Monthly Archives: July 2012

Health Equity, Health Disparities: What’s the Story?

By Alvaro Carrascal, MD, MPH


These days we hear a lot about health disparities, cancer disparities, health equity, etc. What is this all about? And why do these terms seem to be more discussed now?

MedlinePlus, the National Institutes of Health’s website for patients, describes health disparities as “differences between groups of people. These differences can affect how frequently a disease affects a group, how many people get sick, or how often the disease causes death.”

For the World Health Organization (WHO), health equity is “the absence of unfair and avoidable or remediable differences in health among population groups defined socially, economically, demographically or geographically.”


Essentially, health equity is about everyone getting a fair shake when it comes to health and healthcare. [more]


So let’s see what that means in the real world. If we look at the numbers, we’ll see that cancer is not equally distributed across the population. For example:


  • Hispanic women have the highest proportion of new cases for cervical cancer among all ethnic/racial groups.
  • African Americans are more likely to develop cancer than any other racial or ethnic group.

These differences are not limited to racial and ethnic categories. If we consider education and income, there are differences in risk factors (factors that increase the chance of developing cancer) among groups.… Continue reading →

Weight Gain during Cancer Treatment

By Michele Szfranski, MS, RD, CSO, LDN


When I talk with people who have gained weight during their cancer treatment, they are often shocked. For people who lost considerable weight before their diagnosis and then felt better once their treatment started, weight gain can be a welcome change. But more often I speak with people who were at a healthy weight or overweight before treatment and did not realize that their treatment might cause some weight gain. [more]

Causes of weight gain

Many of the cancer patients with hormone based cancers like breast or prostate I speak to are surprised when they find they have gained weight after their treatments. Men on anti-androgen (hormone deprivation) therapy often gain weight in the first year of treatment. Women treated with adjuvant chemotherapy or who experience onset of menopause are most likely to experience weight gain.

Gaining weight after being diagnosed can give these patients a higher risk of the cancer returning. In fact, a recent study showed that men who gained about 5 pounds (2.2 kg) in the years after prostatectomy had higher rates of recurrence than those with stable weight. And for breast cancer, studies also suggest that weight gain after treatment can increase recurrence risk and decrease survival.… Continue reading →