Want to avoid a heart attack? How about a stroke? Or is it cancer or diabetes you fear?
Want to avoid a heart attack? How about a stroke? Or is it cancer or diabetes you fear? The advice to avoid all of them is the same — exercise more, stay slim or slim down, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, do not smoke and visit your doctor. The American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association teamed up on Tuesday to deliver a simple, clear message to the U.S. public and to doctors — these top four killers are all mostly caused by lifestyle. Many studies have indicated that up to two-thirds of all cases of cancer are caused by smoking, poor diet, or a lack of exercise, as opposed to unlucky genes or environmental chemicals. The three non-profit groups said it was time to stop competing for resources and to team up to battle diseases that account for nearly two out of every three deaths in the United States. “Poor diet, excess body weight, physical inactivity and smoking are modifiable risk factors that contribute to the premature death of close to 1.5 million Americans from cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke each year,” said Dr. Augustus Grant, president of the American Heart Association and a professor of medicine at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. “There are 10,000 ways you can check out of this world,” added American Cancer Society Chief Executive Officer John Seffrin. “But last year 90 percent of all deaths in America were from 10 things, and 90 percent of that 90 percent was from 4 things — heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes.” Seffrin said despite hundreds of medical studies, media reports and advice from health officials, Americans still had not got the message that they can prevent most cases of chronic disease. “Well over 90 percent of people in America are born healthy and then something goes wrong,” Seffrin told reporters in a telephone briefing. “Here are four unambiguous things you can do to protect yourself from yourself.” More than 60 percent of Americans are overweight or obese and the majority do not get the recommended minimum 30 minutes of exercise on 5 or more days of the week. Fewer than a quarter eat the recommended 5 servings of fruits or vegetables a day and 23 percent still smoke. The groups also want to target public policymakers and doctors, who frequently fail to remind their patients about ways to stay healthy. Specific recommendations for everyone include getting blood pressure and weight measured at least every two years starting at age 20. Everyone should have a cholesterol test every five year starting at age 20 and blood sugar tests every three years starting at age 45. Everyone should also have colon cancer screening every one to 10 years starting at age 50, depending on risk. Women need to have clinical breast exams every three years at age 20 and every year once they are 40. Mammograms need to be done annually starting at age 40 and Pap smears every one to three years. Men need to get prostate specific antigen tests and digital rectal exams starting at age 50 to check for prostate cancer. (Source: American Cancer Society: Reuters Health News: June 2004)