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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

The opinions and thoughts expressed here those of the authors and do not necessarily correlate with those of the National Wellness Institute. Read more.


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Alcohol is Officially a Cancer Risk

Posted By NWI, Wednesday, January 3, 2018

For the first time, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) is recognizing that alcohol consumption is linked to an increase in cancer risk.  According to the ASCO, “even modest use of alcohol may increase cancer risk, but the greatest risks are observed with heavy, long-term use”.

Authors of the study agree that defining the amount of liquor that would constitute “risky” drinking is difficult based off the varying amounts of ethanol in each type of alcohol in addition to the amount consumed by individuals. The daily recommended allowance of alcohol from The American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and US Department of Health and Human Services is still set at one to two standard drinks per day for men and one standard drink per day for women.

There is likely to be some confusion surrounding these findings due to conflicting research which indicates that in moderation, alcohol can have some health benefits. Despite efforts from both sides, this will likely be a big barrier when trying to offer education on this topic. In areas where alcohol consumption is quite high, offering education may fall on deaf ears.

Ultimately, the ASCO isn’t encouraging people not to drink, they are informing everyone that if they want to decrease their risk of cancer, they should limit their alcohol consumption.  Specifically, the cancers that alcohol is causally linked to are oropharyngeal and laryngeal cancer, esophageal cancer, hepatocellular carcinoma, breast cancer, and colon cancer. 

The bottom line is, if you want to reduce your risk for developing some types of cancer, limit your alcohol intake. As with most health-related items, use your discretion to consume alcohol in moderation. 

Tags:  alcohol  cancer  health 

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Breast Cancer Rates Rise Among African American Women

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, November 3, 2015

For the first time, breast cancer rates among black women have reached the same level as among white women.

Black women historically have had a lower rate of breast cancer than the rate among white women. This new benchmark is especially troublesome because black women have had a higher mortality rate from breast cancer than women of other races. The higher mortality rate can be attributed to a variety of factors, including accessibility of care, cultural distrust of doctors, or lack of insurance coverage.

Black women are also more susceptible to a form of breast cancer called “Triple Negative Breast cancer.” This type of cancer is more deadly in part because there is no specific treatment for it. Triple Negative Breast Cancer shows up in 22 percent of black breast cancer patients, while it only appears in 11 percent of white breast cancer patients.

These facts about the rising rate of breast cancer among black women should be cause for alarm, with the intent of calling for more education among black communities for women to receive regular breast cancer screenings, and a call for the medical community to focus on Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

To read the full study, released by the American Cancer Society, click here.

Tags:  Breast Cancer  Cancer  Diversity  Health  Health Care 

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Processed Meats Pose a Risk (But Not as Much as You Might Think)

Posted By NWI, Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Many people found it disturbing when the World Health Organization released a report stating that processed meats likely increase the probability of developing colorectal cancer, listing them alongside smoking and asbestos in their list of cancer-causing agents.The report also hinted strongly that red meat would have similar results.

For many people, processed meats, which include bacon, sausage, and many deli meats, are a staple of their diets. Faced with the choice of having to make a major shift in their diet and even their lifestyle, versus potentially contracting a horrible disease is a daunting prospect. The question remains, however, of what the WHO considers a cancer-causing agent, and how much greater your risk of developing cancer is if you continue to consume processed meats.

The report states that the risk of developing cancer is 18% greater if you consume processed meats. Many people read that as “You have an 18% chance (over whatever the percentage is already) of developing cancer.” This is not accurate. What it really means is “Your chance is 18% of the previous percentage greater.”

In the case of colorectal cancer, everyone has a 5% chance. Therefore, by consuming processed meat, the calculation of the risk percentage looks like this:

5 + (5 x 0.18)= 5.9

Essentially, your chance of developing cancer because you eat processed meat increases by 1%. Whether that is an acceptable risk for eating bacon is obviously up to each individual consumer, but the 1% statistic seems far more reasonable than the 18% statistic that was being thrown around when the report was initially released.

Tags:  Cancer  Diet  Health  Meat  Nutrition  Wellness 

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The Secret to Preventing Cancer: Eating Your Vegetables!

Posted By NWI, Saturday, September 5, 2015

Penn State University’s Department of Food Science has found that plant material contains active compounds that actively deter cancer and other diseases.

