Category Archives: Uncategorized

Revamped Nutrition Facts Label – A Win for Consumers and Public Health

By Kristen Sullivan, MPH, MS, Director, Nutrition and Physical Activity, American Cancer Society

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When Michelle Obama announced new changes to the Nutrition Facts label to a room full of health and nutrition advocates last Friday, she received a standing ovation. I had the privilege of being in the room, representing the American Cancer Society.

The first lady told the audience that, for the first time since its inception in the early 1990s, the Nutrition Facts label – that black and white chart on packaged foods that lists the amount of calories and other nutrients – is getting a much-needed overhaul.

Some of the changes to the label, she went on the say, would include:

  • making the calorie text bigger and bolder so it is easier to see,
  • using a serving size that better reflects the amount that people are likely to eat,
  • and importantly, listing the amount of added sugars in the product – a change that health and nutrition advocates, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, have been wanting for years.

The new label is a huge win for consumers who are trying to make better choices at the grocery store.   Given that about 55% of consumers say they often use the Nutrition Facts label to help guide their food choices, the changes to the label have the potential to make a big impact on the foods people buy.… Continue reading →

Cancer Mortality Progress Report: Past Success and Future Challenges

ACS 2015 Challenge Goal Progress Chart

By American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer Otis W. Brawley, MD, FACP and Chief Cancer Control Officer Richard Wender, MD

As leaders of the American Cancer Society, one of our jobs is to look at the big picture; to step back from our day-to-day work and review our nation’s collective progress toward ending the cancer problem.

Analyzing the cancer landscape allows us to figure out what’s working and what isn’t — and to determine what else can be done. Back in the mid-1990s, the American Cancer Society Board of Directors took a hard look at the state of cancer in the United States. Based on what they learned, they challenged the U.S. to cut the cancer mortality rate in half by the year 2015.1 They made the start year 1990.

They knew from the outset that achieving the goal would require the combined efforts of many sectors, and not any one organization.

Today, we are reporting on the nation’s progress toward achieving that goal. Here’s what we have all accomplished together: The cancer death rate declined 26% over the 25-year period of 1990 to 2015. Though the goal of a 50% reduction was only one-half achieved, we believe this progress should be viewed as a glass half full.… Continue reading →

Start Today: What Will You Do to Be More Physically Active?

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

My husband and I once had a 101-year-old neighbor named Arlie. One day, after driving my husband to work, I arrived home – at 7:30 a.m. – and Arlie was out raking the leaves in our front yard.

On garbage day, after the garbage trucks had been up and down the street, Arlie used to wheel ours and all the other neighbors’ empty garbage cans back up to our houses.

If there was anyone who could ever convince me that being active could help you live long and well, it was Arlie.  My father is another one – but more on that in a bit.

Today, the American Cancer Society is part of an event to release the newly revised National Physical Activity Plan. The first National Plan was released in 2010, after the creation of the country’s first National Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans in 2008.

This plan is based on a vision: that one day, all Americans will be physically active, and they will live, work and play in environments that encourage and support regular physical activity.

This is important to the mission of the American Cancer Society, because physical activity reduces the risk of a variety of cancers, and may reduce the risk of recurrence and improve survival, as well.… Continue reading →

When Cancer Hits Home, Hit Back

By Mandi Battaglia Seiler

Having spent nearly 15 years working for the American Cancer Society’s free 24-hour cancer information service (NCIC), I have learned a lot about the challenges cancer patients face when it comes to navigating the health system. This knowledge helped me when it came time for me to care for 3 loved ones dealing with cancer.

Most of the issues I dealt with are the very same concerns patients call us about. Three of my personal experiences in particular provide insight into the important advice we give callers.

Explore all opportunities for treatment

My father-in-law, Ralph, was diagnosed in 1995. He inspired me with his incessant need for more information on how to beat his cancers. First getting diagnosed with prostate cancer and later, a second primary of bladder cancer, he never gave up – even requesting clinical trial information while on hospice care. I lost him in 2007, but not before seeing up close the determination that drives people like him to call our Clinical Trials Matching Service at any stage of their cancer journey.

Advocate for the right care – and be persistent

Before Ralph passed, my mother, Kaye, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Having helped many a patient with access-to-care issues navigate many systems as a member of the American Cancer Society’s Health Insurance Assistance Service team, I was fortunate to know persistence was key.… Continue reading →

More on hot dogs and health

By Colleen Doyle, MS, RD

Nearly five years ago, I wrote a blog about reports that rotisserie chicken was worse for you than hot dogs. It wasn’t strictly true then, and now there’s even more evidence that choosing that hot dog may not be the best choice.

