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Cancer Links With Diet And Lifestyle

Cancer Links With Diet And Lifestyle

There’s a price to be paid for cheap food – and it could be people’s health.

International Public Health specialist Dr John Coveney, Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health, Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, will present the latest findings on the importance of fruit and vegetables in the diet at a series of meetings of health professionals around the country at the end of June.

The roadshow has been organised by the Cancer Society in association with United Fresh 5+ A Day, to examine the most recent findings in the links between what we eat, how we behave and cancer. Diet and physical activity are second only to tobacco as a preventable cause of cancer.

The New Zealand Cancer Control Strategy identifies raising awareness of the link between cancer and nutrition as one of its objectives under primary prevention, says Cancer Society spokesperson Janice Burton.

“There has been much debate in recent times about the strength of evidence for links between nutrition, and the prevention of cancer. The ‘Nutrition, Lifestyle and the Cancer Connection’ roadshow has been organised to clarify what the strength of evidence is; to share current research on barriers to eating healthily, including fruit and vegetable consumption; and to look at the role of nutrition for cancer prevention,” Ms Burton says.

“There is convincing evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing some of the most common cancers such as colon cancer and post-menopausal breast cancer while being regularly physically active reduces the risk.”

Dr Coveney’s presentation, The Price Paid for Cheap Food, will be based on the research undertaken in France and the United States by Adam Drewnowski who has examined the relationship between cheap food, energy-dense diets, and overweight and obesity.

Working on the premise that the driving influences of choice, especially for low income groups are cost, convenience and palatability, Drewnowski’s work gives a better understanding of the distribution of diet-related diseases across social class. His work also highlights the importance of nutrition interventions that aim to increase nutrient-dense foods.

“Promotion of foods like fruit and vegetables are crucial not only to increase nutrient intake and diet quality, but also to reduce energy content of the diet,” Ms Burton says. “We’d also like to dispel the misconception that fruit and vegetables are expensive.”

A second international speaker, Ms Kathy Chapman, Nutrition Programme Manager, Cancer Council, New South Wales, Australia will present evidence to support the link between nutrition, physical activity and cancer. The factors she will cover include body weight, food and nutrition, alcohol and physical activity.

“Over recent weeks there has been considerable discussion about New Zealanders’ physical state. We’re told 54 percent of us are overweight or obese. Clearly we’re eating, but we’re eating the wrong things. We need to find out why and how to change that,” Ms Burton says.

In addition to the international speakers local speakers will present paper of relevant issues (eds: see list of regional speakers attached)

The Cancer Society, as a leader in the promotion of the importance of nutrition and physical activity’s role in good health, is keen to work with other organisations who have similar objectives in order to influence funding and planning priorities.

“We hope this roadshow will get people thinking, talking and acting,” Ms Burton says.


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