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Cancer Risks Higher for Flight Attendants

Flight attendants get more cancers.

The glamour of being a flight attendant may wear thin as more research uncovers health risks. Scientists compared the self-reported cancer diagnosis from a group of over 4000 flight attendants with a similar contemporary control group. The flight attendants had a higher prevalence of every cancer examined--especially breast, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. Job tenure was a significant factor in risk. Loss of sleep, jet lag and exposure to carcinogenic chemicals may be to blame.

PositiveTip: Regularity in life, including adequate sleep and avoidance of environmental exposures may reduce cancer risk.

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A Blueprint to Beat Cancer

You can significantly lower your risk of cancer.

Yesterday, the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Fund released the newest edition of Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective. While this authoratative report is over 12,000 pages, the recommendations are summarized in 10 simple steps you can take.

PositiveTip: Take this "Cancer Health Check" to compare your lifestyle with the new guidelines.

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"Alternative" Treatments for Cancer

The risk of death may be 5x higher in those choosing alternative treatments.

We all know unproven alternative treatments are risky. Yale researchers have now quantified one type of risk for cancer patients--the risk of death. The results are frightening. By tracking equally matched subjects for 66 months, it was found that those in the alternative treatment group were 2.5 times more likely to die within five years than those in the evidence-based group. Looking specifically at breast cancer, alternative medicine users were 5.7 times more likely to die than those using conventional treatments.

PositiveTip: Think very carefully before substituting alternative treatments for evidence-based treatments.

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Getting Cancer is More than Just Bad Luck

Clear evidence suggests people can choose to take steps to lower cancer risk.

Cancer is not caused mainly by "bad luck." The authors of a recent paper based this conclusions on estimates of random cell mistakes (mutations) made during cell replication. While genetic mutations are involved in cancers, these may be caused by external and modifiable factors such as adopting a healthy lifestyle.

PositiveTip: Clear evidence supports the value of walking more, drinking water instead of sugary-beverages, substituting veggies for fatty foods, and many other simple measures that lower the risk of cancer.

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Vitamin D and Cancer in Postmenopausal Women

Four years of supplemental vitamin D and calcium made no difference in cancer risk.

Researchers divided 2300 postmenopausal, healthy women aged 65 or older, into two groups. One group received 2000 IU/day of vitamin D3 and 1500 mg/day of calcium; the other a placebo. After 4 years, the difference in any new cancer incidence between groups was insignificant--including breast cancer. While more research is needed, this study indicates supplementation later in life may not make significant differences.

PositiveTip: Adequate vitamin D and calcium are essential throughout the life span, but supplementation may not be necessary.

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Physical Inactivity Leads to Higher Cancer Risk

Aim for 30+ minutes of physical activity a day--in any way!

More than a quarter of adults in America age 50+ reported no physical activity outside of work during the past month--that is about 31 million people at higher risk for obesity, heart disease, and cancer. The largest demographic of inactive people was in the South. The American Institute for Cancer Research reports too much body fat increases the risk of 11 cancers.

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Video: Does Sugar Feed Cancer?

Why should we control added sugars?

Each cell in our body, including any cancer cells, uses sugar (glucose) from our blood to fuel its metabolism. The foods we eat, even the healthful vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, provide this source of energy. There is no clear evidence that dietary sugar preferentially feeds tumors over other cells in the body. The connection is an indirect one: eating lots of high-sugar foods increases the risk of obesity, and in turn increases the risk of many cancers. Learn more in this video.

PositiveTip: Heed the good advice in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines to carefully limit added sugars.

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Processed Meats Classified as Cause of Cancer

Each 1.75 ounces (50 gm) of processed meat increases risk of colorectal cancer by 18%.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer released an evaluation of red and processed meat consumption that has created a small media frenzy. An international group of scientists, after a careful review of the accumulated data, has classified processed meat as carcinogenic to humans based on sufficient evidence, and red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans based on limited evidence. 

PositiveTip: The most wholesome diet continues to be largely plant-based without the use of processed meats.

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Lifelong Cancer Prevention

Parents who embrace a healthy lifestyle are positive role models for their kids.

You know healthy habits can reduce the risk of cancer and other health issues. Did you know the sooner those habits start, the greater the impact they will have? The American Institute for Cancer Research has many practical activities and tips to help you adopt a low-risk lifestyle for your home. Checkout this printable chart and place it on your refrigerator for frequent reminders.

PositiveTip: Remember, you need to be a positive role model for your children and grandchildren!

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Healthy Diet Helps Low-income Population

A good diet in the underserved population helps prevent illness.

Low-income U.S. adults who eat a healthy diet experienced about 20% lower risk of heart disease and cancer. Almost 78,000 adults, half who had an annual income less than $15,000, were followed from 2002 to 2009. The quality of their diets was evaluated using the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Healthy Eating Index. After adjusting for confounders, the advantages remained.

PositiveTip: Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and some nuts. Reduce or eliminate red and processed meats and sugar-sweetened foods.