2010 Campaign: "Cancer can be prevented too"
World Cancer Day 2010, led by UICC, its members and with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO), will raise awareness of cancer prevention.
Each year, over 12 million people receive a cancer diagnosis and 7.6 million die of the disease.
The good news is that approximately 40% of cancers are potentially preventable. We invite you to join us in marking World Cancer Day on 4 February by promoting our exciting new campaign and spreading the message that cancer can be prevented too.
This coming February, UICC will launch the campaign “Cancer can be prevented too”, focussing on how the risk of developing cancer can significantly be reduced through simple measures:
- Stop tobacco use and avoid exposure to second-hand smoke
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Avoid excessive sun exposure
- Maintain a healthy weight, through eating healthily and exercising regularly
- Protect against cancer-causing infections
The fact that obesity is directly correlated to health issues is not a new discovery. Excess body fat is known to cause of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes. However in a recent report issued by the American Institute for Cancer Research, there is now concrete statistical evidence between cancer and being overweight. The study proves that over 100,000 cases of cancer are caused by obesity annually.
"This is the first time that we've put real, quantifiable case numbers on obesity-related cancers," Glen Weldon, the American Institute for Cancer Research educational director, told CNN news. According to the World Health Organization, 1 billion adults are overweight, and at least 300 million of these are clinically obese. It’s not just causing cancer that’s an issue. Weldon went on to say, "Obesity not only raises the risk for getting cancer; it also has a negative effect on survival and can make treatment more difficult."
Actual case counts were calculated by researchers, who focused the study on the seven cancers with known links to excess body fat. The report concluded that 9% of colorectal cancer cases, 17% of breast cancer cases, 21% of cases of gallbladder cancer, 24% of kidney cancer cases, 28% of pancreatic cancer cases, 35% of esophageal cancer cases and an overwhelming 49% of endometrial cancer cases were all likely caused by obesity.
There is no concrete science determining the reason why cancer risks are increased by obesity, researchers believe the answer could be excess estrogen that is released in cases of overweight patients with cancers such as estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer. Studies have also shown increased levels of oxidative stress and inflammatory compounds in the blood, which are linked to DNA mutation and diseased cell growth as seen in many cancers, are also linked to an increase in body fat.
The recent report “helps to communicate the magnitude of the problem,” according to Dr. Michael Thun, vice president emeritus at the American Cancer society, but it is only the first step in solving the issue. The prevalence of obesity is rising dramatically among adults and children around the world, and people must learn “to try to balance the calories you take in with those your body expends every day." UICC aims to raise awareness of the link between overweight and cancer, setting people around the world on the right path to reducing their own risk.
Fitness Centres Severely Lack Healthy Food Options
In a recent study of 35 leisure centres in the United Kingdom, the British Heart Foundation discovered a shocking amount of unhealthy snacks and foods being offered. Despite a ban on junk food from schools and children’s TV programmes, there is an overwhelming availability of unhealthy options where children exercise and play. The Food Commission’s survey included leisure facilities, bowling alleys, ice skating rinks and park cafes.
Judy Hargadon, chief executive of the School Food Trust, said, "Convenience doesn't have to mean unhealthy. Many schools are using vending to offer pupils extra choice and independence whilst still keeping their options well-balanced and consistent." However, the study found vending machines were stocked full of crisps and chocolate. Experts warn that this severely increases the risk of fuelling childhood obesity. The Foundation reported that fresh fruit was displayed at less than half of the centres visited and children’s menu options were dominated by chips, nuggets, sausages and burgers. Furthermore, nutritional information was only displayed at two venues, severely limiting the ability to assess the products parents and children are buying.
The British Heart Foundation is calling for new regulations on the choices of food available in public facilities in the UK. Stricter guidelines would provide healthier options and allow parents and children to properly identify and asses the nutritional values of snacks. CEO of the Foundation, Peter Hollins told BBC News, "It's fantastic that these kids are getting fit and having fun at the same time but this is being undermined by venues peddling junk food at them. Councils and leisure providers need to rigorously reconsider the food options they are providing and make it easier for parents and children to make healthier choices." Unhealthy snacks and fizzy drinks have been banned from school vending machines in the UK since 2007, and the charity hopes that leaders in the public and private sectors will lead the way to ensuring this expands to other public venues.