Cancer Risk Dramatically Reduced with Healthy Lifestyle

By Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

 A review of multiple studies on cancer and lifestyle published in the June 23 issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that following the American Cancer Society/ World Cancer Research Fund guidelines for cancer  prevention was associated with up to a 60   percent decrease in the occurrence of and  death from cancer.

Journal article abstract: http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/early/2016/06/21/1055-9965.EPI-16-0121.abstract

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The results of this study reinforce the relationship between how we choose to live and our risk of disease. Adherence to the American Cancer Society (ACS)/World Cancer Research Fund(WCRF) guidelines for cancer prevention lowered the risk of breast cancer up to 60%, endometrial (uterine lining) cancer  up to 60%, and colorectal cancer up to 52%.

The healthy lifestyle habits associated with the lower cancer risks found in this study also lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

The ACS guidelines include:
  • Maintaining a healthy weight throughout life
                Avoiding excess weight gain at all ages. For those who are                     overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight                     has health benefits.
  • Limiting intake of high-calorie foods and drinks.
  • Being physically active
                      Getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 
                        minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a
                        combination of these), preferably spread throughout 
                        the week.

                         Limiting sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down,
                         watching TV, and other forms of screen-based

                        Doing some physical activity above usual activities, no
                         matter what one’s level of activity.
  •   Eating a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods.
                         Choosing foods and drinks in amounts that maintain a
                          healthy weight.

                          Limiting processed meat and red meat

                         Eating at least 2½ cups of vegetables and fruits each

                         Choosing whole grains instead of refined grain  

  • Limiting alcohol intake
                         Drinking no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2
                           per day for men.

The World Cancer Research Fund guidelines for cancer prevention include all of the above in addition to:

            Meeting nutritional needs through food, not supplements.
            Breastfeeding for at least 6 months.

  Lower your risk of disease by choosing to live a healthy lifestyle.

For more information:

American Cancer Society – Guidelines on nutrition and physical activity

World Cancer Research Fund – Cancer Prevention Recommendations


Don’t Let Your Kids ...Kiss the Turtle!

By Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

According to a CDC report published in the July issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, in the last 10 years there were 15 multi-state outbreaks of salmonella caused by small turtles. Since all turtles have salmonella bacteria in their intestines, it gets on their skin and shells. Kissing them, letting them roam on counter tops and tables, and cleaning their bowls in the kitchen sink or bathtub are likely to lead to a salmonella infection.  

Although the sale of small turtles (those smaller than 4 inches) was banned in 1975, they are still being sold illegally and are easily obtained.

A summary of the report is at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_159393.html

For the complete report: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/22/7/15-0685_article

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Salmonella infection is more often associated with undercooked chicken than with pets in the home. But, reptiles and amphibians (turtles, along with frogs, iguanas, snakes, geckos, horned toads, salamanders, and chameleons) all have salmonella in their intestinal tracks which puts people at risk of infection when they come in contact with their droppings.

According to the CDC, most salmonella infections from these animals occur in children under the age of 5. And it’s not just from touching the turtle or lizard, salmonella infection can occur from touching the aquarium water or any of the objects in the aquarium or cage where the pet lives. Regardless of the source of the bacteria, a salmonella infection can be particularly serious in older adults, infants, young children, pregnant women, and those with weak immune systems.

The salmonella bacteria get into the body by:

  • eating with hands that are contaminated with the bacteria ( from playing with the turtle or other reptile or amphibian pet)

  • putting contaminated hands in the mouth

  • kissing the turtle (reptile or amphibian pet)

Symptoms begin within 12 – 72 hours after infection and include:

  • Diarrhea (which may be bloody)
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Abdominal cramps
Depending on the severity of the symptoms, a salmonella infection can be fatal if not properly treated.

To reduce the risk of salmonella infection, the CDC advises the following:

  • DO
    • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water immediately after touching a reptile or amphibian, or anything in the area where they live and roam.
    • Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
                         Adults should always supervise hand washing for
                           young children.
    • Keep reptiles and amphibians out of homes with children younger than 5 years old or people with weakened immune systems.

    • Habitats and their contents should be carefully cleaned outside of the home. Use disposable gloves when cleaning and do not dispose of water in sinks used for food preparation or for obtaining drinking water.

    • Wash any clothing the reptile or amphibian might have touched.

    • Use soap or a disinfectant to thoroughly clean any surfaces that have been in contact with reptiles or amphibians.

  • DON'T
    • Don't let children younger than 5 years of age, older adults, or people with weak immune systems handle or touch amphibians or reptiles, or anything in the area where they live and roam, including water from containers or aquariums.

