Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cancer and Lifestyle

A supplement in the British Journal of Cancer, entitled "The Fraction of Cancer Attribuatable to Lifestyle and Environmental Factors in the UK in 2010" was published last week. They looked at things that they knew caused cancer (such as smoking and drinking alcohol) and that were things that people could choose to change in their life. Using statistical analysis they worked out how much these exposures contribute to total amount of cancer in the UK. Amazingly they found that all of the factors together account for 43% of new cancer cases in the UK and about 50% of all deaths.

So that means, that if we choose to lead a healthy lifestyle we can significantly reduce our chances of getting cancer. 

The exposures are all things that we know cause cancer, smoking being the number 1 culprit. But what we didn't really know was exactly what a difference all these things make. 

The exposures in order of significance are:

  • LOW FRUIT AND VEG DIET (not getting 5 a day)
  • OCCUPATION (being exposed to chemicals)
  • LOW FIBRE DIET (having less than 23 grams a day)
  • NOT BREAST FEEDING (for up to 6 months)
  • EATING TOO MUCH SALT (having 6g or more of salt)
  • HRT 

I find it interesting that being over-weight is above alcohol consumption. And that breast feeding is more important than having a low salt diet. Anyhow, the list allows you to see where your weaknesses are and what is the most important point to concentrate on. Obviously there are benefits to a healthy diet other than reducing your cancer risk.

Anyhow, for me, it's reduce alcohol and red meat (again)....

For more informamation check out the actual supplement and the Cancer Research UK website who funded the research. They have a graphic which shows you which risk factors are related to which cancers.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

WHO report increase in measles.

A WHO report this week reported on an increase in transmission and outbreaks of measles in Europe in 2011. Most of the cases (nearly half) were in children aged 15 and over, with nearly a quarter occuring in children aged 5 -15 and exactly a quarter occuring in children aged under 5. The figures are really quite alarming with over 26 000 cases, including 9 measles associated deaths. In over 90% of the cases, the people had either not been vaccinated or their vaccination history was unknown.

The encouraging news is that the Health Protection Agency reported in June 2011 that uptake rates for children aged 2 had reached 90% (the highest level for 13 years.) Unfortunately this is not the 95% needed protect people with 'herd immunity' (i.e. enough of the population have the vaccination to stop it from spreading.) Still, it is a step in the right direction.

However, the WHO aim to eliminate measles in Europe by 2015 which means that the vaccination rate will have to be at least 95% in that entire population. They say their latest report 'reveals a serious challenge' to that aim. 

So, if you have a child who hasn't been vaccinated, I strongly urge you to get it done.