Lifestyle Cancers: Two Most Preventable Causes Harming Kids

rip-graphic.jpgJunk food causes cancer? Well, sorta. Reuters News reports that the President’s Cancer Panel just released some poignant data that will make time stressed families think twice about snarfing dinner at the drive-through.

The cancer correlation is echoed in Australia’s research findings, their kids’ food marketing and legislative action as well. News reports confirm preventable lifestyle cancers are on the upswing, despite the fact that overall, according to ACS statistics, cancer is declining.

Cancer accounts for more than a half million deaths each year in the United States, with almost 1.5 million new cases diagnosed annually…But get this: Two-thirds of these deaths, and many thousands of new cases, could be avoided through lifestyle changes. Will modern society’s tombstone read, “Here lies all future generations, they were marketed to death?”

I’ve pummeled Shaping Youth readers with FTC kids food analysis, avoidable obesity no-nos and the damaging impact of hyper-marketing such processed pollution into wee one’s bods, but the cancer corollary between subtle teen tobacco marketing and junk food marketing is quickly growing from “don’t puff” to include “don’t STUFF” as you can see by the full cancer panel (pdf file) report.

Studies have long proven tobacco is a major culprit in multiple cancers well beyond the lungs, which is why we rail so vehemently in tobacco subversively targeting teens and particularly girls like this and this in ‘hook ‘em while they’re young’ body chemistry addiction.

But guess what?

Junk food is gaining on tobacco, both are now paired in the annual cancer panel report, and new articles on early preferences and habitual intake is even surfacing. (Shaping Youth’s Washington D.C. correspondent Rebecca Scritchfield conveys this in the mythology of ‘eating for two,’ a precautionary piece for junk food eating moms-to-be using lab rat research!)

Interesting that snuffing out the glamorama of smoking in movies is getting some traction among the medical community, yet sadly, teen smoking is no longer leveling off. At least tobacco subsidies and marketing were curtailed so the industry’s not ‘contributing’ to the problem. The same cannot be said for junk food. (personal responsibility trumps nanny state banishment altogether since stupidity cannot be legislated, and the tobacco message is quite clear)

Let’s look closely at the food policy and cancer conundrum…WHY are we still subsidizing junk food?

Granted, efforts are being made to self-rein kids’ food marketing like Kelloggs’ nutritional standards, but causal links to cancer/obesity are only just now starting to yield headlines…And corn farmers are still subsidized to produce copious quantities of high fructose corn syrup.

Hmn. Lots of ‘disconnects’ there…Especially when HFCS is hidden in almost everything, including ‘healthier’ foods as the Fumin’ Fuji folks point out in this informative article.

Here’s more from Rebecca on the policy end of this cancer conundrum written as a guest editorial for Shaping Youth. (her blog, again, is Balanced Health and Nutrition see resources below)

Experts Agree: Corn Subsidies and Nutrition Policy Clash by Rebecca Scritchfield

The President’s Cancer Panel issues a report every year that focuses on one aspect of what is happening in the United States in terms of cancer. This year, they focused on lifestyle issues – obesity (nutrition and exercise) and smoking, which could eliminate 50% of all cancers.

Obesity has been linked to a variety of cancers, including colon, breast, kidney, ovarian and pancreatic cancer. “There are very definitive studies showing that moderate exercise reduces your risk of breast cancer and colon cancer,” Kripke said.

In addition, living a healthy lifestyle lowers a person’s risk of cancer recurrence and improves outcomes after cancer, Kripke said.

The causes of the obesity epidemic in the United States are complex, Kripke said. The epidemic started in the 1970s about the time that food makers started using high fructose corn syrup as an additive. In addition, portion sizes in restaurants increased as schools cut back on exercise programs.

The obesity problem has grown steadily over the past 30 years. “I don’t think there is going to be a quick fix,” she said.

One recommendation the panel made in the report is to have subsidies for corn farmers curtailed. “There doesn’t seem to be coordination between agricultural subsidies and public health policy for diet and nutrition,” Kripke said.

“Subsidies for corn make corn syrup very cheap and it’s not nutritionally what you want in all of your foods,” Kripke said. “It might make more sense to make agricultural subsidies for fruits and vegetables that would be more healthy for the population.”

The experts also called for a “culture of wellness” in the U.S. A wellness revolution? Bring it on!

