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Scottish Cancer Prevention Network | Putting Prevention First

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Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer – challenges and opportunities

Ovarian cancer remains a challenging disease to diagnose, because symptoms manifest late, often when there is spread to other organs. Women may therefore present with diverse symptoms such as breathlessness, bloating , urinary symptoms, heartburn and indigestion. Even though these are common symptoms, if persistent and unexplained, particularly in women over the age of 50, it is important they are not dismissed and that ovarian cancer is considered  1

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Vaccines, Vaccines, Vaccines #WorldImmunizationWeek

For most, vaccines are a welcome addition to routine care, but for some they are perceived as dangerous and threatening.  In this blog, we hope to illustrate how vaccines contribute to the health of the population and we will start with their role in cancer control.  The human papilloma virus (HPV) is now recognised as the principle causative factor in cancer of the cervix, anus and oropharynx (mouth and throat).  Because this virus is an infective agent that raises antibodies, its effects can be prevented by vaccination, and thanks to the development of an effective vaccine by Ian Frazer and his group in Australia the virtual eradication of these cancers is now a possibility.  In the UK, all girls and now boys aged 12 to 13 in school year 8 are offered HPV vaccination.  With high adherence to this programme, it is anticipated that cervical screening will eventually become unnecessary and that suffering from a HPV related cancer will become a thing of the past.  However, for this aspiration to be realised, is essential that this protection is extended to the vast majority of the population.

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Dear Mum… #lookaftermum

Health has been centre stage for the past year.  I feel perhaps like many others, I have done a full 360o in terms of my mindset and mental health. When the pandemic hit and Scotland announced its first lockdown we were all a bit shook as to the speed of the sweeping deadly virus Covid-19. The uncertainty and powerlessness of the situation led my mood to spiral and I began comfort eating for the FIRST time in my life. How did I not notice? Emotional eating wasn’t a typical habit of mine. The whole world seemed to have gone to pot. Nothing was normal. I couldn’t see my family. I couldn’t see my friends. Everyone seemed to become really busy. My little boy was growing up fast and I couldn’t share this with anyone. In hindsight I guess I used food as a source of comfort in a time I felt unable to cope. Single parenting a toddler, with no respite, during a pandemic has certainly been tough.

Continue reading “Dear Mum… #lookaftermum”

World Cancer Day 2021 – Time to think again

COVID-19

The global pandemic has been dominating the world of Scottish public health, primary care and acute medicine for the past year. We have watched the daily, weekly and monthly figures of cases, hospital admissions and deaths of the millions whose lives have sadly been affected or lost to Covid-19.

There are, on the other hand, many other worries and statistics that have always got less air time. Concerns about cancer diagnosis (especially delayed screening), treatments and recovery may have been severely impacted on many of thousands of people in Scotland during the pandemic, but the details do not regularly appear on our television screens. It is interesting to give thought to what might happen if we did receive daily reminders.

Continue reading “World Cancer Day 2021 – Time to think again”

The causes of cancer: implications for policy and practice

Professor Richard Martin, University of Bristol

Around 1 in 2 people in the UK will get cancer in their lifetime (Cancer Research UK). Over 40% of cancers are linked to a combination of 14 major lifestyle and environmental factors that are potentially preventable. The Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Programme (ICEP) uses cutting edge statistical methods and genetic data on 10s to 100s of thousands of people to provide high quality evidence on: the causes of cancers; factors influencing the progression of cancer; new ways to predict who will develop or die from these cancers; and new ways to prevent cancer and its progression. 

Continue reading “The causes of cancer: implications for policy and practice”

Breastfeeding support during a pandemic #WBW2020

It’s World Breastfeeding Week and whilst this year the focus is supporting breastfeeding for a healthier planet…. here we are amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. So for many, this time without face-to-face support has been an extremely difficult one. New mothers navigating a world of breastfeeding alone can be terribly isolating, it is a world which requires friends, peer support, family and in some cases specialists to establish a feeding routine. 

Continue reading “Breastfeeding support during a pandemic #WBW2020”

The power of prevention – stacking the odds in favour of a longer disease-free life

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”

Breastfeeding reduces risk of breast and other female cancers and has other benefits for women

IMG_0808In 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.

ECAC BF

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

Breastfeeding_and_Breast_Cancer_Risk

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

Artboard 1

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

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!”

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