5 ways smoking hurts your heart

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University of Michigan cardiologist Dr. G. Michael Deeb wants his patients to know something: Nicotine is toxic not only to the lungs but also to the heart. “When most patients think of the dangers of smoking, they think about the lungs,” says Dr. Deeb. “But cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in Michigan, and smoking is accelerating the problem.”

According to the American Heart Association, as many as 30 percent of all coronary heart disease deaths in the United States each year are attributable to cigarette smoking, and the more you smoke, the greater your risk. But even people who smoke fewer than five cigarettes a day can have early signs of cardiovascular disease. Continue reading

Opportunity of a Lifetime: Help Researchers Understand Factors that Cause and Prevent Cancer

Learning that you or a loved one has cancer can be frightening and overwhelming. If there was a simple way you could do something to prevent others from facing cancer, would you be willing to give it a try?

If you answered yes, then here’s an opportunity of a lifetime for you or your loved ones to enroll in the American Cancer Society’s new research study called the Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3). By joining CPS-3, people can help researchers better understand the genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that cause or prevent cancer, which will ultimately save lives.

The study is open to anyone who:

  • is willing to make a long-term commitment to the study, by completing periodic follow-up surveys at home
  • is between 30 and 65 years old
  • has never been diagnosed with cancer (those with basal or squamous cell skin cancer can still participate)

As part of enrollment you’ll be asked to:

  • Read and sign an informed consent form
  • Complete a survey that will ask you for current information on lifestyle, behavioral and other health factors
  • Have your waist measured
  • Give a small blood sample (similar to a doctor’s visit – 7 teaspoons total). The blood sample is drawn by a trained, certified phlebotomist
  • Complete periodic health surveys at home to update your information

Enrollment is being held at locations across the nation, including in Ann Arbor beginning in October. View enrollment times and schedule your appointment.

If you are a cancer survivor, you can still get involved. Tell your friends and loved ones about how they can enroll, prevent cancer for future generations and make a difference in the life of another.

For more information visit: www.cancer.org/cps3 ; email cps3@cancer.org or call 888-604-5888.

Taking Cancer in Strides

By Lisa Cummins

Lisa Cummins addresses the participants at the 2011 American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.

Cancer runs in my family. My uncle was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 1996 and shortly thereafter, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although a person usually has one type of cancer which metastasizes to other areas, my mom produced different types – lung, small cell lymph node – over the next three years until she passed in early 1999.

Six months later I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

After my treatments ended in 2001 I became involved in the American Cancer Society (ACS). When I was first diagnosed I was really afraid that I was going to die like my mother. I found out about the ACS’s Reach to Recovery Program and they put me in touch with a woman who had a similar situation – and she was a 15-year survivor at the time. So I wanted to give back. I started at a Relay for Life (on my diagnosis date of June 30), then became a captain and now am participating in the ACS Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. Over the past 11 years I have continued with these events because I feel that we go through difficult things to grow and help others. And through the ACS I am helping others, and now even cancer patients at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Cancer has and continues to play a big role in my life. Through my time as a caregiver for my mom, and the countless hours I spent in the hospital for my cancer treatments, I became increasingly grateful and appreciative of the work the nurses did. Recently I received my registered nursing (RN) degree and started work at U-M’s Acute Leukemia Unit.

I feel blessed to be alive and feel it’s my life’s purpose to help others who struggle with a cancer diagnosis. I know many who have not beat cancer — this is the least that I can do.

Lisa has been a long-standing team captain for the annual American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and was the spokesperson for the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center teams in 2011. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, October 27, 2012 on the campus of Washtenaw Community College. Teams are currently forming and you can find out how to participate on the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center Community Champion Team by contacting Martha Laatsch.

Sarcoma: Seeking Care for a Rare Cancer

Sarcoma – a cancer most people have never heard of….it’s rare; only 1% of all cancers diagnosed in adults and 15% of childhood cancers are sarcoma.

There are numerous types of sarcoma classified according to where the tumor originates in the body.  For example, bone sarcomas begin in the bone; soft tissue sarcoma may start in the muscle, tendons, fat or other tissues that support, connect or surround organs, joints, blood vessels or nerves.

