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Reduce cancer risk and focus on wellness during COVID-19 with the new, updated American Cancer Society diet and physical activity guidelines



The American Cancer Society has updated its guideline for diet and physical activity for cancer prevention, with adjustments to reflect the most current evidence. The updated recommendations increase recommended levels of physical activity and have an increased emphasis on reducing the consumption of processed and red meat, sugar-sweetened beverages, processed foods, and alcohol. They also include evidenced-based strategies to reduce barriers to healthy eating and active living and to reduce alcohol consumption.

Published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, the ACS’s flagship medical journal, “The guideline continues to reflect the current science that dietary patterns, not specific foods, are important to reduce the risk of cancer and improve overall health,” said Laura Makaroff, DO, American Cancer Society senior vice president, Prevention and Early Detection.  Here is a summary:

Physical Activity for Adults
Previous:  At least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week.

New:  150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75-150 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week; achieving or exceeding upper limit of 300 minutes is optimal.

Previous:  Consume a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant foods.

  • Choose foods and beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Limit consumption of processed meat and red meat.
  • Eat at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
  • Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products.

New:  Follow a healthy eating pattern at all ages, including:

  • Foods high in nutrients in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
  • Variety of vegetables—dark green, red, and orange, fiber-rich legumes (beans, peas), and others
  • Fruits, especially whole fruits with a variety of colors
  • Whole grains.

Limit or do not include:

  • Red and processed meats
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Highly processed foods and refined grain products.

Previous: Limit consumption. Drink no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men.

New:  It is best not to drink alcohol. People who choose to drink alcohol should limit their consumption to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.

Recommendation for Community Action
Previous:  Public, private, and community organizations should work collaboratively at national, state, and local levels to implement policy and environmental changes that:

  • Increase access to affordable, healthy foods in communities, worksites, and schools, and decrease access to and marketing of foods and beverages of low nutritional value, particularly to youth.
  • Provide safe, enjoyable, and accessible environments for physical activity in schools and worksites, and for transportation and recreation in communities.

New:  Public, private, and community organizations should work collaboratively at national, state, and local levels to develop, advocate for, and implement policy and environmental changes that increase access to affordable, nutritious foods; provide safe, enjoyable, and accessible opportunities for physical activity; and limit alcohol for all individuals.

“People eat whole foods –not nutrients—and  evidence continues to suggest that it is healthy dietary patterns that are associated with reduced risk for cancer, especially colorectal and breast cancer,” says Dr. Makaroff.

The full guideline:

Article: American Cancer Society Guideline for Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention; CA Cancer J Clin 2020 DOI 10.3322/caac.21591

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Understanding zoonotic diseases



As the world grapples with the spread of COVID-19, a zoonotic virus, it’s worth taking a look at how interactions between humans and animals can affect public health.

What are zoonotic diseases?
Zoonotic diseases, also known as zoonoses, are illnesses caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi that can be transmitted between animals and humans. In addition to coronaviruses, the most well-known zoonotic diseases include:

• Rabies

• Lyme disease
• West Nile virus
• Escherichia coli (E. coli)

How are they transmitted?
Humans interact with animals every day, and the spread of harmful germs between them can occur in a variety of ways. These include:

• Coming in direct contact with an infected animal’s saliva, blood, feces, or urine
• Being stung, scratched, or bitten by an infected animal or insect
• Coming in contact with a contaminated surface and then touching your mouth
• Consuming food or water contaminated with an infected animal’s feces

If you have a pet, make sure your animal is dewormed and up to date on their vaccinations. Additionally, you should regularly check your pet for ticks and wash your hands after handling their feces or cleaning their litter box.

For more information about how to protect yourself and your pet from zoonotic diseases, speak with your veterinarian.

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Components of an anti-inflammatory diet



If you have arthritis, you likely suffer from chronic inflammation. While genetics and stress both play a role in the disorder, your diet can also affect your symptoms. In fact, eating certain foods may help reduce inflammation throughout your body. The key components of an anti-inflammatory diet are:

  • Antioxidants (fruits, vegetables)
  • Plant proteins (nuts, seeds, beans)
  • Good fats (olive oil, oily fish)
  • Fiber (whole grains)

Additionally, you should limit your consumption of animal protein and salt, and avoid processed food, refined sugar, and saturated fat altogether as these have been shown to worsen inflammation.

In general, if you follow the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, you should see improvements. For more personalized tips to help manage chronic inflammation, speak with your doctor, pharmacist, or nutritionist.

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COVID-19 vaccine could save many lives, despite rampant myths



Most people know by now that Bill Gates is not going to give you money or a free computer if you respond to a Facebook post.

He’s also not going to give you a secret microchip in a COVID-19 vaccine. This is one of the many myths madly circulating about a COVID-19 vaccine that have prompted about a quarter of Americans to say that they would decline a vaccine when it becomes available.

The Gates myth started in March 2020, when a widely shared article announced, incorrectly, “Bill Gates will use microchip implants to fight coronavirus.” Gates actually said in an interview that digital certificates could be used to show who has recovered, who has been tested, and who received the vaccine. According to the BBC, one study, funded by The Gates Foundation, suggested that a special invisible tattoo mark could be used to show who has been vaccinated. Like a smallpox vaccination scar, it would not be tracked and personal information would not be entered into a database.

