By Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D.
To live long, healthy lives and lower their chances of recurrence, breast cancer survivors should focus on staying active and watching their weight, according to a report out today from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). The report looks at research on whether physical activity, nutrition and overweight and obesity affect breast cancer and overall mortality in breast cancer survivors. The report found evidence to suggest that in women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer:
- Physical activity, a high fiber diet and eating more soy were associated with longer survival.
- Obesity is related to a greater chance of developing a second cancer of the breast, dying from breast cancer and shorter survival.
However, the report notes that high quality research on this topic is still limited.
Staying healthy to prevent cancer recurrence
So, what does the report mean for cancer survivors? Should you exercise, and maintain a healthy diet and a healthy weight?
Continue reading Staying healthy after cancer.
By Natalie Arneson
I recently found out that I carry the BRCA 1 genetic mutation, and I'm not freaking out.
The mutation means that I have a crazy high chance of getting breast cancer. Like, it's practically a guarantee. And ovarian cancer is a strong possibility, too.
You can stop before you barrage me with condolences or compliments. I'll just roll my eyes. And then I'll hug you because I love you. But seriously, don't freak out. I'm not freaking out. Can we just skip freaking out and go to lunch?
Why I decided to undergo genetic testing for breast cancer and ovarian cancer
My mother, Terry Arnold, was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and triple negative breast cancer at the same time almost seven years ago. Fortunately, when it comes to cancer treatment, my mom kicks butt.
Continue reading I just found out I carry the BRCA 1 genetic mutation, and I'm not freaking out.
Melanoma was the last thing on Saoirse Murray's mind when she made her first appointment with a dermatologist at age 17. Prom was around the corner, and she was hoping to have a perfect complexion for the big night.
She never guessed that she'd end up with a skin cancer diagnosis.
Saoirse's melanoma diagnosis and treatment
At her first appointment, the dermatologist found two concerning moles on Saoirse's back. He asked Saoirse if she used tanning beds.
Saoirse nodded. She didn't use a tanning bed often. She already had an olive skin tone. But like she'd mentioned, prom was coming up, and she wanted to look perfect. She'd only gone to the tanning salon a few times -- just like all her friends.
The doctor removed the two moles.
A few days later, Saoirse received a phone call from her doctor asking her to come back for another appointment as soon as possible.
"I thought it was weird that they had called me at work," she says. "It was a little alarming, but I had no idea what was coming."
Continue reading Facing melanoma as a teenager.
You've probably seen someone walking down the street or sitting on an airplane smoking an electronic cigarette -- a smokeless electronic device that allows the user to imitate traditional smoking methods by inhaling a vapor of liquid nicotine. Tobacco companies have recently begun promoting e-cigarettes to hook young people on tobacco, claiming they're harmless and can even help people quit smoking.
But now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stepped in, proposing new rules to regulate e-cigarettes as tobacco products.
"The reality is we have limited knowledge of what is in e-cigarettes, and if the actual nicotine content on the label is reflective of what's inside. There are no standards for reporting or measuring," says Paul Cinciripini, Ph.D., director of MD Anderson's Tobacco Treatment Program. "Regulation is welcome and further clinical research is needed before e-cigarettes can be promoted as a safe alternative to smoking or as an effective means to quit smoking."
Cracking down on e-cigarettes
E-cigarette sales have jumped from $500 million in 2012 to nearly $2 billion today. This is partly due to hip packing and flavoring options that make e-cigarettes attractive to a new generation of younger smokers. Our tobacco experts are concerned that e-cigarettes may become a gateway form of nicotine for never-smokers, while also preventing those who are trying to quit from kicking their nicotine addiction.
Continue reading FDA tackles e-cigarettes: An important first step.
By John Chattaway
As a part of MD Anderson's mission to end cancer, we're aspiring to raise the first tobacco-free generation. It's this goal that led to the creation of the ASPIRE program.
ASPIRE, which stands for A Smoking Prevention Interactive Experience, aims to educate teens about the dangers of tobacco use, so they never start smoking. For teens who already use tobacco, it provides information and strategies to quit smoking.
This free, web-based school curriculum has enrolled participants from 28 states and one international city. The program is available in both English and Spanish.
"Young people are very picky about what and how they are taught," says Alexander Prokhorov, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Behavioral Science and director of the Tobacco Outreach Education Program. "That's why we created this online course that is fun, interactive and entertaining while still being educational."
Online tobacco and smoking prevention
ASPIRE can be accessed by anyone through the MD Anderson website. It offers information tailored specifically for one person or for groups. Those who have never smoked can use ASPIRE to learn why it's important to avoid tobacco and how to talk to others about the harms of tobacco.
Continue reading ASPIRE-ing for a tobacco-free world.
By Robert Bresalier, M.D.
cancer is the third
most common cancer in both men and women in the United States, and the
third leading cause of cancer death.
Colorectal cancer develops in the colon or rectum, and grows
slowly. In 2014, there will be an estimated 141,000 new colorectal cancer cases
in the United States and 49,000 related deaths. But colorectal cancer is preventable and
curable when detected early.
