So often scientific studies make their way into our newspapers, TV, and online feeds – typically in short snippets with little context and reliable information on what they mean to us and our lives. That’s why, at VCS, we like to take the opportunity to regularly highlight headlines in the news related to nutrition and cancer and clarify what they mean for our patients and those they love!
Context: Do you remember hearing in the past couple of years that, instead of recommending colonoscopies for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening at 50 years, the recommended age had been lowered to 45 years? Screening guidelines are continuously updated based on current knowledge, and recent data show increased CRC cases at earlier ages, impacting the window for early detection. In addition to promoting early detection, the scientific community is hard at work to target opportunities for prevention, including identifying potential risk factors that may be at play in the mother before pregnancy and during gestation, as well as in early years through adulthood. This particular study showed that maternal overweight and obesity, measured both prior to and during pregnancy, is associated with increased risk of the child developing CRC later in life.
Recommendation: Scientific evidence continues to point to the importance of maintaining a healthy weight for the prevention of cancer and its re-occurrence. Therefore, individuals should strive to build overall healthy habits of consuming plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy and to be physically active. I expect that more will be learned in the coming years regarding the importance of being at a healthy weight during key life stages such as pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Context: Speaking of prevention and habits, there’s nothing like a surprise pandemic to throw even the most adherent and consistent individuals off track with their preventative health screenings. As with other health issues, they may not be experienced equitably across the population with this study showing that US women, and in particular those in low-income areas, were more likely to miss important screening milestones. Specifically, breast and cervical cancer screenings were down 96.6% and 90.5%, respectively, in April 2020 compared to April 2019. These missed screenings will likely lead to diagnoses of more advanced cancer in the coming months and years.
Recommendation: Better late than never! Catch up on all those screenings and get back on track to have them regularly, in the intervals recommended by your healthcare provider.