Even so, Microsoft billionaire does not control public health policy in the U.S.

Another myth in high circulation is that a DNA-based vaccine will genetically modify humans.

According to Mark Lynas, a visiting fellow at Cornell University’s Alliance for Science group, no vaccine can genetically modify human DNA.

In an interview with Reuters, Lynas said that the DNA in DNA vaccines does not integrate into the cell nucleus, so there is no genetic modification. When cells divide, they will only include your natural DNA. But DNA-based vaccines are promising for COVID-19 because DNA sequences could match the required bits of genetic code in the virus.

The number of Americans willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 may be as low as 50 percent, according to Science Magazine, the official publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Another poll, released in July, suggested that only about a third of Americans say they would be “very likely” to get a vaccine to prevent COVID-19, according to USA Today.

Experts say that the threshold for population immunity against COVID-19 may require between 50 and 82 percent of the population to receive a vaccine, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A COVID-19 vaccine may be months or years away from availability to the public as researchers race to develop and test viable options. While the public waits for breakthroughs, communications experts advocate that public health officials should start educating the public now to combat misinformation campaigns and promote vaccine acceptance, according to Science Magazine.

Peter Pitts, who oversaw public outreach efforts for the Food and Drug Administration during the George W. Bush administration, expressed his concern that no organized government strategy appears to exist to educate the public about the importance of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to USA Today.

According to Science Magazine, medical misinformation regarding COVID-19 and vaccines has proliferated on social media since the start of the pandemic. Damon Centola, a sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania, told the publication that social media posts can mislead people into believing that doing nothing to protect themselves against the novel coronavirus is a safer course of action.

Vaccine skepticism has grown increasingly widespread. In a 2020 study, researchers found that some people may believe vaccines are risky because they overestimate the likelihood of rare adverse side effects, according to Science Daily.

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Fat facts: are you eating the right type?



Fats play an essential role in the body, helping with vitamin absorption, providing energy and insulating organs. While they’re an important part of a balanced diet, some fats are unhealthy. This is why, according to the American Heart Association, you should pay close attention to the type of fat you eat.

The good
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats help regulate cholesterol levels and prevent cardiovascular disease. Sources of these good fats include:

· Cold-water fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and trout

· Olive, canola, and peanut oil
· Nuts such as almonds, cashews, and pecans
· Avocados
· Seeds such as flax, pumpkin, and sunflower
· Omega-3 eggs

If you eat margarine, be sure to opt for the non-hydrogenated variety. Made from vegetable oils, this cholesterol-free margarine is a good source of omega-6 and other unsaturated fats.

The bad
Saturated fats raise levels of bad cholesterol, which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. Foods that are high in saturated fats include:

· Fatty meats
· Butter
· Whole dairy products
· Lard
· Palm and coconut oil

Additionally, highly processed foods are a major source of saturated fats for many Americans. This includes cookies, French fries and chips, which also tend to contain a lot of salt and sugar.

While it’s important to eat the right types of fat, you should also balance your diet with sufficient fruits, vegetables, whole grains and proteins. For specific dietary advice, consult a doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian.

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3 exercises to improve your balance



Falls are common among older adults and often result in serious injuries. Luckily, taking steps to improve your balance can reduce your risk of falling. Here are three basic exercises to get you started.

1. Stand on one leg
While holding on to a countertop or the back of a stable chair, slowly bend your knee and lift one foot off the ground. Start by trying to maintain the position for 30 seconds or as long as possible. Alternate feet and repeat the movement until you’ve done it three times on each side.

2. Stand on tiptoes

While maintaining your grip on a solid surface, slowly lift your heels off the floor without bending your knees. Briefly hold the position and then slowly lower your heels back down. Start with two series of 10 repetitions and gradually increase the quantity.

3. High knees
Slowly walk in place, lifting your knees to the height of your waist with each step. For extra security, complete this exercise near a table or countertop so you can catch yourself if you lose your balance.

For additional exercises and a more personalized workout plan to help you improve your balance, speak with a kinesiologist or other health-care professional.

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Understanding aphasia



Aphasia is a disorder that affects verbal and written communication skills such as the ability to read, write, speak, listen, and understand speech. This impairment is caused by damage to one or more areas of the brain that control language, usually due to a stroke, brain tumor, dementia, or other neurological disorder. Aphasia can also be triggered by a head injury or infection.

While older adults are more susceptible, aphasia can affect people of all ages. Symptoms depend on the location and severity of the brain damage. Common variations of the disorder include:

  • Global aphasia. This is the most severe type of aphasia, characterized by little or no ability to speak and understand spoken language. A person with global aphasia will also be unable to read and write.
  • Wernicke’s aphasia. Also known as fluent aphasia, this type is characterized by long or disconnected sentences that include incorrect or nonsense words. A person with this form of the disorder will also struggle to comprehend speech.
  • Broca’s aphasia. Also known as non-fluent aphasia, this variation of the disorder is characterized by limited vocabulary, short statements, and laborious speech. However, a person with Broca’s aphasia will often retain the ability to understand spoken language.

Speech-language therapy is often recommended for treating aphasia. Depending on the location and severity of the brain damage, patients may recover some or all of their communication skills over time. For more information about this disorder, visit the National Aphasia Association website at

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