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Cancer Support Program
Employee Cancer Awareness Articles for Newsletter, Intranet, or email blasts.
March: Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet. But do you
know how much is the right amount? The American Cancer Society recommends eating five or more
servings of fruits and vegetables each day to help prevent cancer. These foods contain important
vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants and are usually low in calories. In general, those
with the most color (green, red, yellow and orange) have the most nutrients.
Below are some examples of a serving size:
One medium-size fruit
½ cup raw, cooked, frozen or canned fruits (in 100% juice) or vegetables
¾ cup (6 ounces) 100% fruit or vegetable juice
½ cup cooked, canned or frozen legumes (beans and peas)
1 cup raw, leafy vegetables
1/4 cup dried fruit
Here are some snack suggestions to help reach your daily fruit and vegetable goal:
Keep dried fruits and vegetable juice boxes in your desk drawer and glove compartment.
Keep a bowl full of fresh veggies and fruits on your kitchen counter.
Look for pre-washed, precut vegetables such as baby carrots and broccoli florets at the
grocery store. Dip them in nonfat ranch dressing for extra zip.
Limit French fries, snack chips, and other fried vegetable products as nibbles, as well as at
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June: This month, during National Men's Health Week, you have the perfect opportunity to talk to
your loved ones about preventing cancer and finding it early, when it's most treatable. Colorectal
(commonly called colon) and prostate cancer are among the leading causes of cancer deaths among
men in the United States. But when people are diagnosed with these cancers at the earliest stages,
more than 90% are still alive five years later.
Here's what you need to know:
Starting at age 50, men should talk to their doctor about the benefits and risks of prostate
cancer screening tests so they can make a decision that is right for them
If they are African American or have a close relative who had prostate cancer at a young age,
they should be tested beginning at age 45. They should talk to their doctor about the benefits
and risks of testing.
Testing for colon cancer should begin at age 50 for both women and men. These screening
tests can help find polyps (precancerous growths), which can easily be removed, preventing
cancer from forming.
Other factors, such as a low-fat diet and regular physical activity may help reduce the risk of prostate
cancer and colon cancer. But since neither disease shows early warning signs, it's critical for men to
talk to their doctor about testing to find cancer early.
If you or one of your covered dependents has been recently diagnosed with cancer, don't forget that
you may be eligible for cancer resources, information and support. As part of our company plan,
UnitedHealthcare benefit members are eligible to receive Cancer Support Program resources.
Please call 1-866-936-6002 for more information.
July: Summer is here and it’s time to enjoy the outdoors. But please keep in mind that more than
one million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year. That’s more than breast, lung, colon and
prostate cancers combined. And the majority of those are caused by exposure to the sun’s rays.
Play it safe in the sun this summer by protecting your skin. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or
higher every time you go outside — even if it’s cloudy outside. Be sure to reapply sunscreen after
prolonged sun exposure, swimming or perspiring. Avoid the sun when its rays are most intensebetween 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. And wear tightly woven clothes, a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses
with UV protective lenses.
Find out more about skin cancer or any other type of cancer by calling 1-866-936-6002.
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August: This month, the American Cancer Society is challenging Americans to eat right. According
to a report from the World Cancer Research Fund, body fat, diet and physical activity have a direct
effect on your risk of cancer. The authors found evidence that:
Being overweight puts people at risk for eight different cancers: cancer of the colon,
rectum, esophagus, endometrium (uterus), pancreas, kidney, gallbladder and breast.
Some foods increase cancer risk, while others help lower it.
Being physically active can protect against some types of cancer and also helps prevent
This is not the first time experts have linked cancer with lifestyle. What's new is the amount of
evidence that confirms what experts have thought. The report is the most thorough look yet at the link
between diet, lifestyle habits and cancer. More than 100 scientists from around the world spent five
years reviewing thousands of cancer studies. A group of 21 leading scientists wrote
recommendations based on the findings.
Ten keys to cancer prevention
You can lower your risk of getting cancer. Any progress toward these goals could help. Aim for
gradual changes that you can stick with over time.
