March 31, 2011

Cancer Fears... Misdirected

All this talk (and worry) about the proposed meltdown of Japan's nuclear reactor has really got me thinking about how we, as North Americans, have the ability to compartmentalize the fear of cancer.

I, like many others, kinda freaked out (I'm not going to lie to you) when I heard about the possibility all that radiation could reach us. Even one "subject matter expert" on CTV news made a comment that he would not want to be on Vancouver Island when all nuclear hell broke loose. What was I supposed to think? Thank God the health agencies around the world have stepped in to calm us down....but all this fear of radiation really made me wonder.

Why do we fear radiation and it's affects while we gobble down Bic Mac's and chase it with a sugar-free Coke? We donate our money to support a run,walk, cycle, and rollerblade "for the cure" while we maintain our sedentary lifestyle while living a hectic life. Do we not believe that lifestyle plays an important role in our "fight against cancer"?

In other words...prevention
is probably our best "fight"
against cancer!
Case in point....a work colleague was in the lunch room with me warming up his "Lean Cuisine".  On the package, he pointed out, it had been stamped with the very popular pink ribbon touting the fact that you are supporting the breast cancer foundation when purchasing this product. Funny.....with all the chemicals in that lunch can we be sure that eating this product isn't linked to breast cancer?????  Um....nope!

I realize the psychology behind lifestyle choice and understand that, unless the danger is in our face, we tend not to think about it.  We don't see the potential for cancer when we choose a sugar-free (aspertame loaded) soda or put off a daily walk or carry enough stress to choke a donkey. There is a psychological theory, The Health Belief Model, that comes to mind that may help to explain this. The model suggests that a person will make a change only when they believe that it will do them good. Conversley, only when one fears the worst (i.e has their first heart attack or is told they are a ticking time bomb ready to blow) do they consider change. I've witnessed this first hand and, although it is great that they may be ready, it is sad and confusing to me why they wait until the worst possible moment.

Anyway, those have been my thoughts over the last few days. The industry of "cancer fighting" is an interesting one. There is a great book on the subject if you are ready to take a critical look at the subject. "The Secret History of the War on Cancer" (written by Devra Davis) is an amazing look at the topic. I highly recommend it.

The day they have a health promoting "run for health" or "walk for wellness" where they offer education and strategies to assist people with food choices and physical activity adoption, I will be there with bells on. Hell, I'll direct it and channel all my charitable funding to that cause! 

Meanwhile, my money goes to the United Way!

Have a great weekend. K

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