Monthly Archives: March 2012

Want To Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer? Go Take A Walk

I have a confession to make:


As soon as I finished reading the Annual Report to the Nation yesterday as I was preparing to write my blog, I got up from my desk and took a walk for 20 minutes.


What, might you ask, compelled me to do this?


The answer is what made me take a walk is the same reason I am writing this follow-up commentary to yesterday’s blog: Sitting at my desk all day may kill me. It may be doing the same for you. [more]


I don’t know how many of us are aware that physical inactivity-apart from being overweight or obese-is an independent risk factor for cancer. In plain terms, you may think you are healthy because your body weight is normal, but in reality you may be one of those folks who also sit at a desk like I do for 8-10 or more hours a day, or spend your life traveling in cars and airplanes. If you are, then your risk of cancer is increased, independent of how much you weigh. And there are now suggestions that even engaging in vigorous physical activity doesn’t mitigate the adverse impact … Continue reading →

Weight And Inactivity Are Threatening To Overtake Tobacco As Risk Factors For Cancer According To Annual Report To The Nation

The “Annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer” was released this afternoon as has been the case every year since the first report was issued in 1998. And, like many of the reports previously, we are fortunate to continue to see declines in the rates of deaths for many cancers along with a decrease in the frequency of some cancers.


However, the news is not all good.


Unfortunately, the incidence of some cancers continues to increase. And, as explained very clearly in this excellent report, this nation continues to suffer from an epidemic of overweight, obesity and physical activity that the authors suggest-but don’t actually say-has the potential to overcome the favorable impact of declining smoking and tobacco use on cancer incidence and deaths. The implication is clear that if we don’t do something-and do something quickly-to reverse the trend we will see incidence and deaths from certain cancers continue to increase in the future.


And I would stress the point that it is no longer just being oversized that increases your risk of cancer, but also sitting all day on the job (like I am doing right now) as another factor that plays … Continue reading →

Surgeon General’s Report On Preventing Tobacco Use Among Youth and Young Adults: So If We Know What To Do, Why Aren’t We Doing It?

I had the opportunity yesterday to attend the event marking the release of the 31st Surgeon General’s report on tobacco and smoking.


What struck me about this report-which focuses on tobacco use in youth and young adults–is that although we have made progress in the tobacco wars, we presently seem to be in a holding action. We are not making advances in reducing the incidence of smoking and use of smokeless tobacco products, although we are all well aware of their risks and harms.


The fundamental question remains: Although we have a pretty good idea of what works, when are we going to start reinvigorating our efforts to reduce the use of these killer products among our children?


As I have said many times before, tobacco is the one product readily and legally available in the United States that when used as intended will kill half the people who use it. 443,000 deaths a year, 1200 a day, $96 billion each year in direct medical costs and $97 billion in lost productivity. Those, my friends, are big numbers. And they are not just numbers: they are people. They are the people we love, the people we … Continue reading →

FDA: The Quality Problems Causing The Drug Shortage Were Not News To Those Making The Medicines

Sometimes you have the opportunity to be educated, or to learn a bit more about a topic of importance. Yesterday was one of those opportunities.


Attending a meeting (as an observer) of the National Cancer Institute Director’s Consumer Liaison Group on the issue of cancer drug shortages, there were some messages delivered that provided a bit more clarity surrounding a very complex problem. And there were messages delivered that had even me sit up and take notice, and frame the seriousness and depth of the problems that confront patients, their families and those who treat them. The observations were–to say the least–very unsettling. [more]


Try this one, for example:


When describing the role of the Food and Drug Administration in trying to address the problem, an FDA representative who is very involved in addressing drug shortages in general and cancer drugs in particular, made a comment about the manufacturing facility that voluntarily closed down in November and led to severe supply interruptions of several generic and one “branded” cancer chemotherapy drugs.


In brief, the doctor made the comment that dozens of generic drugs were manufactured at the plant. She went on to say that-as is usually … Continue reading →