    • Don't keep reptiles and amphibians in child care centers, nursery schools, or other facilities with children younger than 5 years old.

    • Don't touch your mouth after handling reptiles or amphibians and do not eat or drink around these animals.

    • Don't let reptiles or amphibians roam freely throughout the house or in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, pantries, or outdoor patios.

    • Don't bathe animals or clean their habitats in your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, or bathtub. To prevent cross-contamination, animals should be bathed in a small plastic tub or bin that is dedicated for animal use only.

      • If bathtubs must be used for these purposes, they should be thoroughly cleaned afterward.
      • Use bleach to disinfect a sink, bathtub, or other place where reptile or amphibian habitats are cleaned.
For more information:

Centers for Disease Control – Warning for Parents

Centers for Disease Control – Salmonella

Centers for Disease Control – Turtles, reptiles and salmonella

Does the antacid you take contain aspirin?
If it does, you might be at increased risk of bleeding  

By Joanna Hayden, PhD, CHES

Last week, (June 6, 2016) the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a news release about the possibility of serious bleeding from taking antacids that contain aspirin.

The people at greater risk of bleeding are those who:
  • take blood thinners
  • take steroids like prednisone for inflammation
  • take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs  such as  ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Alleve)
  • have three or more alcoholic drinks a day
  • have a history of stomach ulcers
  • are over 60

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If you are among those identified by the FDA as being at greater risk of serious bleeding,  check the active ingredients on the label of the antacid you use. Obviously, look for ‘aspirin’ but also look for acetylsalicylic acid and ASA. They are other names used for aspirin.

If your antacid does contain aspirin, switch to one of the many non-aspirin antacids. If you aren’t sure if an antacid is aspirin free, ask the pharmacist.

In its news release, the FDA   listed the following antacids as containing aspirin:

Alka-Seltzer Original
Bromo Seltzer
Medique Medi Seltzer
Picot Plus Effervescent
Vida Mia Pain Relief
Winco Foods Effervescent Antacid and Pain Relief
Zee-Seltzer Antacid and Pain Reliever

If you use a generic or store brand antacid make sure to check that label, too. Many of them also contain aspirin.

 More information:

FDA - News Release

FDA – Safety Announcement

FDA – Over the Counter Drug Fact Label

National Library of Medicine – Taking Antacids

To Decrease Your Risk of High Blood Pressure,
Breathe Clean Air!

by: Joanna Hayden, Phd, CHES

In an effort to resolve an ongoing controversy about whether air pollution increasing the risk of high blood pressure, researchers reexamined the results of 17 previous studies on the matter. Their analysis revealed that some air pollutants specifically, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, are associated with increased risk of high blood pressure.  The results of this investigation were published in the May 31, 2016 issue of the journal Hypertension.

A summary of this study is at: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_159115.html

The complete article in the journal Hypertension is at: http://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/early/2016/05/31/HYPERTENSIONAHA.116.07218.full.pdf

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Hypertension or high blood pressure, is a major risk factor for stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure.  It doesn’t have one cause, it has many including:  hormones that control fluid and salt balance, blood vessels structure, genetics, lifestyle – diet, exercise and alcohol intake, obesity, sleep apnea and kidney function. (National Institute of Health, 2015) With the results of the study above, air pollution can be added to this list.

While some of the risk factors can’t be controlled, genetics and blood vessel structure for example, others can be and exposure to poor air quality is among them. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Air Quality Index (AQI) is a good guide to help you limit your exposure. The AQI  measures the level of five air pollutants, three of which were found to be associated with high blood pressure in the study above, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter. The other two pollutants measured by the EPA are ozone and carbon monoxide.

 The EPA uses a range of 0 to 500 and color codes to measure air quality. The higher the numerical value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. An AQI value of 50 or below in the green zone means the air quality is good with little risk of illness from pollution. But, air quality in the red zone, 151- 200, is unhealthy for everyone.


     Environmental Protection Agency (2016). Air quality index basics. Available from:  https://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=aqibasics.aqi

To reduce exposure to potentially harmful pollutants, check the air quality before going outdoors for any length of time.  For an EPA report on the air quality in your town,  type in your zip code at:  https://airnow.gov/index.cfm?action=aqibasics.aqi 

The example below is the report for Sparta, NJ on June 6, 2016.

For more information:

National Institutes of Health – Causes of high blood pressure

Environmental Protection Agency – Air Quality Index Guide

American Heart Association – Air pollution, heart disease and stroke

American Heart Association – FACTS – Danger in the Air