However, there is a rather large caveat to these findings. Vegetables which are consumed after their peak nutritional development have been found to have less of these anti-disease agents, and some – particularly those in the nightshade family, such as potatoes, eggplants, and peppers – have been found to increase levels of potentially toxic compounds.

The take-away result of these findings is simple, according to Penn State researcher Jairam Vanamala. He recommends buying vegetables locally and in season. By buying vegetables that were grown locally at the peak of ripeness, you have some assurance that the vegetables were ripened on the plant rather than picked before prime nutritional value and shipped long distances.

By educating ourselves about which fruits and vegetables are in season at any given time, we’re not only giving ourselves an immediate benefit in the nutrients our bodies will use right away, but are also banking a long-term benefit in the form of staving off cancer and other diseases.

To read a related article to this study, click here.

Tags:  Cancer  Nutrition  Physical 

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Tips to Prevent Cancer

Posted By NWI, Saturday, February 1, 2014
Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014

In honor of February as National Cancer Prevention Month (sponsored by the American Institute for Cancer Research www.aicr.org and the American Cancer Society www.cancer.org), here are ten recommendations to help prevent cancer from the American Institute for Cancer Research: 

  1. Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
  2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
  3. Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods.
  4. Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.
  5. Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
  6. If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to two for men and one for women a day.
  7. Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
  8. Don't use supplements to protect against cancer.
  9. It is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to six months and then add other liquids and foods.
  10. After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.

Tags:  Cancer  February 2014  Intellectual  Physical  Prevention 

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Fun Facts

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Friday, February 1, 2013

February is National Cancer Prevention Month, and this month’s Fun Facts will be devoted to how healthy eating and behaviors can prevent cancer. For more information on National Cancer Prevention Month, please visit American Institute for Cancer Research.


· Coffee has many antioxidant properties that help in preventing cancer. While past research believed coffee was poor for health, more recent studies provide evidence that coffee is linked to lower risks of mortality.

· Flaxseed can be a simple addition to a meal with many health benefits and can also be bought in a variety of forms: whole, ground, flour, meal, and oil. It contains high fiber content that helps the body feel satiated and can prevent cancers by aiding in weight control (as excess body fat is the cause for several cancers). Incorporating flaxseed into meals can be made simple by sprinkling it onto yogurt, smoothies, or as a topping on meals.

· Phytochemicals found in apples have shown to slow the progression of colon, lung, and breast cancers. Apples can also aid in maintaining weight as they contain fiber to help the body feel full.

· Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, and other green leafy vegetables) contain compounds that decrease inflammation which is often a cancer risk factor. They also contain vitamins that help protect the immune system as well as many other benefits for health.


· Maintaining a healthy weight is important since increased body fat is related to increased risks for cancer. Being at a healthy weight will help prevent diseases and also boost self-esteem.

· Exercising regularly is important to maintain weight and meet the recommended 50 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week. Because time barriers are common, individuals should look for enjoyable exercise activities to help sustain an exercise schedule.

· Quitting tobacco may be difficult, but will greatly benefit the mind and body. Those who quit can see a decrease in cancer risk a few years after quitting, can see heart rate and blood pressure levels return to normal, and can see declining levels of carbon monoxide in the blood, as well as other improvements.

· Protect the body with sunscreen, hats, and long-sleeve shirts when in the sun. Staying out of direct sunlight between peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. is important to help prevent skin cancer and reduce skin damage.


American Institute for Cancer Research. (December 11, 2012). Apples. AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer. Retrieved on January 15, 2013, from http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight- cancer/apples.html#research

American Institute for Cancer Research. (December 11, 2012). Coffee. AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer. Retrieved on January 15, 2013, from http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/coffee.html

American Institute for Cancer Research. (December 11, 2012). Cruciferous Vegetables. Retrieved on January 15, 2013, from http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/broccoli- cruciferous.html#research

American Institute for Cancer Research. (December 11, 2012). Flaxseed. AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer. Retrieved on January 15, 2013, from http://www.aicr.org/foods-that-fight-cancer/flaxseed.html

Siteman Cancer Center. 8 Ways to Stay Healthy and Prevent Cancer. Retrieved on January 16, 2013, from http://www.siteman.wustl.edu/contentpage.aspx?id=4514

Tags:  Cancer  February 2013  Fun Facts  Nutrition  Physical 

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Does Cancer Treatment Start with Food? (June 2012)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Friday, June 1, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Researchers from the journal Hormones and Cancer discovered how the antioxidantapigenin, which is found in celery, parsley, and other foods, inhibits the progression of a human breast cancer implanted in mice.

