What would you give for an extra ten years of healthy life? A recent BMJ study showed that sticking to just five healthy habits in middle age – not smoking, regularly exercising, eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy body weight, and limiting alcohol – can earn you an extra ten years of disease free life. This is especially significant given that we are all living longer – but often that longer life is accompanied by one or more chronic health conditions.Continue reading “The power of prevention – stacking the odds in favour of a longer disease-free life”
Somewhere in a busy life, someone says ‘try something new’. The someone is me, telling myself ‘Slow down, look around at what you see and think hard about what the next decade could bring – do life differently’.Continue reading “Reflections on 31 days of a new decade – one drink at a time”
If asked if there is a single nutritional intervention that would make a difference in the health of a life time, in a population, in people from any background then my nomination would be breast feeding. Continue reading “Breast feeding ABC – Action, Best practice, Cancer risk reduction”
We asked SCPN friends and advisors to tell us about a report/paper/findings/work on cancer screening and prevention that has been published this year and has made them stop and think. The works span a wide range of areas from very detailed scientific investigation, reviews of physical activities, and blogs of model work. We find them a complete inspiration. When only 3% of the NCRI research budget is spent on prevention and virtually nil on implementation research; these papers provide a window on some of the very good reasons why cancer screening and prevention should be a leading part of cancer control research.
In 2007, the International Agency for Research on Cancer|World Health Organization (IARC|WHO) concluded that the effects of shift work on the disruption of normal circadian rhythm had a probable link to breast cancer. IARC suggest that our endogenous 24-hour body clocks may be subject to interference by factors such as exposure to light at night, and it’s impact on melatonin levels may be linked to breast cancer. However, a recent meta-analysis led by Dr Ruth C. Travis published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute concludes that night shift work may actually have very little effect on breast cancer risk.
At 50, my youngest daughter made me call the local breast screening centre to ask if I had missed a letter inviting me to attend. She said “the late birthday card from the bowel cancer unit came within weeks of turning 50…” Happily the screening centre staff offered to give me an appointment but said I hadn’t missed an invitation, it was just that my GP area wasn’t being called in at that point in time. I went, got an all clear and had one happy daughter.
The American publication ‘Nutrition Action’’s most recent article highlights issues about women and alcohol by George Koob (Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism at the National Institutes of Health), Walter Willet (chair of the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health) and Regina Ziegler (of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology & Genetics at the National Cancer Institute).
The World Cancer Research Fund with the American institute for Cancer Research have recently published the most comprehensive review on breast cancer and it’s relation to diet, nutrition and physical activity. Click on the following link to read this compelling review in order to find out how certain lifestyle choices may increase or decrease risk of breast cancer.
In Scotland, this is national breastfeeding week- a celebration of what has been achieved but also a call to reflect on how we might do better. With colleagues in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Dundee and other experts across the UK, I am a signatory to a statement calling for a change in the culture to provide all women with the right support, at the right time, in the right place to initiate and maintain breastfeeding. And yes… breastfeeding is relevant to a cancer prevention network.
The European Code Against Cancer recommends:
“Breastfeeding reduces the mother’s cancer risk. If you can, breastfeed your baby”.
The background review paper reports:
- Protective effect against breast cancer at all ages
- 2% reduction per 5 months breastfeeding
- The longer breastfeeding is continued the better
- Exclusive BF impacts on ER- and ER+ cancers
- Modest protective effect against ovarian and endometrial cancer
And there is more ….
Breast feeding is associated with
- More rapid return to pre-pregnancy weight
- Lower incidence of the metabolic syndrome for mother (and decrease risk of type 2 diabetes)
- Lower body weight in later life
Everyone knows about the nutritional benefits of breast milk and the amazing immunological benefits but the long term effects (largely associated with reduced exposure to oestrogens) should not be forgotten.
Supporting our daughters and granddaughters to appreciate the lifelong effects of breast feeding must be central to women’s health which is why we call for education for children, through to support from health professionals as a key part of health for all.
Professor Annie S. Anderson