Monday, June 20, 2011

Cancer in Northeastern Pennsylvania

The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute published a report on the incidence, mortality and survival for common cancers. This May 2011 report, covering the years 2003-2007, uses data from the Regional Cancer Registry, the National Cancer Database, and the Bureau of Health Statistics and Research of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Some findings:

  • Five most commonly diagnosed cancer sites in Northeastern Pennsylvania were bronchus and lung; colon and rectum; breast; prostate; and urinary bladder.

  • Cancer incidence was significantly elevated in Northeastern Pennsylvania at 11 cancer sites for both sexes (unless otherwise noted): bronchus and lung; larynx; urinary bladder; kidney; esophagus; Hodgkin's lymphoma; colon and rectum; ovary (female) uterus(female); cervix (female); and thyroid.

  • Cancer incidence was significantly decreased in Northeastern Pennsylvania at five sites for both sexes (unless otherwise noted): breast (female); prostate (male); melanoma; liver; and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

  • The cancer sites that resulted in the highest number of deaths in Northeastern Pennsylvania were (starting with the highest): bronchus and lung; colon and rectum; breast; pancreas; and prostate.

  • Cancer mortality in Northeastern Pennsylvania was significantly elevated at six sites for both sexes (unless otherwise noted): colon and rectum; esophagus; larynx; Hodgkin's lymphoma; ovary (female); uterus (female).

  • Cancer mortality in Northeastern Pennsylvania was significantly decrease at three sites for both sexes: bronchus and lung; multiple myeloma; and liver.

These regional findings should help all those involved in trying to ease the burden of cancer in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The complete report is available on the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute's web site.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sunscreen Products To Get a Makeover

This week the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) issued its final regulations for sunscreen products which establish standards for product testing, put limits on SPF values claimed on labels, and includes other regulations for manufacturers. This is in an effort to protect consumers from excessive sun exposure which causes skin damage and could lead to skin cancer. These regulations go into effect next year.  Here is a summary of what to watch for.

Products that claim "Broad Spectrum"
These products have to pass a standard test for all over-the-counter suncreen products. They have to provide protection agains both ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) and ultraviolet A radiation (UVA). They will be labeled "Broad Spectrum" and "SPF 15" (or higher) on the front. The maximum SPF claim allowed will be "SPF 50+."

The back of these products will tell consumers that if used with other sun protection measures, these products can reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging.

Products that are NOT "Broad Spectrum"
Products not labeled as "Broad Spectrum" and with an SPF value between 2 and 14 have been shown to only prevent sunburn. These products will have a warning label that reads: "Skin Cancer/Skin Aging Alert: Spending time in the sun increases your risk of skin cancer and early skin aging. This product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging."

Spray products
These products will have to provide the FDA with additional data regarding their effectiveness and safety if they are inhaled accidentally.

Water resistance claims
Products must state how much time a user can expect the claimed SPF level of protection while swimming or sweating. This is based on standard testing. Only two timing claims will be allowed, either 40 minutes or 80 minutes. No product will be allowed to claim that is "waterproof" or "sweatproof."

Other Claims
In addition to prohibiting "waterproof" and "sweatproof" claims, no products will be allowed to claim that it is a "sunblock."  Claims of immediate protection upon application are also prohibited. Products will not be allowed to claim that they give protection for more than two hours without reapplication unless the manufacturer submits data and gets approval from the FDA.

Sun Safety Tips
Stay safe in the sun.
  • Use "Broad Spectrum" sunscreens with SPF values of 15 or higher. Use them regularly and as directed. Reapply at least every two hours or more often if you are sweating or in the water.
  • Limit the time you spend in the sun. The sun's rays are the most intense between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
  • Cover skin exposed to the sun. Wear long-sleeved shirts, pants, sunglasses, and broad-brimmed hats.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The food pyramid has been retired! The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, part of the US Department of Agriculture, just released MyPlate, a new way to communicate the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The website has nutritional information, sample menus, tips, individualized plans and other interactive tools and much more. The site has information for kids, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and those who want to loose weight. There are tools to analyze your diet, plan and track your food and physical activity, get a personalized daily food plan for you and your family, and a special planning tool for new moms or a mom-to-be. There is information on each food group and MyFoodapedia gives you information on calories and food comparisons.

Although MyPyramid will no longer be the icon for the dietary guidelines, the nutritional information is still available on the MyPlate site.

How can you make a healthy plate? The new guidelines encourage changes in these three areas:

Balancing Calories
  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.
Food to Increase
  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
Foods to Reduce
  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals-and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Report: Americans Can Prevent Thousands of Colorectal Cancer Cases Each Year

An expert panel of the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research just released a report confirming that colorectal cancer is linked to diet. After a systematic review of the evidence, this update to a previous report shows that Americans should limit red meat to around 17 oz. (cooked weight) per week and avoid processed meat. This would be approximately five or six medium portions. The report also concluded that the evidence is even stronger that dietary fiber like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and beans reduce the risk of bowel cancer.

The evidence for the protective effect of physical activity remains convincing, as well as the evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk for colorectal cancer.

What should you do?
  • Eat more whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruit and eat less processed meat. (most deli meats, hot dogs, bacon, sausage, beef jerky, or other foods containing sodium nitrite)
  • Get at least 30 minutes of physical activity.
  • Move toward a healthier weight.
More recommendations and the report can be found here.