Honestly I despair. I have read on a couple of blogs that it is World Cancer Day so I looked it up.
Apparently 4 February is World Cancer Day as designated by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
So what’s with this alternative World Cancer Day today and lots of images being plastered all over the place? Ah. It’s Livestrong. The Lance Armstrong thing.
But why don’t they have the same day as WHO? Why set up another day? There are enough of these wretched World This That And The Other Days, weeks and months as it is.
Wait! I have finally tracked an original source on the not-very-good or regularly-updated Livestrong blog (full of tacky adverts too).
In fact, they did post it on February 4 this year. And the Livestrong blog came up with three really top tips to prevent cancer – on the lines of:
1) ring the doctor to have a friendly chat about risks from cancer and how to avoid them. FFS They are not a free bloody advice service. They are certainly aren’t free in the USA as far as I know, and they aren’t just there to provide health education information in the UK either, even if they may be free. Ish. For now.
2) Stop smoking for a week. That’ll do you a lot of good. You might want to think about stopping for longer than a week actually.
3) Drink lots of water instead of soda. (Does that mean sweet fizzy drinks?) Fair enough. On its own I doubt it will be a world-saving cancer beater.
As if that wasn’t enough, I read a later post on the blog where they told people that there was nothing wrong with eating red meat, and the recent study suggesting there was a link with health problems was totally pooh-poohed. (See previous post on here)
Now, there is no way I pretend to be objective, but I think a study by the Harvard School of Public Health may be worth a passing nod out of interest. I would have thought these foundation organisations such as Livestrong should introduce a little more impartiality into their commenting, given how many people latch onto their pronouncements.
I quote (my comments in Italics):
The population studied was nurses. All nurses. This is not condemning the health profession, but nurses (and doctors) work some very difficult hours. (A lot of people do. Health professionals aren’t the only ones) They are not necessarily the model of health. (Who is? Surely we should be looking at the average person and not a gleaming healthy product?) Even if you disagree with that statement, nurses are not representative of the general population. (But what would represent the ‘general population’? Better to confine the study to one group in a way and look at the differences in habits and the eventual results – a better comparator)
How did the researchers test the dangers of meat? Through a survey and questionnaire. This wasn’t some deep and complex lab work.
Actually, so many studies are not ‘deep and complex lab work’. They are about following people over a long period of time, which is exactly what this study did. That is the function of public health. You can’t really work out how the health of the population is changing over time with a few quick lab tests. Even if they are deep and complex.
But let me quote their bottom line (and my bolding):
The bottom line:
As always, what you eat is up to you. The argument isn’t about whether you should or shouldn’t eat meat–it’s about whether red meat is inherently dangerous. As a practical way to ensure your health, mix select lean cuts of red meat with fattier options if you are trying to prevent overeating (because fatty cuts are very caloric). Stay active, eat fruits and vegetables, consume protein from a variety of sources, sleep more, and enjoy your meat without guilt.
Right. Unless we are talking ethics here, ie vegetarian ethics, why should there be an issue of guilt? Surely the issue is one of information. This is a health-related topic. If you have made your choices – to smoke, drink, eat red meat, endless junk food – that is up to you, and there is no reason why you should feel guilty. I think what that last comment was really saying was – we can’t tell you that there is no link between health problems and red meat, but we can tell you to enjoy it with a free conscience. That’s really helpful information isn’t it?
And there is no link at all between overconsumption of red meat and colo-rectal cancer? As a passing question?
However, why are people posting on their blogs about today being World Cancer Day?? Totally confused here. All I have to say, as a historian and journalist , is that it is always prudent to check on your sources. And not just copy stuff verbatim and contribute to the misinformation media – which I have done of course virtue of reblogging (but at least doing that I can say that I didn’t actually write it) helpfully just passing it out into the air for you all.
And as I’ve started on this theme, I may as well complete it and continue to moan about these stupid World Whatsit Days.
All they seem to do – particularly in the case of cancer – is generate a load of soppy maudling comments all over the place about people who have died, with requests for prayers for those who currently have cancer. (Still haven’t worked out where the link to today comes from).
I would respectfully suggest, that although people may find writing that sort of stuff cathartic, what would be more useful would be making themselves better informed about cancer. Rather than asking their local friendly doctor who has time on their hands to spend half a day instructing them on potential health risks that may develop into cancer (as per the recommend above).
If close friends or family have cancer, the most helpful thing for anyone to do is learn as much about it as possible from responsible, respectable sites, or professional advice/support groups. In America the Mayo Clinic site is pretty good. In the UK, the NHS surprisingly provides an excellent range of information (check out the NICE info). There are also a lot of other good UK sites, links are on the main NHS site.
Asking an ethereal deity to intervene is all well and good if you believe in that – and if it works, great. But in the meantime, it would be helpful to take practical measures and make sure you can do something that can help your relative or friend. Gaining knowledge about the specific cancer, the treatment, the subsequent effects, the stage of the illness, and whether or not someone is likely to die in the near future, will help everyone. You will have helped the person with cancer, and you will have helped yourself too.
As for living healthily – don’t eat all those crap meals from the supermarket, don’t smoke (tobacco), drink in moderation, take some exercise, and eat fresh food. If you don’t want to eat organic food that’s up to you, but just remember that pesticides have invariably been based on toxic chemicals – eg arsenic, mercury, or in later years, one of the components of Agent Orange.
Having finished that slight tirade – here is a list of World Whatsit Days.
Today is actually World Sleep Day!! Wonderful!! Does that mean I can go back to bed now instead of faffing around on here?? How fantastic to have a World Sleep Day. I tell you, I could make 366 days into World Sleep Days. Oh! And I can’t wait for May. Better Sleep Month!!!!!!
• World Cancer Day (February 4)
• World Sleep Day (March 19)
• World TB Day (March 24)
• Sarcoidosis Awareness Month (April)
• World Health Day (April 7)
• World Voice Day (April 10)
• Breathe Easy Month (May)
• Clean Air Month (May)
• Asthma Awareness Month (May)
• Better Sleep Month (May)
• World Asthma Day (May 4)
• World No Tobacco Day (May 31)
• Cancer Survivors Day (June 6)
• Immunization Awareness Month
• Healthy Lung Month (October)
• Child Health Day (October 4)
• Sleep Technologist Appreciation Week (October 4-8)
• World Spirometry Day (Oct. 14)
• Respiratory Care Week (October 24-30)
• Lung Health Day (October 27)
• Lung Cancer Awareness Month (November)
• World Pneumonia Day (November 2)
• World COPD Day (November 17)
Happy World Sleep Day 🙂