Hot dogs are in the news again. You’ve probably seen the recent headlines: “Bad Day For Bacon: Processed Meats Cause Cancer, WHO Says.”  “Bacon, Hot Dogs as Bad as Cigarettes.”  Or Time Magazine’s cover:  “The War on Delicious.”

Consumer and industry reaction was fast (and furious in some cases, if the Twittersphere is any indication). What prompted all of this? The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), recently released a report classifying processed meat as a carcinogen (something that causes cancer) and red meat, a probable carcinogen.

Red meat (think beef, pork, lamb) and processed meats (think hot dogs, bacon, deli meats) have been linked with cancer, colorectal (commonly called colon cancer) particularly, for a number of years. And the American Cancer Society has recommended since the early 1990s that consumers limit consumption of these foods.

This new report was generated by 22 experts from 10 countries who reviewed more than 800 studies to reach their conclusions.… Continue reading →

Does hormone therapy for breast cancer affect the brain?

By Jeffrey D. Bbottle blurlaustein, PhD

 An important treatment for many breast cancer patients – called hormone therapy, or what I call anti-hormone therapy for reasons that will become clear  – may have side effects that impact brain function – an issue that often gets overlooked.

The vast majority of breast cancers (60-80%) contain estrogen receptors (ERs), so they are referred to as ER-positive. Treatment for ER-positive breast cancer aims to block estrogens in one way or another. These treatments are referred to as hormone therapy.

ER-positive breast cancer patients may get hormone therapy for different reasons. For post-menopausal women, they may be given this treatment after surgery to try to keep the cancer from coming back. In premenopausal women, treatment is typically an estrogen receptor blocker.

While hormone therapy can be effective, as with most drugs, it may also cause possible side effects that can affect quality of life, which you and your oncologist should consider when choosing (or not-choosing) treatment.

An often-overlooked, and also understudied, side effect of hormone therapy is its negative impact on the brain. Research has shown that estrogen-blocking treatments may have a variety of side effects on the brain including possibly increasing the likelihood of depression and anxiety and decreasing verbal memory and fluency.… Continue reading →

Do elephant genes hold the key to stopping cancer?

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By Ted Gansler, MD, MBA, MPH

The DNA of every plant and animal contains the instructions for the chemical reactions that take place in its cells and is essentially the chemical blueprint of that organism. Some of those chemical reactions control how, when, and where cells grow.If those instructions are damaged or deleted, cells can grow and spread abnormally, leading to the diseases we know as cancer. Much of the recent progress in oncology is based on progress in understanding the changes to certain genes in our DNA that cause cancer.

A recent study by researchers from the University of Utah and their colleagues at several other institutions explains how genes in elephants’ DNA might reduce their risk of developing cancer. The elephant gene in question, TP53, is also present in humans, and is damaged or deleted in more than half of all human cancers.

Why elephants matter to cancer researchers

Every time a cell divides, it needs to copy its DNA so that both of the new cells have a full copy of the genetic instructions they need. Cells divide for 2 main reasons – to replace damaged or worn-out cells, and so the plant or animal can grow larger.… Continue reading →

You can do it: fitting in walking has so many benefits

By Alpa Patel, PhD

I just got in from taking a walk with friends on a picture-perfect day with blue skies and the feel of autumn in the air. Let me start by telling you how rejuvenating it is to begin working on a blog after a dose of fresh air!

Last week, the U.S. Surgeon General published a Call to Action to specifically promote walking. I was pretty excited about this because my research largely focuses on physical activity and health, and well, because I personally love walking. But not everyone knows how beneficial physical activity is to your overall health so I wanted to share some of that evidence through this blog.

The notion of regular physical activity being good for us is not new information. In fact, more than 60 years of scientific evidence supports that engaging in regular moderate to vigorous physical activity has a wide range of health benefits, including lower risk of early death overall and prevention of many chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. As a result, our American Cancer Society Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.… Continue reading →

Welcome to the Expert Voices blog!

Welcome to the Expert Voices blog, the newest resource from the American Cancer Society for anyone interested in cancer. On this blog, you can regularly spend a few minutes with the experts who really know about staying well and getting well when it comes to cancer. Expert Voices will give you more than the statistics: it will give you insight. And because it’s from the American Cancer Society, it will all be scientifically-based, credible, and accurate.

We hope you will participate in the conversation and add a comment to our posts. (Please see our comment policy for more information.) You can learn more about Expert Voices policies from our FAQ.

Thank you for visiting the American Cancer Society Expert Voices blog!… Continue reading →