August 23, 2011
By Rebecca Kirch
"We don't beat the Reaper by living longer. We beat the Reaper by living well." Professor Randy Pausch, who died from pancreatic cancer at age 48, made this declaration in a commencement address shortly after enjoying a remarkable and viral reception to his "Last Lecture" at Carnegie Mellon in 2007. His sage words still resonate today, and, in my view from my role with the American Cancer Society, capture so eloquently the heart and soul of what most patients, survivors, and families facing cancer really want. Sadly, that's not the case for many patients and survivors who endure untreated pain, breathlessness, fatigue, nausea, depression, and stress as a result of cancer and its treatment. Which got me thinking...what would be that one magic law to boost quality of life and prevent suffering so that our health system delivers truly patient-centered and family-centered care? More...
August 16, 2011
By Marji McCullough, ScD, RD
Can popping vitamin pills prevent cancer? The simple answer is no, based on what we know so far. In fact, some vitamin supplements have even shown harm. What I'm talking about mostly are pills containing individual nutrients in amounts that are greater than that found in food. Before you stop reading, thinking this is simply another "just eat your vegetables" message, let me give you a little history.
Toward the end of the last century, scientists observed that people with healthy diets, and with higher levels of certain phytochemicals ("phyto" for plant) in their bloodstream, such as beta-carotene, had lower rates of cancer. But observations don't prove cause and effect.
So, after careful evaluation of promising dietary compounds, the scientists began planning randomized, placebo controlled clinical trials ("RCTs") with tens of thousands of healthy people to see if taking supplements of individual phytochemicals could actually prevent cancer. RCTs are considered by most to be the gold standard for proving something works. Most of the supplements tested were antioxidants, which are chemical compounds that combat "free radicals" in the body that can damage DNA and possibly lead to cancer. More...
August 09, 2011
By Otis W. Brawley, MD, FACP
From time to time, I encounter advocates for research in certain diseases. These are people who want better answers for a specific cancer. Oftentimes these folks or a relative has had that particular cancer. They often ask, why is so little money spent on pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, or even lung cancer? Why can't we spend more? These are reasonable questions, and I want to try to address them in this piece.
First I caution against what I call "disease Olympics." This is when advocates for one disease try to increase funding for their disease by decreasing funding for another disease. I have often seen this in my 25 years as an oncologist, researcher, and scientific administrator. I would point out that 90% of the grants that are submitted and judged worthy of funding to the National Cancer Institute, American Cancer Society, and other research-funding organizations are not funded due only to a lack of money. I believe the wise advocate tries to get more money for all cancer research and does not try to undermine another disease in favor of the disease that he or she is interested in. More...
August 02, 2011
By Greta Greer, MSW, LCSW
Taking care of someone you love who has cancer is one of the most important roles you'll ever have. It could also be the most difficult one.
Stress is one of the most common challenges that caregivers face, especially those caring for someone with cancer. It's not easy learning to balance all your regular responsibilities, help your loved one, AND take care of your own health and well-being.
As a result, caregivers often ignore their own physical and emotional health. It could be because they have less time, are too stressed, have less money, feel guilty for taking time for themselves, or simply forget. Whatever the reason, it puts caregivers at much higher risk for health problems than people who aren't in a caregiving role. More...