In the study, a fast growing breast cancer was implanted in the mice. One group was treated with progestin, which is a chemical that post menopausal women are given to lessen the symptoms of menopause. The other group of mice was not given the treatment to compare how synthetic progestin relates to cancer growth. A group of mice from the progestin treated group were then given apigenin and the progression of the fast-growing tumors ceased and eventually shrank. The rest of the treated mice that did not receive apigenin had fast-growing cancerous tumors that were fueled by progestin.

Cancer patients are often treated with chemotherapy, which can cause intense negative side effects. Apigenin has no side effects and has been shown to cause the death of cancer cells, decrease cell reproduction, and diminish cancer growth. Since there are many benefits of apigenin, perhaps harsh chemotherapy could be replaced with apigenin treatments in our near future.

Visit Apigenin: A Promising Molecule for Cancer Prevention for more information on the antioxidant's health benefits.

Reference: Mafuvadze, B., Liang Y., Besch-Williford, C., Zhang X., and Hyder, S. Apigenin induces apoptosis and blocks growth of medroxyprogesterone acetate-dependent BT-474 xenograft tumors. Hormones and Cancer, 2012; DOI: 10.1007/s12672-012-0114-x

Kelli Oligney, NWI Associate Editor

Tags:  Cancer  Disease  June 2012  Nutrition  Physical 

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Exercise and Caffeine (May 2012)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) has released current research on exercise and caffeine and their paired ability to decrease the riskof sunlight-caused skin cancer. The combination of caffeine and exercise wasshown to decrease inflammation and skin tumor amount, and to prevent the inflammation that occurs in cancers associated with obesity.

In the study, researchers used mice with a high chance of developing skincancer and had the first group receive a dose of caffeine and then exercise on arunning wheel. This group showed 62% less skin tumors and an 85% decrease in thesize of tumors than the control group that received neither caffeine nor exercise. The second group received a dose of caffeine without exercise and was shown to have 27% less skin tumors and a 61% decrease in tumor size. The third group received only exercise with a 35% decrease in amount of tumors and a 70% decline in size.

Another important observable feature of the study was that weight and inflammation also decreased in the mice when using the combination of caffeine and exercise. Researchers fed the mice a high fat diet and measured the largest fat pad in their body after they exercised or received caffeine for two weeks. Their fat pad's weight decreased by 63% after two weeks of caffeine and exercise, lowered by 30% in caffeine only, and was 56% less in just exercise.

Positive outcomes were observed within all groups in the study, but the most beneficial was the combination of caffeine and exercise. It is important to notethat cancers associated with obesity may also be prevented by using these methods. Even with these benefits, it is still important to use sunscreen as a preventative measure against skin cancer and when consuming caffeine, do so in moderate amounts.

Visit International Coffee Organization for more information regarding what a moderate amount of caffeine is and the amount that is contained in beverages, foods, and more.

Reference: American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). (2012, April 3). "Caffeine and exercise may be protective against skin cancer caused by sun exposure." Retrieved April 5, 2012, from http://www.aacr.org/home/public--media/aacr-in-the-news.aspx?d=2757.

Tags:  Caffeine  Cancer  Exercise  May 2012  Physical 

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Quotes (April 2011)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Friday, April 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, December 27, 2012

This month's quotes are dedicated to teachers. The following quotes are from Randy Pausch, a computer science professor, gave his "Last Lecture" after discovering he had pancreatic cancer. Randy was a professor of Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction, and Design at Carnegie Mellon University. He lost his battle with pancreatic cancer on July 25th, 2008, but left a legacy for his students and family. For more information on The Last Lecture, the book or the video, click: here.

Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.

The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.

It's not about how to achieve your dreams, it's about how to lead your life, ... If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you.

The key question to keep asking is, Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.

Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.

If I only had three words of advice, they would be, Tell the Truth. If got three more words, I'd add, all the time.

Wait long enough and people will surprise and impress. When you're pissed off at someone and you're angry at them, you just haven't given them enough time. Just give them a little more time and they almost always will impress you.

Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.

A lot of people want a shortcut. I find the best shortcut is the long way, which is basically two words: work hard.

