IACAN’s mission is to educate the Indian American community besides being a cancer resource network. The SAHNA study shows that people of Indian origin can benefit from education programs on Cancer, Health and Nutrition. Annually IACAN conducts at least 4 Education programs. The subjects include different types of cancers, how to identify and get treatment, treatment methods, maintaining a healthy Lifestyle, relaxation among many other things. The Board members and volunteers work hard to choose relevant subjects and speakers who can present the subject in a way so everyone can understand and answer questions from the audience at the end of the program.
Sugar and Cancer Webinar
On Saturday, August 29, 2020 IACAN was fortunate to host Dr. Peiying Yang and Angela Sue Thompson from MD Anderson Cancer Center to discuss the topic of Cancer and Sugar. There is evidence from numerous human studies worldwide that high sugar consumption has a significant impact on the development of some cancers. Although the exact role that sugar plays is not fully clear, what is clear is that most people living in the US consume much more sugar than the recommended 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men. Further study to examine the impact of reduced sugar intake on cancer would be necessary to gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of sugar and cancer.
To reduce your sugar intake, try these tips: choose more unprocessed foods, read food labels and avoid “added sugar”, gradually reduce the amount of sugar you use, choose fruit for dessert, and reserve sugary food for the occasional treat. Also important is maintaining an overall healthy diet. The American Institute of Cancer Research recommends a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and beans with a limited intake of red and processed meat, fast food, and alcohol.
Cancer and Mental Health during COVID 19
As pandemic dawned upon us since early 2020, managing mental health has been one of the key challenges, becoming even more complicated for cancer patients and their caregivers. IACAN’s third outreach program this year was aimed to address mental health during COVID-19. On October 3rd. Dr. Sharice Preston, a cancer health scholar at the University of Texas School of Public Health and a cancer survivor, gave an online seminar titled, CANCER AND MENTAL HEALTH: Giving Yourself Space to Feel. Starting with the epidemiological aspect of mental health and cancer in the context of COVID, Dr. Preston covered topics such as identifying symptoms of depression and anxiety under the pandemic generated stressors and coping strategies to handle such stressors. Her discussion also included understanding the hierarchy of mental health needs, identifying depression, and the benefits of maintaining positivity in managing mental health. During the Q & A session, Dr. Preston shared her journey of cancer treatment during the pandemic. At the end of the session, the audience reported increased mental health knowledge and increased self-efficacy in maintaining mental health.
Yoga and its benefits
It is now clear that Yoga’s popularity around the world has gone well beyond a fad or passing curiosity. The burgeoning field of mind-body research and contemplative practices in medicine, of which yoga from the Indian tradition is prominent, is beginning to show that the contribution of these practices to health and well-being goes well beyond the simple relaxation response. Yoga when practiced in a comprehensive manner including asana, pranayama, meditation, diet, and social consciousness will have profound effects on all aspects of life. In fact, lifestyle factors are increasingly being recognized for their role in most non-communicable diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory diseases. The science of yoga has expanded dramatically in the past few decades with the benefits of yoga being documented through the use of rigorous research across our population from multiple medical conditions to how it can help school children become better students and ultimately better adults to foster a healthier world.
Yoga, a quintessential mind-body practice, when approached as a way of life, can have a profound impact on people with cancer. The state-of-science of lifestyle and yoga for people with cancer is reviewed in Dr. Lorenzo Cohen’s talk with an emphasis on past and ongoing research conducted at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Extensive research now supports yoga’s benefits in improving overall health, quality of life, physical function, and multiple biological outcomes (immune function, hormone regulation, etc.), as well as stress resilience and ability to find meaning in the illness experience. According to the joint Society for Integrative Oncology and American Society of Clinical Oncology guidelines for the use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment, yoga is recommended for reducing anxiety as well as for improving quality of life, mood, depressive symptoms, fatigue, and sleep. Similarly, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN®) recommends patients “consider” yoga for improving some survivorship areas, such as distress, cognitive functioning, menopausal symptoms, and pain. Yoga is also formally listed in the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology as an effective intervention for cancer-related fatigue and anticipatory nausea/vomiting. Yoga plays an important role for cancer patients and caregivers alike to help improve aspects of quality of life and possibly even clinical outcomes.