Fight Four Major Diseases in 4 Simple Steps

Health Groups Join Forces to Prevent Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Stroke Leading a healthy lifestyle and preventing disease shouldn’t be confusing or difficult. In fact, you can dramatically reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke by following just four simple steps: • Eat a healthy diet to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight. • Be physically active. • Don’t smoke and avoid being around others who do. • See a physician to assess your personal health risks.That’s the message of a new joint effort from three major health organizations designed to help Americans protect themselves from unhealthy habits and the four chronic diseases that cause two out of every three deaths in the U.S. The “Everyday Choices For a Healthier Life” campaign marks the first time the American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association, and American Heart Association have joined forces to promote unified health recommendations for the public and screening advice for doctors. The organizations have not changed their individual diet or lifestyle recommendations, but they have launched the campaign to let the public know that they agree on a basic set of recommendations for reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke. Researchers say two-thirds of the nearly 1.5 million deaths in the U.S. caused by these four diseases each year could be prevented by adopting these recommendations. “Short of finding a cure for these diseases, helping millions to prevent disease onset is one of the greatest public health interventions that we can make,” says Eugene Barrett, MD, PhD, president of the American Diabetes Association, who discussed the new public health campaign at a news conference today in New York City. Simplifying Disease Prevention Experts say it’s easy for the public to be confused about how to make healthy choices due to constantly evolving and sometimes conflicting medical research. However, overwhelming scientific evidence shows that poor diet, excess weight, smoking, and physical inactivity are all common risk factors for cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. For example, about one-third of cancer deaths each year are due to poor nutrition and physical inactivity. Obesity and lack of exercise also contribute to high blood pressure and high cholesterol, which raises the risk of heart attack and stroke. In addition, nearly 9 in 10 lung cancer deaths are directly attributable to tobacco use. “It sounds really obvious. You’ve heard it all your lives, probably from your parents: Eat right, get exercise, don’t smoke, and go to see your doctor,” says Ralph B. Vance, MD, president of the American Cancer Society. “They are just commonsense choices that people know they should make, but they fail to make because they are too busy, too tired, too hooked on tobacco, and life is just too hectic to stop and make a change,” says Vance. “Our goal is to help people understand that these choices do far more than make them look better or feel better. These everyday choices can save their lives and the lives of people that they love.” To help drive home that message, the joint effort includes a three-year public service advertising campaign, sponsored by the Ad Council, with TV, print, radio, and online ads. Unified Screening Guidelines The campaign also will also target health-care providers with simplified screening guidelines recommended by all three health organizations to help doctors and their patients identify and control risk factors and detect disease early. Those guidelines include: For men & women: • Blood pressure measurement: Starting at age 20, at least every two years • Body mass index (BMI) measurement: Starting at age 20, at each regular health-care visit • Blood cholesterol test: Starting at age 20, at least every five years • Blood glucose (sugar) test: Starting at age 45, every three years • Colorectal screening: Starting at age 50, every 1-10 years depending on the test the doctor usesFor women only: • Clinical breast exam (CBE): Starting at age 20, every three years; yearly after age 40 • Mammography: Starting at age 40, yearly • Pap test: Starting at age 20, yearly. After age 30, every one to three years, depending on the test your doctor uses and past resultsFor men only: • Prostate specific antigen test and digital rectal exam: Starting at age 50, ask your doctor about the pros and cons of testingThe joint report will appear in the professional journals published by each of the organizations, including Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association, Diabetes Care, and the American Cancer Society’s CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. For more information on making everyday choices for a healthy lifestyle or on specific diseases, go to www.everydaychoices.org or call the toll-free information line ((866) 399-6789) to request a free brochure. “Your health starts with you. We can help you make healthy living a priority for you and your family,” says Augustus O. Grant, MD, PhD, president of the American Heart Association. “Our common prescription is basic: Eat right, don’t smoke, get active, and see your doctor.” SOURCES: American Heart Association. American Diabetes Association. American Cancer Society. The AdCouncil. Augustus O. Grant, MD, PhD, president, American Heart Association. Eugene Barrett, MD, PhD, president, American Diabetes Association. Ralph B. Vance, MD, president, American Cancer Society. By Jennifer Warner Reviewed By Brunilda Nazario, MD WebMD Medical News