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Scottish Cancer Prevention Network | Putting Prevention First

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Diet

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.

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Little changes form better habits

Chats in the Zoom office this week, inspired by Kellie Anderson’s blog on personal prevention strategies sparked sharing of our own little changes we might have made for the better against all the strange WFH/Lockdown/Covid odds.

Annie S. Anderson, SCPN Co-director

It started with the lockdown garage clear out where we discovered our mothers’ old tea sets. Memories of teacups and saucers from our childhood homes which were saved in glass cabinets and taken out only for special visitors (e.g. the minister or visiting aunts from Canada). 

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Personal prevention strategies : the overlap of Covid-19 and cancer

By Kellie Anderson, MSc

As we slide into the crunchy-leaved depths of September, Covid-19 remains our daily reality. So much so that perhaps some of us are thinking of our lives in terms of BC and DC – Before-Covid and During-Covid. 

This may or may not be a melodramatic assessment of our situation. Only time will tell.

During this unique and rather anxious time many of us have embraced helpful health behaviours, hoping to circumvent our risk of the more acute – and evolving – aspects of the virus. 

Occasional walkers turned into determined hill walkers; smokers quit in droves (at least the under-30s); and an increased number of us were more likely to be cooking, and paying attention to our diet

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You can have your vitamin D and eat it

With autumn fast approaching and holidaying to our favourite sunny destinations on hold, many of us won’t be having a couple of weeks of ‘guaranteed sunshine’ by the sea, opting instead for staycations within Scotland. Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ and has been in the news a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly due to concerns about time spent indoors during lockdown months. The Scottish Government recently issued revised guidance on vitamin D for all age groups, advising everyone (including children) to consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D. There is some confusion amongst the public with regard to vitamin D intakes, with evidence of Scots being unaware of the benefits of taking vitamin D supplements and uncertainty of which supplements to take.  

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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. 

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Food and Nutrition – during a pandemic

Eating well

Good nutritional intake is important for supporting good immune function1 and overall health but shopping restrictions may cause dietary considerations to fall down people’s list of priorities at this time, especially if familiar foods have disappeared from supermarket shelves. The important thing is to eat and drink regularly, even if our meals and snacks look somewhat different, and focus on caring for ourselves, families and neighbours.

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Wellbeing – Looking after yourself during a pandemic

Living life

When we juggle studies, work, childcare, finances, and now social distancing measures, it is easy to forget about looking after ourselves. Given the current situation, it is important that we use this time to focus on self-care activities like eating well and being active.

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Scotland – land of the generous (pro)portions

Hospitality doesn’t have to mean being over generous. Encouraging over eating is unkind to the 65% of adults in Scotland who live with excess body fat … many of whom face a daily struggle to walk away from large portions, alluring promotions and every day, every place offerings of calorie dense foods. Being overweight and obesity increases risk for 13 cancer types and yet all around there are superb attempts to get us to eat more and more.

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#EatingOutWithKids – babies and toddlers

Feeding babies and toddlers matters! Breast feeding for the first six months of life (and beyond!) is important for cancer risk reduction. All foods and drinks consumed will impact on healthy growth in infancy and future disease risk throughout childhood and beyond. But, even the most diligent parent, carers and grandparents will be challenged to feed little ones well when eating out and about …and that included babies and toddlers. This guest blog from Dr Helen Crawley (First Steps Nutrition) is the final in our series on eating out with children (see others: from a granny, a mother and a father)  and reminds us that challenges with the catering environment start young.

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