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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 1 January 2020  

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  “I have cancer” — how to respond
  By Leslie Sheley

   According to the American Cancer Society, in 2019, there were an estimated 1,762,450 new cancer cases and 606,880 cancer deaths in the U.S. Last year in Colorado alone, there were 26,800 new cases and 8,120 deaths.
   
   A 2017 CBS news poll showed that 54 percent of Americans say they have personally been diagnosed with cancer or they know someone who has.
   
   Lisa Bade, communications director for the American Cancer Society, said, “When a friend or family member is facing a cancer diagnosis, the American Cancer Society can help patients and their caregivers with resources and information to help them during their cancer journey. The ACS is available anytime, 24/7 at cancer.org or 1-800-227-2345.”
   
   Although there is plenty of information out there for cancer survivors and their caregivers, friends and family members are often at a loss to know how to respond to someone who has cancer. When someone tells you he or she has cancer, what do you say? Or what don’t you say?
   
   The following are things you don’t say (from an article by cancercare.org).
   
   "Everything is going to be fine." The truth is, you don't know that everything is going to be fine, and this comment can sound dismissive.
   
   "I know what you're going through is difficult." On the surface, this sounds sympathetic, but don’t try to put yourself in the person's shoes, it diminishes what they are going through.
   
   "Well, at least you got a good kind of cancer." Is there really a "good" kind of cancer?
   
   "Maybe you should have exercised more/eaten more vegetables, etc." Comments like these and "How did you get it?" suspiciously sound like the person is to blame for the cancer diagnosis.
   
   Saying nothing: This can be the worst of all responses. If you're having trouble coping with a friend or family member's diagnosis, better to tell the person and talk about it. That way, they feel like you are there for them. For example, use these phrases:
   
   ”I’m not sure what to say right now, but I want you to know I love you." This acknowledges that you feel awkward, but it lets the person know in a simple way that you care.
   
   Here are a few things to say.
   
   "We're going to get through this together." This lets your friend or family member know you're not going anywhere, and they can be counted on through all the ups and downs.
   
   "Count on me for dinners/picking up the kids/taking you to the doctor.” Routine and daily tasks such as cooking meals, laundry and grocery shopping can be a lot to handle when someone is going through treatment. Instead of saying, "Let me know if you need anything," offer to do specific chores to help out.
   
   “I would offer to do specific things for them like mowing, cleaning the house, babysitting the kids; things that take the load off and reduce stress,” said Ann McKeever, certified holistic cancer coach and medical massage practitioner — and a cancer survivor. “Meals are tricky because they might not feel well or they might be on a strict diet.”
   
   Ann Lindahl, a breast cancer survivor, said, “I always appreciated the generosity I received when sick, but most cancer patients would prefer no sugar or candy items. It usually doesn’t set well and it’s bad for the immune system while trying to recover.”
   
   Suggestions from other cancer fighters and survivors:
   
   “If the cancer patient has children, please don’t send your children over to play with them,” said Mindy Williams, ovarian cancer fighter.“The parent is exhausted from chemo and other treatments and doesn’t need to be babysitting. If someone wants to visit, make sure he or she is healthy.
   
   Williams recalled a woman sitting nearby while she was receiving a transfusion treatment. She said there were several patients and companions in the immediate area, and one of them was coughing — obviously ill. Williams offered to get her a mask, and the person replied, “Well how am I going to keep drinking my coffee with a mask on.” Remember that people with cancer have compromised immune systems.
   
   Prayers are good, said Sharon Radspinner, breast cancer survivor. “For the cancer fighters themselves, surround yourself with positive family and friends.”
   
   Offering ideas for alternative treatments is not a good idea.
   
   “I don’t enjoy when people offer alternative treatments when I tell them I’m getting chemo/radiation for my cancer,” said Amy Fink, who has stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma. “I hate when people tell me I should do natural remedies instead of what my doctor recommends.”
   
   Eileen Fink, mother and caretaker of Amy, said, “Don’t forget about your friend who is taking care of a loved one with cancer. I would rather have someone say the wrong thing than nothing.”
   
   “I am a two-year cancer survivor,” said Leslie Sheley (author of this article).
   
   “Above all, be supportive, no horror stories; keep it positive and be there for them.”
  
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  Ultraprocessed foods do lead to weight gain
  (Live Science May 17, 2019)
  By Rachael Rettner

   Filling your plate with ultraprocessed foods really does appear to lead people to eat more and gain weight, according to a new study.
   
   Ultraprocessed foods refers to products that tend to go through a number of manufacturing steps to be produced, and contain ingredients that result from industrial-food manufacturing, such as hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, flavoring agents and emulsifiers, according to the study.
   
   For example, an ultraprocessed breakfast meal could consist of a bagel with cream cheese and turkey bacon, while an unprocessed breakfast could contain oatmeal with bananas, walnuts and skim milk.
   
   The study, published May 16 in the journal Cell Metabolism, involved 20 healthy volunteers who spent about a month in a laboratory at the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, where all of their meals were prepared for them. Participants were randomly assigned to a diet of either ultraprocessed or minimally processed foods for two weeks, after which they were switched to the opposite diet for another two weeks. Importantly, meals for both groups had about the same amount of calories, sugars, fiber, fat and carbohydrates; participants could eat as much as they wanted.
   
   The researchers found that when people were given the ultraprocessed diet, they ate about 500 calories more per day than they did when they were on the unprocessed diet. What's more, participants gained about two pounds while they were on the ultraprocessed diet; they lost about two pounds while on the unprocessed diet.
   
   Previous studies that involved large groups of people have linked diets high in ultraprocessed foods with health problems, and even a higher risk of early death. But these studies observed people over time, rather than assigning them specific diets; they could not prove that ultraprocessed foods actually cause people to eat more or gain weight. For example, it might be the case that people who eat ultraprocessed foods develop health problems for other reasons, such as a lack of access to fresh foods.
   
   Although the new study was small, "results from this tightly controlled experiment showed a clear and consistent difference between the two diets," study lead author Kevin Hall, a senior investigator at NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, said in a statement. "This is the first study to demonstrate causality — that ultraprocessed foods cause people to eat too many calories and gain weight."
   
   "Limiting consumption of ultraprocessed food may be an effective strategy for obesity prevention and treatment," the researchers concluded.
   
   The study was not designed to determine why people ate more and gained more weight while on the ultraprocessed diet, so future research should investigate this, the authors said.
   
   Still, the study did find that people tended to eat their meals faster when they were on the ultraprocessed diet, compared with the unprocessed diet. Some previous studies have suggested that faster-eating rates can result in increased overall food intake, the researchers said. The researchers noted that ultraprocessed foods tend to be softer and easier to swallow, which may have led to the faster-eating rate and delayed feelings of fullness, which could have contributed to increased food intake.
   
   "We need to figure out what specific aspect of the ultraprocessed foods affected people's eating behavior and led them to gain weight," Hall said.
   
   Future studies could try using different formulations of ultraprocessed foods to see what effect this has on people's overall consumption and weight gain.
   
   The researchers noted that ultraprocessed foods can be difficult to cut back on, given their convenience and low cost. "We have to be mindful that it takes more time and more money to prepare less-processed foods," Hall said. "Just telling people to eat healthier may not be effective for some people without improved access to healthy foods."
  
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