According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the American Cancer Society, February is not just the month set aside for heart health awareness. It is also National Cancer Prevention Month. Broadly defined, cancer is a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in the body. Note that cancer doesn’t just affect humans. Canines can get the disease, as well. In fact, 50 percent of dogs over the age of 10 will get some type of cancer during the remainder of their lives. An active cancer prevention campaign is crucial, since cancer affects so many Americans:
- More than one million people in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year.
- Cancer is the leading cause of death for much of the U.S. population.
- 1,658,370 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2015.
- 589,430 people died from cancer-associated ailments last year.
- Approximately 39.6 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with all cancer sites at some point during their lifetime.
- The most common types of cancer diagnoses include cancers of the breast (females), lung and bronchus, prostate, colon & rectum, bladder, melanoma of the skin, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, thyroid, kidney and renal pelvis, and endometrial.
- Cancer isn’t fun.
The good news is that cancer diagnoses and associated death rates are declining in the U.S., due to increased awareness, early detection, new treatment protocols, and follow-through on prescribed treatments. Doctors determine the stage of a patient’s cancer relative to the extent cancer has progressed in the body. Staging helps physicians determine treatment options and has a strong influence on the length of survival rates post-diagnosis. In general, if the cancer is found only in the part of the body where it started it is localized (sometimes referred to as stage one). If it has spread to a different part of the body, the stage is referred to as regional or distant. So it’s a different stage than our son, J.R., enjoys performing on. The earlier cancer is caught; the better chance a person or a dog has of surviving five years after being diagnosed.
Each February, the AICR leads a campaign to inform the public about ways to prevent cancer. The institute considers these 10 lifestyle guidelines critical for cancer prevention:
- Aim to be a healthy weight throughout life.
- Be physically active every day in any way for 30 minutes or more. Limit sedentary behavior. Take your dog for more walks!
- Choose mostly plant foods, Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes.
- Limit red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meat. I guess this means bacon? The horror of it!
- Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods.
- If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to one per day for women and two per day for men.
- Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with sodium.
- Don’t rely on supplements to offset unhealthy dietary habits.
- Mothers are advised to breastfeed babies for at least six months before adding other liquids and solid food to their diets.
- Cancer survivors should consider treatments advised by medical professionals and should stringently follow recommendations for cancer prevention.
Remember that safety is a daily priority, not just where human or canine cancer is concerned. So be sure to think about ways to #BeSafe all of the time. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.