Here are my top four tips to help lower your risks for
Tip 1: Get screened
for colorectal cancer
remains the most important method to prevent colorectal cancer. People at
average risk, age 50 and older, should get a colonoscopy every 10 years. A colonoscopy
enables your doctor to detect potentially cancer-causing lesions or polyps
early, and remove them.
Continue reading 4 tips to protect your colon .
By Amanda Woodward
Because of my melanoma
diagnosis, I consider myself a student of sun safety. I've learned to be
diligent and cautious about my sun exposure while still getting out and
enjoying the season.
However, there's a bit more to it than that. I needed to
redefine beautiful as it pertains to skin. As a teen, I saw my peers tanning
and was very much aware that tanned skin was their idea of attractive. Thankfully,
society seems to be moving to a place where we see pale skin and consider it healthy,
beautiful and classic. I'll take that!
Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks to being safe
in the sun and fashionably pale:
Continue reading Melanoma survivor: Pale is always in .
By Katrina Burton
MD Anderson is standing by a recommendation that women 40 years old and older receive annual mammograms, despite a recent study that raised
controversy regarding breast
"We are not recommending that women
change their screening practices," says Therese Bevers, M.D., medical director
of MD Anderson's Cancer Prevention Center. "We stand by our guidelines that
recommend women have annual mammograms beginning at age 40 and continue to be
screened as long as they are in good health."
But a study by the Canadian National
Breast Screening says annual mammography in women ages 40-59 does not
reduce mortality from breast cancer and mammography screening should be
The results of the study, published in the
BMJ Journal on Feb. 11, are in
direct contrast to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation
that women should begin annual mammograms
starting at age 50, and of guidelines by MD Anderson, the American Cancer
Society and others that call for annual breast cancer screening to begin at age
Continue reading When should women get mammograms?.
Souto Strom was growing up in Argentina, she wanted to be a mathematician. But
she became a marine biologist instead. Then a cancer researcher.
can happen when nothing much daunts you, not even pursuing a Ph.D. or two.
associate professor in Epidemiology,
she's followed a career path that looks a lot like an expedition.
Call of the wild
recalls having a scientific, inquiring mind even as a child in Buenos Aires.
Whether exploring the patterns of numbers or nature, Strom was drawn to
discovery. When her twin sister was getting interested in boys, Strom was
getting serious about zoology.
merely the dispassionate interest of a scientist.
like any animal that moves," she says. "Jellyfish, lizards, horses. Human
beings, too. They all need help."
Strom set her sights on marine biology, and she spent seven years earning
bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Buenos Aires.
as a marine biologist led her to the discovery of a new species of one-celled
protozoa -- and to her future husband. She was studying plankton on a research
vessel off the coast of Antarctica when she met Gary Strom. He was the
American-born first mate.
Continue reading From cancer researcher to stomach cancer survivor.
This Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General's 1964 Report on Smoking and Health, the first major statement in the United States linking smoking to lung cancer.
With more than 200,000 people diagnosed with lung cancer each year in the United States and smoking contributing to 87% of lung cancer deaths and 30% of all cancer deaths, this landmark report and the 30 subsequent Surgeon General's Reports on smoking have greatly influenced what we do here at MD Anderson.
Here are four ways the Surgeon General's Report has impacted our work and -- and our cancer patients and their families.
1. We've hired more researchers focused on smoking and cancer.
"The 1964 Surgeon General's Report set the stage for extraordinary increase in knowledge and research on tobacco and cancer that's occurred since then," says Ellen R. Gritz, Ph.D., chair of Behavioral Science at MD Anderson and an author and/or editor for nine Surgeon General's reports on smoking and tobacco.
Continue reading 4 ways the Surgeon General's Report on Smoking and Health impacts our work .
By Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D.
It's that time of year ... when we resolve to lose weight, exercise more and eat more healthfully.
Changes like these can reduce our chances of developing cancer and improve our overall health and quality of life. But our experience and studies show that New Year's resolutions often fall by the wayside a few weeks into the year. We know what we need to do, and have good intentions, but most of us are not able to turn resolutions into reality.
If you're serious about making changes, consider the following tips.
Continue reading Turning resolutions into action: Three tips for a healthier new year .
By Brittany Cordeiro
Each day in the United States, about 4,000 kids smoke their
first cigarette. Many of them will become daily smokers.
"For teens, it may seem cool to smoke. But tobacco use at a
young age can cause immediate and long-term health problems like cancer," says Alexander Prokhorov,
M.D., Ph.D., director of the Tobacco Outreach Education Program at MD
Recent data shows that the declining number of teen
tobacco users has stalled. And, the tobacco industry may be to blame.
The industry advertises products, like e-cigarettes,
flavored cigarillos and hookahs, as "safe" and is capturing the attention of
"All tobacco products are dangerous," Prokhorov says. "We
need to be proactive about educating our communities, schools and governments
about the dangers of these products."
Use the facts below to educate kids about the health risks
of trendy tobacco products.
use among high school students rose from 7% in 2009 to 12% in 2011. One
main factor: flavored cigarillos.
Continue reading E-cigarettes, cigarillos and hookahs: Latest tobacco trends target youth .