Fitness versus fatness: which matters more?

Two U-M experts weigh in on what the evidence tells us

scale2There is a longstanding debate in the research community about the importance of fitness versus fatness in health. Are exercise and improving fitness more important than eating well and maintaining a healthy weight?

Some researchers argue fatness does not affect health as long as you are fit, which means your heart and lungs are strong. And national campaigns like Let’s Move are focused on exercise for health without a specific focus on weight loss.

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From the ancient Greeks to modern medicine (part 2)

Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on cancer features U-M medical historian

cancer film logo.fwTonight, most PBS television stations in the U.S. will begin broadcasting “Ken Burns Presents Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies” — a three-night documentary film about all aspects of cancer.

University of Michigan medical historian Howard Markel was one of the internationally known experts interviewed for the film, and offered perspectives based on his knowledge of the history of cancer and key historical figures in the fight against cancer.

In Part 1 of our interview, he discussed the topic of cancer from the ancient Greeks to the early 1900s. Here, he looks at the modern era — and reflects on the experience of taking part in the film’s production.

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From the ancient Greeks to modern medicine (part 1)

Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on cancer features U-M medical historian

A depiction of ancient Greek physician Galen treating a patient, by 20th century artist Robert Thom

A depiction of ancient Greek physician Galen treating a patient, by 20th century artist Robert Thom

If you look in the night sky at this time of year, you might see a constellation called Cancer. To the ancient Greeks, who gave it that name, the collection of stars looked like a crab. So they gave it the Greek name for crab: carcinos.

Later, the Romans kept that name for the same constellation, but used the Latin word for crab: cancer.

Both cultures also used those words for something else: a terrible disease that formed growths as hard as crab shells inside the body, and sent spindly legs out from a central body.

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A Better (More Comfortable) Colonoscopy

Better Colonoscopy blogA colonoscopy cannot only detect colon cancer, it can also prevent it. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, so it’s important to follow screening and prevention guidelines. Unfortunately, many people are so anxious about getting a colonoscopy that they avoid this potentially lifesaving procedure. With medical advances, today’s colonoscopy is a much better experience than those in the past.

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Colorectal cancer risk and genetics

colon cancer blogEveryone is at risk for colon cancer, but that risk is not the same for everyone. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer affecting men and women and each year, there are about 93,000 new cases of colon cancer and 39,610 new cases of rectal cancer diagnosed in the United States. The average person has a 5 percent chance of developing colon cancer, but some people are at a higher risk.

The most common risk factors for colon cancer are:

  • Age
  • Lifestyle
  • Race/ethnic background
  • Personal medical history
  • Family medical history

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