As the calendar flipped to a new year, many of us made well-meaning promises to exercise more – and to really mean it this year. Chances are those promises will be forgotten before we’re used to writing 2014 on our checks.
Moving more is all about motivation. Looking better, feeling better, fitting into smaller jeans, running a race faster, keeping up with kids, increasing energy – all are common motivations, and good ones. An even better one: Regular exercise can reduce your risk of cancer and diabetes.
Making the commitment to enough exercise to reduce the risk of these diseases will barely cut into your schedule. Past studies suggest that even three 10-minute sessions of cycling with 10 to 20 second bursts of high-intensity sprints can reduce diabetes risk. The American Diabetes Association recommends moderate-intensity exercise – such as a brisk walk – 30 minutes a day, five days a week to minimize risk.
Researchers are still assessing the type and intensity of exercise most beneficial for cancer risk reduction, but it’s likely to be fairly modest based on the studies that are available. For example, for best reduction in breast cancer risk, women should exercise three to four hours per week – about 25 to 35 minutes per day, according to Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., director of the Division of Etiology at City of Hope. The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity weekly, preferably spread throughout the week.
Tips for getting started: » Continue Reading
Nearly 350 million people worldwide are coping with diabetes, and the disease is expected to be the seventh-leading cause of death by 2030. Aware of these grim statistics, researchers at City of Hope are committed to halting the global epidemic.
On the frontiers of epigenetic engineering
Art Riggs, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases Research, is focused on the possibilities within the field of epigenetics. A concept pioneered by Riggs, epigenetics refers to stable changes in gene expression, some of which can be passed on to future generations — but are not written into our genetic code.
Riggs is currently studying epigenetic engineering, the process of making epigenetic changes in stem or progenitor cells to impact how those cells differentiate, grow and mature. Riggs is collaborating with researchers throughout City of Hope’s Diabetes Research Center to find ways to use epigenetic engineering to increase the supply of beta cells for islet transplantation, and to improve regulatory T cells to reverse autoimmunity. » Continue Reading
Don’t panic. Start small. Increase gradually. Have fun. Eat real food. Listen to your body. Love your body.
Jeanette DePatie, a certified fitness instructor and personal trainer who goes by The Fat Chick, recently offered that advice via TweetChat to people considering their fitness goals for 2014.
Every year, many people vow to lose weight or start exercising more. These are worthy goals – as both have been linked with reduced risk of cancer and diabetes. However, many people give up these resolutions by mid-January, returning to the couch and the drive-thru.
It doesn’t have to be that way, DePatie says. Here’s some of the changes-for-the-long-term advice she and other participants shared in our recent TweetChat.
- It can be scary at first, but the key is to start GENTLY. You can always ramp up. Start with a few minutes and see. @fatchicksings
- Find an activity (or better yet, a few!) you enjoy & do them. (personally, I’m into urbanhikes, rollerblading & yoga) @foodie_fitness
- Good idea to make sure you have charged cell phone for walk. And walk short loops until you’re comfortable with your fitness level. @fatchicksings
- Set some goals and write them down. Then talk to loved ones about them & ask for support. It’s much easier to accomplish w/help. @rxwiki
- Getting fit does not have to be hard or expensive. You can also use a pedometer (like the one I got from COH) to count steps. @fatchicksings
- According to the National Weight Control Registry (the largest prospective investigation of long-term successful weight loss maintenance), 94 percent of participants increased their physical activity. The most common activity reported is walking. @cityofhope
- Opt for healthier food choices rather than substitutions (i.e. instead of sugar/fat substitutes, try using less of regular stuff). @foodie_fitness
- Change is more effective and works better when you start by liking yourself. @fatchicksings
- Spot reducing is a myth. You can use spot exercises to strength, but won’t make that spot smaller. @fatchicksings
- Key term here is LONG TERM. That’s what we want. These life changes are not just two weeks in January. @fatchicksings
For more tips, questions and answers, view the full chat here.
Along with the midnight toast and the Times Square ball drop, New Year’s resolutions are an annual tradition at the changing of the year. But for many who’ve resolved to lead a healthier life in 2014 through mindful eating and regular exercising, sticking with these promises for the rest of year — and beyond — is another matter.
Drastic changes, like going on a diet that eliminates entire food categories or suddenly engaging in rigorous exercise routines, can backfire, according to Peggy Mancini, M.S., R.D., a clinical dietitian at City of Hope, and Jeanette DePatie, a certified fitness instructor who calls herself “The Fat Chick.” Not only are these changes difficult to stick with, they can be downright harmful, these experts say.
“Really long and intense workouts after being sedentary for a while … are a recipe for pain and injury. That is why the sports medicine guys are so busy in February,” DePatie says.
