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Scottish Cancer Prevention Network | Putting Prevention First

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Professor Annie S. Anderson

Professor Annie S. Anderson BSc PhD RD FRCP (Edin) is Co-Director of the Scottish Cancer Prevention Network and Professor of Public Health Nutrition at the University of Dundee. Annie graduated in 1979 as a dietitian, and after two years clinical practice, has pursued a research career with posts in the Universities of Cambridge, Aberdeen, Glasgow and the MRC Medical Sociology Unit. Her main interests lie in understanding factors that influence lifestyle change (principally diet and obesity) and the impact of theory based, behaviourally focused, dietary and obesity interventions (policy, practice and individual) in relation to cancer and other chronic disease risk reduction.

Scottish Curriculum for Plant-Based Living: Brazilian aspirations

Our last blog by Anna Strachan (@obesityactionsc) left us thinking how we can start to change our Scottish diet high in processed foods. I have previously written about the new Scottish diet but the Brazilian challenge focuses the mind!

The European Code Against Cancer supports the concept of a plant based diet and we need to think creatively about how we can help Scots put that in place. “Inspiration and directions” from our amazing Scottish food heritage doesn’t need to use foods grown exclusively in Scotland – we have fabulous opportunities to create fusion cuisine from many unprocessed ingredients. The joy of cooking doesn’t need to be about cake baking, supermarket recipes or designing pizza, but simple pleasures from simple ingredients.

It is encouraging to see the Brazilian dietary guidelines promoting the development of cooking skills. For many years, we [University of Dundee] carried out a trial on the impact of cooking skills on dietary intake and reported a modest effect on food choice and cooking confidence. We focused on cooking skills people wanted to learn, but what if we had focused on what we thought might be most worthy ?

If the SCPN was asked for a curriculum for school children, or students or adults or anyone…here would be our starting points for the skills for a Scottish plant based diet (skills like preparing fish, meat and other Scottish exotics can come at a later date). The value of food classes come not just from preparation, but the time taken to share, enjoy and appreciate. Readers, would you support a curriculum for plant based living?

  • Making, serving and eating Porridge

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    • Served straight
    • Served with added fruits and nuts
  • Creating and eating home-made breakfast cereal mix

    • Start with oats and add (barley flakes, dried, fresh or frozen fruit, seeds)
  • Planning, making and tasting seasonal soups (2 sessions)

    • Broths
    • Veggies based soups
    • Barley based winter soups
    • Chilled soups
  • Designing, preparing and chomping seasonal salads (2 sessions)

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    • Starting with base ingredients
  • Cabbage, kale, lettuce, salad greens

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    • Adding colour mix
  • Tomatoes, carrots, cucumber

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    • Adding the seasons – herbs, fruits and the colours – red, purple, yellow
  • Baking bread, rolls and bases

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    • Wholemeal, wholegrain, mixed fours, seeds – endless combination and creative opportunities

So there are the first eight, with more to follow of course – fish, wee meat portions (and no one needs to know about sausages and other processed meats) but let’s get the basics done first!

Raising awareness of the causes of bowel cancer and making a difference!

Is your glass half full or half empty? Around 50% of bowel cancer is related to lifestyle – most notably eating too much red and processed meat, drinking too much alcohol, consuming too many calories, taking too little fibre and not doing enough physical activity. Excess body weight is an important cause too – especially in men. Around 50% of the disease is due to other causes – genetics, environment, unknowns.

Continue reading “Raising awareness of the causes of bowel cancer and making a difference!”

Dry Drinking The Sociable Way

Every time I show the slide that says “35% of Scottish women aged over 50 drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week,” I am reminded that this includes me.  I would not describe myself as a heavy drinker, but I do drink more than I know is appropriate for my health. From my research on alcohol intake in women and breast cancer risk, I know that I am not alone in being reluctant to discuss the pleasure of red wine consumption with health professionals.

Continue reading “Dry Drinking The Sociable Way”

Forgotten Superfoods: “humble vegetables deserve greater promotion” 

Eat plenty of wholegrains, pulses, vegetables and fruits is a very clear message from the European Code Against Cancer  but one that Scots don’t do well on. Despite the familiar 5 a day message our national monitoring programme shows negligible changes in consumption of vegetable from around 126g per day in 2001 to 129g per day in 2012.

Continue reading “Forgotten Superfoods: “humble vegetables deserve greater promotion” “

Our obesogenic, carcinogenic environment – a legacy for our children

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.

Continue reading “Our obesogenic, carcinogenic environment – a legacy for our children”

Losing Weight Feels Good

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.

Continue reading “Losing Weight Feels Good”

Avoiding excess body fatness makes sense!

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!”

Life skills for adult physical activity: The basics first…then Wimbledon!

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.

Continue reading “Life skills for adult physical activity: The basics first…then Wimbledon!”

Auntie Jean and Auntie Norma – Challenges in Cancer Prevention

Everyone knows of an ‘Auntie Jean’. She is the older woman, who liked a good drink, hearty meals, and big puddings and specialises in spectator sport (with feet up in front of the telly). She scores 0 for lifestyle actions for reducing cancer risk. Not a second thought to worrying about health (“the doctor never said I was doing anything wrong“), lived well over the three score years and ten, and dropped dead one day without bothering a soul.

Continue reading “Auntie Jean and Auntie Norma – Challenges in Cancer Prevention”

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