It’s not surprising when the diagnosis is a rare cancer- like sarcoma, that patients and family can experience a wide range of emotions including:

  • Shock- if the person is not feeling  ill or having pain
  • Distress and vulnerability with the realization of facing a life threatening illness
  • Confusion surrounding understanding complex medical information

Many people with a new diagnosis of sarcoma are not sure what to do, or what kind of doctor to see. Continue reading

A Consequence of Obesity: Increased Cancer Risk

The statistics are alarming and worth sharing: over the past 20 years the number of overweight and obese children and adults continues to climb.  Only 1/3 of people in the United States maintains a healthy body weight — that means 2/3 of the population is considered overweight or obese.

We should be concerned. Excess weight has multiple consequences including enhanced risk for developing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and stroke, among other conditions.

In fact, if you are a man and are obese, you have an increased risk of developing male breast cancer and cancers of the colon/rectum, prostate, pancreas, kidney, esophagus and others.

According to the American Cancer Society, 1 of every 3 cancers is related to excess body weight, poor nutrition or being inactive. If the rising trend in obesity continues, it’s predicted there will be 500,000 additional cases of cancer in the U.S. by 2030.

The National Cancer Institute says research reveals obesity and the development of cancer are linked together in a couple of different ways:

  • fat produces excess hormones (like estrogen and insulin) that encourages the growth of certain types of cancers
  • fat cells can affect cell growth regulation that may result in fostering  tumor growth
  • obesity can result in a chronic inflammation process which impacts the immune system function

Recently, HBO, in partnership with the Institute of Medicine, the National Institutes of Health, the CDC and others released an online documentary titled “The Weight of the Nation”. Watching all or just a few of the videos will be time well spent. It’s a great way to learn more about obesity and get suggestions for ways to take action for yourself, your family or your community.

What action you’ve taken for targeting or staying at a healthy weight? Post your answer below.

Learn more about the risks of obesity and get tips on weight loss

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Grill Safe This Memorial Day

We know eating healthy is important in fighting cancer. So how can you enjoy your Memorial Day cookout with friends and families without tossing healthy eating aside?

Each year, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center dietitians field questions from patients about whether it’s safe to grill, given the evidence that grilled meats may contain cancer-causing agents. But new guidelines from the American Institute for Cancer Research suggest that the type of food you grill may be more important than how you prepare it.

Hot dogs and hamburgers – the all-American summer standards – may be among the worst culprits in causing colorectal cancer. Research has shown a convincing link between diets high in processed meat and red meat – which includes beef, pork and lamb. Every 3.5 ounces of processed meat — about two hot dogs – increases the risk for colorectal cancer by 42%.

Given the data, we recommend our patients follow AICR guidelines. Limit the amount of red meat you eat. Think of it as an occasional indulgence. Make processed meats including hot dogs a treat for a special occasion – like an annual outing at the ballpark. Use these guidelines year-round to lower your risk.

And this summer, continue to use caution when grilling. All animal meats produce cancer-causing chemicals when they are seared at high temperatures — whether on a grill or on a conventional stove. It’s still unclear whether eating these chemicals will increase your cancer risk. But while researchers continue to learn more about whether there’s a link between grilling and cancer, you can protect yourself and still enjoy a backyard barbecue. Read on to learn strategies to limit your exposure.

Grilling tips

You know the blackened bits that cling to the meat? The stuff cooks love for its flavor? Well, unfortunately, that’s the stuff that contains all the toxins that may increase your cancer risk. Try not to eat it and consider these tips for limiting your exposure:

  • Chicken out. The most important thing you can do — whether you’re grilling or not — is limit red meats and processed meats that contain nitrates. Choose chicken or fish instead.
  • Marinate your meat. Research has shown that a marinade can reduce the formation of carcinogens by more than 90%.
  • Experiment with vegetables and fruits. Cancer-causing chemicals arise from grilling only animal tissue. Blackened bits on fruits and vegetables are harmless.
  • Scale back meat portions. Consider kabobs. It’s a great way to add fruits and vegetables while cutting back on meat.
  • Limit flare-ups that char food by selecting leaner meats or grilling on aluminum foil. If you use foil, punch small holes to allow the fat to drain.
  • Flip meat frequently to prevent it from getting too black.

The American Cancer Society also offers A Backyard Chef’s Guide to Healthy Grilling. For more safer options to serve on Memorial Day, or anytime, here are some great recipes. Share your favorite summertime recipes with us below.

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