Licensed Psychologist

Obesity and Cancer

Obesity and inactivity could someday account for more cancer deaths than smoking if current trends continue, a leading cancer expert says.  As the rate of smoking decreases, other unhealthy habits threaten to offset the progress in reducing cancer deaths, says Richard Wender, a physician and chief cancer control officer at the American Cancer Society (ACS). A study in the New England Journal of Medicine last fall found 13 types of cancer were linked to excess body weight.  There's no guarantee that obesity and inactivity will surpass smoking as a cancer cause, Wender says, but the possibility is startling. "Who would’ve thought we’d ever see the day where what you eat (and) exercise, could account for more cancer deaths than smoking?” he asks.  The connections between smoking and too much exposure to the sun and cancer are well known, but the connections between nutrition and exercise and cancer are less known and harder to determine. Calculating cancer's link to obesity is difficult in part because of an overlap in cancer risk factors, says ACS' Rebecca Siegel, strategic director of ACS' surveillance information services.   Siegel comments that 20% of cancers are caused by poor diet, alcohol consumption, a lack of physical activity and/or excess weight.  However, that 20% cannot be combined with the 30% of cancer deaths caused by cigarette smoking since poor people are more likely to be obese and to smoke than those who are more affluent people.  A striking 50% of all cancer deaths could be prevented by following the basics of a healthy lifestyle, says Wender. That includes diet and exercise and having regular cancer screenings and getting the HPV vaccine that helps prevent cervical cancer and likely oral cancer and for Hepatitis B, which can lead to liver cancer.

Managing Traumatic Stress: Dealing with the Hurricanes from Afar

Originally published by the American Psychological Association Even if you were not directly affected by the hurricanes, you may be distressed from watching images of the destruction and worrying about people’s who lives have been turned upside down. This can be especially true if a relative or loved one was affected by the disaster. APA offers the following suggestions for managing your hurricane-related distress:
  • Take a news break. Watching  endless replays of footage from the disasters can make your stress even greater. Although  you'll want to keep informed - especially  if you have loved ones affected by the disasters  -  take a break from watching  the news.
  • Acknowledge your feelings. Some feelings when witnessing a disaster may be difficult for you to accept. You may feel relief that the disaster  did not touch you, or you may feel guilt that you were left untouched  when so many were affected. Both feelings are common.
  • Keep things in perspective.  While the disaster can feel overwhelming, it is important to appreciate those things that continue  to be positive and a source of well-being and strength.
  • Find a productive way to help if you can. Many organizations are set up to provide  financial or other aid to victims of natural disasters. Contributing enables you to participate in the recovery and engage proactively.
  • Control what you can. There are routines in your life that you can continue and sometimes you need to do those and take a break from even thinking about the disasters.
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