Archives for July 2013

Stand Up For Your Health

Stand Up For Your Health

This is not just a “catchy” slogan but is actually a fact. There is a growing body of evidence that has shown that sitting for long periods of time can be extremely bad for your health, almost as much as smoking. Periods of prolonged sitting is being studied by researchers to be linked to multiple health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer. Prolonged sitting increases inflammation, insulin resistance, and obesity.

How can this happen? Not only is sitting lousy at burning calories but it has been shown to suppress the production of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase which is essential for turning bad cholesterol into good. Sitting has also been linked to insulin resistance and, therefore, trouble metabolizing sugar.

Unfortunately, our work environment has significantly contributed to the time most people spend sitting each day. Most jobs have removed physical activity in our lives and most of us spend our time at work sitting at desks with very little movement throughout the day. Watching television at home and computers only add to the number of hours spent sitting.

One study of men in the Netherlands reported that occupational sitting for 6-8 hours per day increased the risk for colon cancer. Other studies found that women who sat for long periods were also at a higher risk for developing endometrial cancer than were those who did not, regardless of whether the women participated in moderate to vigorous physical activity. A U.S. study found that women who sat for 6 hours or more per day had a 28% higher risk for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma than did women who sat for less than 3 hours per day.

In fact, exercise alone does not overcome the increased risks of prolonged sitting. The American Cancer Society published a study in 2010 in which mortality rates during the 14 year follow-up period were lower for participants who exercised regularly than for those who did not. However, study participants who sat for 8 hours or more per day had higher mortality rates than those who sat for less than 3 hours per day. In other words, physical exercise seems to reduce but not eliminate the negative effects of sitting.

How can we change our habit of prolonged sitting? Very easily! We need to get in the habit of learning to stand at work and at home more and spend less time on our bottoms. We need to take breaks, even 1 to 2 minute breaks every hour can lead to improved health. Some people have carried this to extreme measures such as putting a treadmill at their desks and spend time walking instead of sitting. Learning to take the stairs and getting up to talk to co-workers instead of calling or e-mailing will get us moving more in the workplace. Try pacing when on the phone or schedule walking meetings are other suggestions.

Remember to be creative; get up and just don’t sit there. Stand up for your health.

Mayo Cancer Expert Joins Green Bay Oncology

Mayo Cancer Expert Joins Green Bay Oncology

Green Bay Oncology is pleased to announce the addition of Brian Burnette, M.D. An experienced hemotologist and oncologist, Dr. Burnette has been involved in numerous studies, is well published and lectures internationally on cancer-related topics.

Rethinking the War on Cancer

Rethinking the War on Cancer

We talk about cancer in warlike terms. Patients “battle the disease”. Physicians treat “aggressively”. In 1971, President Nixon “declared war on cancer” by signing the National Cancer Act which created much of the current research structure. Without this bellicose spirit, we may never have re-imagined cancer as an enemy to be defeated rather than a shameful curse to be borne in silence.

But if we continue to think only in this simplistic way, we must conclude that we’re already in a stalemate. I think it’s past time for cancer treatment to get a better metaphor.

For three generations, cancer medicine resembled Winston Churchill’s philosophy of World War II; we poured toxic drugs into patients until every cancer cell was “sponged and purged and, if need be, blasted from the surface of the earth”.1 For a handful of highly curable and very chemotherapy-sensitive cancers, this can still work: testicular cancer, many lymphomas, and some leukemias, for instance. But we’ve learned the hard way that more treatment doesn’t always give better results. Sometimes more treatment only increases side effects, not cure rates.

Treating cancer requires us to carefully balance the side effects of treatment against a realistic expectation of results. Modern cancer survivors experience far fewer side effects and hospitalizations than in the early days of cancer medicine, and live better and longer than ever before. This is because supportive care is better than ever before, and because the kind of “scorched earth” tactics that defined cancer medicine of the last century is largely a thing of the past.

Another revelation: cancer, far from being an invasion, is one of the natural perils of aging. And it’s one of the more common ways multicellular organisms (like humans) die. Read Mark Wolverton’s recent article in Wired for a nuanced view of the topic: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/05/al_argcancer/

This is not an admission of defeat, but merely a change in tactics. There are many cancers that patients can live with quite well, needing only periodic treatment. Prostate cancer, sluggish types of lymphoma, and some forms of breast cancer can behave like this. Many newer drugs are aimed at stopping growth, rather than eradicating; the cancer isn’t cured, but the cancer isn’t growing or making patients sick, either.

1. Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s Speech to the Allied Delegates, James’s Place, London, June 12, 1941. http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/timeline/410612bwp.html