by Nancy Campbell, MS “How soon can I start exercising after I start cancer treatment?” It’s a question I hear often from patients who visit me for a fitness consult or class at Dana-Farber. My answer? “As soon as possible.” While it may seem counterintuitive, exercise offers key benefits for cancer patients – even those undergoing difficult treatments. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to give yourself an extra boost during and after cancer treatment.
Today, we wanted to take a moment to share a couple of free mobile apps. Both were developed here at Dana-Farber but they have very different uses. The first app is for the iPad and it’s very simple – a year’s worth of beautiful photos showing some of the happier moments in the lives of our patients and staff.
As we approach the Thanksgiving meal, Dana-Farber nutritionists offer some easy tips for enjoying the holiday without packing on pounds. The average Thanksgiving dinner contains at least 3,000 calories. When you add in snacks, appetizers, and drinks throughout the day, you may end up consuming approximately 4,500 calories (two to three times what you may normally eat). Although this is only one meal, excess calories from a holiday season are unhealthy in the long run, as obesity is a risk factor for cancer.
As a cancer researcher, Kimberly Stegmaier, MD, says her chosen profession offers “the mystery and excitement of discovery.” And she says the same is true of her passion outside the laboratory: dance. “It’s a huge hook for me,” she says. Both in scientific research and in working on a dance piece, Stegmaier explains, “You start out testing a hypothesis or an idea, and you don’t know what the results will be. The magic of that unfolding is wonderful.”
A pill bottle isn’t the only option for relieving stress and discomfort caused by cancer and its treatments. Sometimes you can eat your way to feeling better. Dana-Farber nutrition expert Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, suggests some common foods that can pep you up, calm you down, relieve nausea, and potentially fight cancer at the same time.
There’s no better time to barbecue with family and friends than the summer, but grilling meat creates chemicals that may be linked to cancer. Research has shown that high-heat grilling can convert proteins in red meat, pork, poultry, and fish into heterocyclic amines (HCAs), chemicals that have been connected to a number of cancers. Another cancer-causing agent, called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), is found in the smoke. PAHs form when fat and juices from meat products drip on the heat source, causing smoke to form and stick to the surface of the meat as it rises.
Processed foods have become a staple in the U.S., making up as much as 90 percent of American diets. Pre-prepared meals are often less expensive, and save working, busy people time at the end of a long day. However, research from the Organic Trade Association shows that trends are beginning to change. Sales of organic products grew by about 5 percent in 2009, reaching a total of $26.6 billion. And fruits and vegetables, the most popular corner of the organic market, increased sales by 11 percent, or $9.5 billion.
Genes don’t cause cancer, but genetic mutations can. Our cells have about 22,000 genes, which consist of DNA packed into chromosomes inside the cell nucleus. These genes control a wide range of functions, including cell growth and division. When the genes misbehave or mutate, cancer can develop.
If you think a cancer diagnosis automatically means you’ll need to get plenty of bed rest and avoid activity, think again. A host of medical studies show that exercise can not only reduce the chances of developing cancer, it’s also safe during and after cancer treatment, helping improve quality of life, increase energy levels, and decrease the fatigue that many patients report. Here are some tips for starting your own fitness routine, even if you’re facing the challenge of cancer.