I’ve been thinking about my grandfather a lot lately. Maybe it’s because there’s some wedding planning on the brain, but I’m thinking so much about how I wish he would be here and then realizing how many amazing people won’t be here to celebrate with us.
Cancer is ugly. It’s unforgivable. It’s destructive. It’s unreal, watching someone’s life being taken away right in front of you. Cancer can affect anyone and the scariest part is that while there are risk factors all over the place, it can happen. To anyone. White women are most likely to develop breast cancer, while liver cancer rates continue to increase… there are so many factors involved, and it’s terrifying to see that we can only make so much progress at a time. Find a cure, someone, please.
FUCK CANCER is one of my favorite organizations - one that encourages and promotes early detection (get your screenings done, y'all), to help decrease the statistics surround late on-set diagnoses all over the country. My favorite part? "We are sorry if you are offended or have a problem with the word FxCK! We are offended and have a problem with the word CANCER!" FC is an organization native to Southern California, so they're physically and emotionally close to home.
I read an article the other day about the benefits of running and physical activity, and how even just 30 minutes a day of regular activity can greatly impact even the risk of a variety of cancers – breast, lung, colorectal. Think about that – 30 minutes a day (even just a walk around the block with the dog!) is tied and proven to make such a difference in the obvious ways (weight loss, stress management, and so on) but that it can even help lower the risk of cancer. What a thought.
In late 2002, the Journal of Nutrition published a review of 170 epdemiological studies on the relationship between physical activity and cancer. There's some amazing statistics that continue to emerge out of studies like this one, but here's some of what they found. Colon cancer: 43 of 51 studies produced positive results (more exercise was associated with fewer cancers), with an average risk reduction of 40 to 70 percent. Breast cancer: 32 of 44 studies produced positive results, with an average risk reduction of 30 to 40 percent. Prostate cancer: 15 of 30 studies produced positive results, with an average risk reduction of 10 to 30 percent, particulary of the most aggressive forms. Endometrial cancer: 9 of 13 studies produced positive results, with an average risk reduction of 30 to 40 percent. Lung cancer: 8 of 11 studies showed positive results, with an average risk reduction of 30 to 40 percent. (Information found here, Runners World, 2015).
I don’t smoke, and while I drink, it’s not often and not heavily. I don't use a tanning bed (save for when I'm in a wedding, and then it's like three trips just to get a little color), but I could be a lot better about using sunblock while I'm out on a run.
But that’s also got me thinking, then, about things I can do to ensure I am lowering my risks in any way possible, and not just in my fitness. My food choices, my family history, my alcohol consumption, not using that sunblock as often as I should – am I increasing my risks in any way? Or can I at least maintain my healthy habits to keep my risk at as much a minimum as I can? So sure, there are things I could do more of, or do better, but am I making conscious decisions every day?