The questions are always more important than the answers.

It's not how hard you hit. It's how hard you get hit...and keep moving forward.

When we're connected to others, we become better people.

Too many people go through life complaining about their problems. I've always believed that if you took one tenth the energy you put into complaining and applied it to solving the problem, you'd be surprised by how well things can work out.

When there's an elephant in the room introduce him.

Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcome.

Don't complain; just work harder.

You can always change you plan, but only if you have one.

One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose.

When you see yourself doing something badly and nobody's bothering to tell you anymore, that's a bad place to be. You may not want to hear it, but your critics are often the ones telling you they still love you and care about you, and want to make you better,

People are more important than things.

Give yourself permission to dream. Fuel your kids' dreams too. Once in a while, that might even mean letting them stay up past their bedtimes.

Are you a Tigger or an Eyore?

A good apology is like antibiotic, a bad apology is like rubbing salt in the wound.

I'm sorry. It's my fault. How do I make it right?

Apologies are not pass/fail.

No matter how bad things are, you can always make things worse.

No job is beneath you. You ought to be thrilled you got a job in the mailroom And when you get there, here's what you do: Be really great at sorting mail.

(My coach) knew there was only one way to develop (self esteem): You give children something they can't do, they work hard until they find they can do it, and you just keep repeating the process.

Never lose the child like wonder. It's just too important. It's what drives us. Help others.

We've placed a lot of emphasis in this country on the idea of people's rights. That's how it should be, but it makes no sense to talk about rights without also talking about responsibilities.

The person who failed often knows how to avoid future failures. The person who knows only success can be more oblivious to all the pitfalls.

I know you're smart. But everyone here is smart. Smart isn't enough. The kind of people I want on my research team are those who will help everyone feel happy to be here.

There are more ways than one to measure profits and losses.

Put on your own oxygen mask before assisting others.

... I was hugely impressed... was the ultimate example of a man who knew what he didn't know, was perfectly willing to admit it, and didn't want to leave until he understood. That's heroic to me. I wish every grad student had that attitude.

If you have a question, then find the answer.

Complaining does not work as a strategy.

It's not helpful if we spend every day dreading tomorrow ~Jai

Focus on other people, not on yourself.

I don't believe in the no-win scenario

An injured lion wants to know if he can still roar.

Tags:  April 2011  Cancer  Emotional  Inspiration  Intellectual  Occupational  Physical  Quotes  Social  Spiritual 

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Be Smarter than the Sun! (May 2010)

Posted By National Wellness Institute, Saturday, May 1, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 28, 2012

Spring has sprung and summer's right around the corner! In these late spring/early summer months it can be easy to ignore the sun; it doesn't seem nearly hot enough to cause harm. Without realizing it, the sun could be damaging your eyes or your skin. Take the necessary precautions to prevent UV radiation complications.

Being exposed to too much UV radiation has been shown to cause a variety of visual impairments. The American Optometric Association (www.aoa.org) informs, "The sun's UV radiation can cause cataracts; benign growths on the eye's surface; cancer of the eyelids and skin around the eyes; and photokeratitis, sometimes called snow blindness, which is a temporary but painful sunburn of the eye's surface." They recommend practical over fashionable sunglasses. For more information on what to look for while shopping for sunglasses search the AOA website. Many people realize that their skin needs protection from the sun, but they neglect to protect their eyes. Putting sunglasses on can save your eyes from overexposure to the sun.

Name five items you would never forget to bring to the beach . . . go! Ok, I imagine that a towel and a beach ball were at the top of your list, and I hope sunscreen was too. In the hot summer months it's easy to remember your sunscreen. What many people don't realize is that it's just as important in these late spring/early summer months to apply sunscreen before spending time outdoors. Where there is sun, there is UV radiation and it's important to protect your skin against the harmful effects of over-exposure. Minimal sunburn is usually just a nuisance and disappears in a couple of days, but it's also an indication that you should have applied more sunscreen. The Skin Cancer Foundation warns that, "One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime." Take preventative steps to deter becoming one in five. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends applying a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes before going outdoors and to continue applying sunscreen every two hours of sun exposure. For more skin cancer prevention tips visit www.skincancer.org.

Don't let the sun fool you. Wear your sunglasses and sunscreen whenever you spend time outdoors!

Tags:  Cancer  Intellectual  May 2010  Physical  Sun 

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