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Scottish Cancer Prevention Network | Putting Prevention First

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Physical Activity

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

Active #Staycations

A summer break is an ideal time for recharging your batteries and getting some well-deserved R&R. In our previous blog, we highlighted that holiday time was a great time for investing in yourself. It’s recommended that you do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week, and although we might tend to slow things down a bit whilst on holiday, it is still possible to achieve enough active time.

But how easy is it to stay active whilst on a #staycation? We have a few practical tips from Dr Christos Theodorakopoulos, sports nutritionist and exercise professional to help us plan for active and healthier holidays;

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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”

Walking from home

I’ve now officially been working from home for 15 months. Like many people, initially I embraced the extra free time that working from home gave me; during the first lockdown my activity levels were the best they had ever been. I was spinning each morning as a mock commute, following online yoga classes and using resistance bands to grow stronger. But winter came and with that my mood and motivation plummeted. I’d been stuck in a very big sedentary rut since January – starting the year off in another lockdown is not what my mental health needed. Averaging around 4,000 steps per day I knew I needed to re-calibrate.

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Celebrating Gardening week

During last years lockdown, more people than ever before started gardening and here we are in spring again, ready for planting. Gardening provides a great break from indoor work or sitting too long, amazing relief for the mind and life’s stresses, and that was before the Coronavirus outbreak. Gardening really has been a huge benefit during hard times. Breathe deep and enjoy!

As a celebration of #Gardeningweek, here are some of the tasks that can be enjoyed. Even a few minutes invested can result in lots of joy as plants grow or produce amazing vegetables. Move towards your five a day to help reduce cancer risk and personally I don’t think anything ever tastes better than home grown!! 

Annie S. Anderson.

Some great suggestions from SCPN friend Wendy McCombes from Coupar Angus (and other local growers)

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Nanette Mutrie MBE of PAHRC gives her thoughts on a better world ahead

Professor Nanette Mutrie MBE is Director of Physical Activity for Health Research Centre (PAHRC) at the University of Edinburgh. She has been a key supporter of the SCPN and reminds us of the many reasons why Physical activity can turn our lives around and impact on planet health.

Could COVID-19 have precipitated actions that might save the world? What a thought! As we experience the reality of social restrictions and economic downturn it is not easy to think that the world could benefit in some way.  Along with that thought must go first and foremost our heartfelt sorrow for the distress and loss of life that the virus has created.  But given the directions to think forward for this blog, this is what happened to my thinking...

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What we CAN do for our wellbeing during the pandemic

Alison Douglas Chief Executive of Alcohol Focus Scotland   

Beyond our professional roles we also need to see a way into 2021 that remind us of what we can do (however small) for our sense of wellbeing in this very big and challenging world.

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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. 

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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). 

Continue reading “Little changes form better habits”

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