had to be virgins remains a puzzle but I suspect it has something to do with pregnancy as confounding rather than a concern for promiscuous mice running amok in the lab. A conclusion from these studies, which is as relevant today as it was then, is that we should eat no more than we need and keep physically active, with the addition of proper medical care. It struck me that 50 years on, key gaps in evidence still need to be urgently addressed but simple messages about preventing cancer are just as relevant for the present generation as it was for previous generations.