1. Be as lean as you can for your weight and height. A body mass index (BMI) between 21 and
23 is best. Try to avoid weight gain as you age, especially around your waist.
2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day. Take a brisk walk or ride a bike. Do
household chores, yard work or gardening. The important thing is to sit less and move more.
Always check with your doctor before increasing your activity level.
3. Avoid sugary drinks, and limit junk food and fast food. These have a lot of calories and
make you more likely to gain weight.
4. Eat a variety of plant-based foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes
(bean, peas and lentils). These foods are high in nutrients and fiber, and are low in calories.
5. Limit red meats and avoid meats that are cured, smoked, salted or have preservatives.
Poultry and fish are better choices.
6. Limit alcohol. Have no more than two drinks a day if you're a man and one drink a day if
you're a woman.
7. Limit salt and salty foods. Read food labels and try to get no more than 2,000 mg of sodium
a day.
8. Don't rely on supplements to prevent cancer. Try to get the vitamins and minerals you
need from the foods you eat.
9. If you are a mother, try to breast-feed your baby for at least six months. This can help
protect you from breast cancer. It may also help keep your baby from being overweight now
and later in life. Being overweight increases the risk of cancer.
10. If you've had cancer, follow these recommendations. They may help protect you against
cancer, as well as other chronic diseases.
Of course, don't smoke or chew tobacco and avoid secondhand smoke. While outside the scope of
this report, tobacco use is known to increase the risk of many types of cancer. It's the leading
preventable cause of cancer death in the United States.
External Sources:
World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research. Public health goals and personal recommendations. In:
Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective. 2007. Accessed October 31, 2007.
American Institute for Cancer Research. AICR survey uncovers distorted perceptions about what causes cancer. 2007 AICR
Facts vs. Fears Survey. Accessed November 5, 2007.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fact Sheet: Tobacco-related mortality. September 2006. Accessed November 5,
National Cancer Institute. Cancer Prevention Overview. Accessed November 5, 2007.
October: It’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and if you've been diagnosed with breast
cancer, you're not alone. Except for cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most common cancer in
women in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society, about 240,000 women will
be diagnosed with non-invasive and invasive breast cancer in the US each year. Men can also
develop breast cancer, although it is much less common. Each year, an estimated 2,000 men are
diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S.
From a personal perspective, learning that you or someone you love has breast cancer can be
overwhelming. But as you make the commitment to fight breast cancer, it helps to learn as much as
you can about the disease, its treatment, and how to reduce your risk of it coming back.
There's a lot to learn, so take your time and call 1-866-936-6002 if you have questions or need
additional support.
November: This month is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. If you smoke, please consider the
following health benefits of quitting:
20 minutes after quitting: Your heart rate and blood pressure drops.
(Effect of Smoking on Arterial Stiffness and Pulse Pressure Amplification, Mahmud, A, Feely, J. 2003. Hypertension:41:183.)
12 hours after quitting: The carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal.
(US Surgeon General's Report, 1988, p. 202)
2 weeks to 3 months after quitting: Your circulation improves and your lung function
(US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, pp.193, 194,196, 285, 323)
1 to 9 months after quitting: Coughing and shortness of breath decrease; cilia (tiny hair-like
structures that move mucus out of the lungs) regain normal function in the lungs, increasing
the ability to handle mucus, clean the lungs, and reduce the risk of infection.
(US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, pp. 285-287, 304)
1 year after quitting: The excess risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker's.
(US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, p. vi)
5 years after quitting: Your stroke risk is reduced to that of a nonsmoker 5 to 15 years after
(US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, p. vi)
10 years after quitting: The lung cancer death rate is about half that of a continuing
smoker's. The risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, cervix, and pancreas
(US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, pp. vi, 131, 148, 152, 155, 164,166)
15 years after quitting: The risk of coronary heart disease is that of a non-smoker's.
(US Surgeon General's Report, 1990, p. vi)
Please visit the American Cancer Society’s Web site at to learn more about the Great American
Smokeout Challenge.
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