“Any diet that restricts a food group results in a loss of nutrients unique to that group. The lost weight is unlikely to be kept off if it’s not an eating plan you can stick with,” she says.
Instead, Mancini and DePatie offer these tips to resolution-makers so they can keep their promises for better health this year: » Continue Reading
Stem cell donations are usually an anonymous gift, with people who want to help others donating their lifesaving cells simply from the rightness and joy of being able to save another human being. The donor and the recipient almost never meet – except in special circumstances. On the morning of Jan. 1, 2014, at the 125th Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., those special circumstances were in place. Former City of Hope patient Ben Teller met the woman who saved him from Hodgkin lymphoma: Nancy Haag.
Teller had previously spoken of his journey through the disease and transplant process, but Haag’s experience has not been shared publicly. This is her story.
Nancy Haag was attending a community fair with her family near their Newport, R.I., home in 1995, when she saw a booth for the national bone marrow donor registry.
On an impulse, she signed up.
Unlike today’s method of swabbing the inside cheek of a prospective enrollee, organizers collected a sample of her blood that day. “I remember having that big wad of gauze on me, and thinking, ‘Oh, that’s cool. Who knows, maybe they’ll call me.’”
Seventeen years later, in August 2012, they did.
By that time, Haag was a 47-year-old preschool teacher and mother of six who was living in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
The call came during the “crazy-busy” week before her eldest daughter was getting married.
The Connecticut Be the Match office that had organized the Rhode Island donation drive nearly two decades before was calling to let her know she was a potential match, and to ask if she would undergo more thorough testing to confirm her compatibility. Haag learned only that the patient was a male in his early 20s, and had Hodgkin lymphoma.
“I just started thinking about the fact that my daughter and my son were about that age, and certainly, I would do whatever I needed to do for this young man to have a chance.”
Haag already knew about the ravages of Hodgkin lymphoma. When a dear friend and mother of a little boy in her preschool class was diagnosed with the disease years before, “I went through the journey with her,” Haag said. The friend survived chemotherapy and an autologous transplant, in which her stem cells were purified and infused back into her.
In the frenzied days before the wedding, Haag took time to have her doctor draw vials of her blood, then, meticulously following “really explicit directions,” she FedEx-ed her specimens back in a specially designed box packed with blocks of ice.
“I was still thinking they’re probably looking at 10 different people and there’s no way it will be me,” Haag recalled.
Cervical cancer was once one of the most-common causes of cancer death for women in the United States. Now, with better screening techniques, targeted treatments and vaccinations, the death rate has declined dramatically.
“The diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancers have changed markedly in the past 10 years,” said Robert J. Morgan, M.D., co-director of the gynecological cancers program at City of Hope. “The addition of chemotherapy to radiation in locally advanced cervical cancer in the early part of this century added significantly to the long-term, disease-free survivals in this illness.”
Discovering the connection between the human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer was also groundbreaking, allowing for vaccination to lower the risk of cancer. “This discovery has increased our understanding of the pathogenesis of this illness and has allowed the development of very effective vaccines that can prevent the illness from occurring,” Morgan said.
This milestone is especially notable during January, which Congress has deemed Cervical Cancer Awareness Month. Most people will acquire the HPV infection at some point in their lives, but their immune systems will usually eliminate the virus, Morgan said. The risk of developing cervical cancer, however, rises with exposure to the HPV strains that can cause the disease.
Preventive mammogram guidelines have long been a hot topic for debate.
Medical professionals and health care organizations are divided on how often a woman should be screened and at what age a woman should start preventive screening.
Health care organizations such as the American Cancer Society recommend annual mammograms for women beginning at age 40. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women be screened every two years starting at age 50.
A new study, however, found that women who had mammograms every 12 to 18 months lowered the risk that cancer would spread to the lymph nodes.
“[The new study] adds more power behind the fact that we do need screening mammograms starting at age 40 and every year,” said Laura Kruper, M.D., director of the Rita Cooper Finkel and J. William Finkel Women’s Health Center at City of Hope, in an interview with HealthDay.
The new year is fast approaching, and with nearly 70 percent of adult smokers wanting to kick the habit, many people are likely to make the resolution to give up cigarettes for good in 2014.
That’s great — tobacco is the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the United States and over half of smokers reaching middle age will die of a smoking-related illness. Further, it’s never too late to quit. Quitting smoking is beneficial at any age, and smokers who quit before age 35 have mortality rates similar to people who never smoked, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But quitting is easier said than done. Many smokers try to quit multiple times before succeeding, and less than 5 percent are able to quit cold turkey.
That’s not to say quitting is impossible. Just ask Brian Tiep, M.D., director of pulmonary rehabilitation and smoking cessation at City of Hope, and Rachel Dunham, M.S.N., nurse practitioner for smoking cessation and lung cancer screening.