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Scottish Cancer Prevention Network | Putting Prevention First

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World Cancer Day – time to reflect on cancer prevention

Initially, the headline sounded good… “Decrease in the numbers of cancers diagnosed” – until you read the sub-title about diminished screening services, fear of going to GP’s and reduced access to diagnostic facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic (ScotGov2021)

If only we could decrease the numbers of people getting cancers especially late-stage disease and reduce incidence across all peoples- from poorest to richest from Northern and Southern hemispheres. We focus so much on early diagnosis (ScotGov, staging, 2021) as a way of reducing cancer morbidity (and mortality) but the lens on prevention has got very cloudy in the last couple of years. Focusing on health behaviours at a time when COVID-19 related stress and anxieties have risen has not become easier. We have watched obesity figures increase and greater alcohol consumption across  the Scottish population (SHS,2021).

As COVID-19 recedes it must be time to put health, not disease centre stage. Sadly, there are few vaccinations for preventing cancers – and where these do exist (like cervical cancer) we can see major differences in incidence (NHSScotland, 2022). For the most frequently occurring cancers, lifestyle matters a lot – almost 40% of cancers can be prevented and there might be good reasons for focussing on those cancers that are rising in Scotland which include kidney, prostate and uterus – all of which are obesity related. 

There is, however, increasingly good news as more research shows that weight loss can decrease risk in key obesity cancers including breast and bowel. These findings show that the damage created by excess body fat (and the mechanisms related to cancer development) can be reduced and it’s not too late to make a difference to change health and well-being. Like smoking cessation, weight management provides an opportunity to get some control back into our lives and to plan, one step at a time, how we want to lead in times of lower COVID risk.
The USA have reignited their Cancer moonshot – an ambitious plan to reduce the death rate from cancer by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years. Scotland has been a health exemplar in many ways and now it is time to seriously plan an equally ambitious and equitable cancer reduction plan that can also contribute to diminishing inequalities in health.

Professor Annie S. Anderson & Professor Bob Steele

New season – but they still want cake!

Schools are back and the season is changing. As we transition from a hot summer to darker autumn days  the need for comforting, warmer food starts to enter our thoughts. Seasonal eating could never be easier than in autumn as we see apples, pears and plums weighing down branches. Tatties, parsnips, and other roots waiting to be lifted and squashes and broccoli ready to colour our plates.  

But still the kids want cake!!

Continue reading “New season – but they still want cake!”

Staycation eating: ways to stay healthy and develop helpful habits

What are the essential ingredients for a holiday? Sun? Swimming? A change of scene? A lie in?  It’s different for everyone but many of us would consider ‘special’ food and drink an important part of a great holiday.  But as we know, typical ‘treat’ foods are usually the foods which don’t do our health any favours – the ultra-processed foods high in sugar and refined starches, confectionery, cakes, biscuits and ice cream. Fizzy and alcoholic drinks are on the same list. 

So, is there a way to do holiday food without the downside of weight gain or getting into habits which are hard to break when the holiday’s over? Here are a few ideas;

Continue reading “Staycation eating: ways to stay healthy and develop helpful habits”

#Staycation hydration

People can find it easier to be active and eat better on holiday, thanks to the break from routine and extra free time. However, holidays also come with lots of temptations, distracting our eyes from our normal healthy lifestyle behaviours. Of course you’re going to treat yourself (you’re on holiday!) but be mindful of how often you might do this. Holiday time is the time for feeling good, time to invest in yourself, so why not make a few little changes for an extra boost? One habit that most of us are prone to letting slide is keeping well hydrated (I’m not talking about alcohol here!).  

Continue reading “#Staycation hydration”

We are all in this together

For some people body image, self-esteem and eating habits can be a struggle all year round – and even more of a strain on the lead up to summer holidays and planning a #staycation. 

A new YouGov survey conducted around the world has reported that 46% of Brits have gained weight during lockdown. More than half of people globally indicated they wanted to lose weight, with 51% reporting that they are trying to lose weight. 

Continue reading “We are all in this together”

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”

Malcolm Chisholm looks forward to the good things to come in 2021 and beyond

Today’s blog is from @MalcolmChisholm1, one of the directors at the Scottish Cancer Foundation. Malcolm is also known to many as previous MP for Edinburgh Leith and also Minister for Health in the Scottish Parliament at the start of the 21st Century https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malcolm_Chisholm. His commitment to all health matters and cancer related issues remains a key part of his current work (and leisure activities!)

Continue reading “Malcolm Chisholm looks forward to the good things to come in 2021 and beyond”

STOP, Swap and GO!

Autumn – the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness – a season for reflection and preparation for the winter ahead.

October – the month to Stoptober, Go Sober and look out for #scpnswaptober

There is never a wrong time to quit smoking, reduce or quit alcohol and make changes for a healthy lifestyle. October is as good as any month to reflect and review, and this year there are even more reasons to do everything we can to build our resistance to illness. Lots going on with the Nation’s emotional and mental wellbeing, but being able to make one important change (whether it is stop or a modest swop) provides an opportunity to remember we do still have some control in our lives. 

Continue reading “STOP, Swap and GO!”

Emergency food assistance during the COVID-19 lockdown period

Many people living with and beyond a cancer diagnosis received emergency food parcels from the government for the many weeks of lockdown. A recent survey of shielding experience undertaken by Public Health Scotland reported that 7% of respondents said they were struggling to access food that met their needs. Food provides much to our lives not limited just to nutrients. Professor Geraldine McNeill from The University of Edinburgh who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and a second breast cancer in 2010 provides some wider perspectives on food provision.

Continue reading “Emergency food assistance during the COVID-19 lockdown period”

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