—Rebecca Scritchfield

A few more food focused resources from Shaping Youth
(including a couple reader contributions, thanks! Keep ’em comin!)

Expatriate’s Kitchen: Childhood Nutrition Series

Balanced Health and Nutrition

Sustainable Table

The Mouth Revolution Blog

Fast Food Facts

The Fumin’ Fuji

Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity

Daily Healthbeat Tip (HHS)

U.S. Food Policy Blogspot

Junk Food Blog

Junk Food Science

Vegetarian Organic Life (& MSNBC meat coloring linked to cancer article)

Country Kitchen Pantry (countless vegetarian resources in the ‘blog carnival’)

Another angle: Here’s a US News & World Report “weight debate” article about whether we should even be TALKING at ALL to kids about childhood obesity, due to body image concerns!



  1. 8-24 update: RWJF just posted this today…though we already reported it as you can see above…Still, here’s the link if you’d like it?

  2. And here’s the full text for those that aren’t link fans:

    “The President’s Cancer Panel, a division of the National Cancer Institute, on Thursday issued a report declaring that obesity’s impact on America’s health rivals that of tobacco use in terms of morbidity and related health risks. The report cites research showing overall cancer death rates to be about 50 percent higher among obese men and more than 60 percent higher among obese women compared with their normal-weight counterparts, and calls on the federal government to adopt policies and programs that promote healthy lifestyle habits, Reuters reports. The report, published online, summarizes recent panel meetings that assessed efforts to reduce the national cancer burden by promoting healthier lifestyles and examined evidence linking diet, nutrition and physical activity, the risk of cancer due to tobacco use and second-hand smoke exposure. The report’s authors attribute obesity’s growing toll to several factors, including a lack of adequate sidewalks and safe recreational sites, limited access to fresh and healthy foods in underserved communities and worsening physical education in schools. The authors call for more effective oversight of food marketing and coordinated efforts to educate children and adults about healthy eating habits. It also suggests that physicians step up efforts to educate patients about weight management and employers work to remove barriers to healthy eating and increase staff members’ access to affordable, nutritious foods. The report identifies the federal farm bill as one opportunity to improve the quality of the nation’s food supply and the health of participants in national school lunch, food stamp and other federal nutrition programs. According to the report, there is a critical need for legislative, policy and environmental changes to support cancer risk-reducing lifestyle habits, and for collaboration among governments, private and public agencies, industries, educators and individuals to create communities that encourage good health (Fox, Reuters/Yahoo! News, 8/16/07; President’s Cancer Panel report, August 2007). “

  3. Another way to get cancer… STDs from sexual partners. Actually, the hookup culture can change teen and college girls’ lives in MANY BAD UNHEALTHY WAYS!!!

    (Look at how many BARRIERS persons put on in your local emergency room…versus a condom between two teens “hooking up”???)

    And what of the PSYCHOLOGICAL damage when someone feels USED in SEX without LOVE??? WOMEN are the MAIN ADULTS in POVERTY…there are so many areas of future damage to GIRLS in casual sex…

    What of the sad women I saw in infertility clinics? Some would be told “You had an STD way back when (maybe you thot it was just the flu)But the STD made you Sterile.

    Casual sex does MORE damage directly to girls NOW and LATER than to boys.

  4. Yep, reproductively speaking, indeed. Both genders can get STDs, obviously, but you make a good point re: cervical cancer risks/sterility & such, thus the new HPV vaccine timing is crucial and extremely worthy.

    I just attended the Preteen Health Alliance summit on this, and they reassured parents that the ‘early age’ of administering the vaccine is specifically due to the need for ZERO exposure in order for it to be effective. Pediatricians are NOT trying to ‘rush puberty’ or suggest/imply sex.

    Instead, doctors are taking a pragmatic medical approach via ‘better safe than sorry’ safeguards for the future health of our girls. Of course, you can’t ‘vaccinate’ against the EMOTIONAL damage of superficial sex; that in itself can grow like a cancer from within…

    Here’s more from Medical News Today:

    And from the CDC:

    As well as a helpful list of resources from Advocates for Youth:

  5. Two and the half years ago, I had breast cancer, so I’m very clear as to what it does to you. My 18 year old granddaughter smokes and has asthma you would think we could talk sense into far no…I’ll review some of your publications and maybe there is something we can show Mary that will make a difference. The STD’s I can’t even think about..I do but I don’t…Regards, Dorothy from grammology

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