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The Physicians Committee

Cancer and Nutrition Symposium a Huge Success

More than 300 oncologists, dietitians, nurses, and other health care professionals attended The Cancer Project’s third annual Cancer and Nutrition Symposium in August. Participants heard eight groundbreaking presentations and enjoyed two gourmet vegan meals, and some health care professionals were even eligible to receive continuing education credits.

Symposium speakersSome of the world’s top cancer researchers presented their work at the symposium. Rowan Chlebowski, M.D., Ph.D., and John Pierce, M.D., kicked off the event with discussions of their landmark research on breast cancer and diet. Ruth Marlin, M.D., presented Dean Ornish’s latest prostate cancer studies—the Prostate Cancer Lifestyle Trial and the Gene Expression Modulation by Intervention with Nutrition and Lifestyle pilot study, which showed that a vegan diet not only has the power to affect cancer biomarkers like PSA levels, but it also can alter genetic expression that may relate to disease prevention.

Mark Messina, Ph.D., discussed the research on breast cancer and soy, and Alison Duncan, Ph.D, M.Sc., spoke on soy and prostate cancer.

Symposium sample mealThe symposium concluded with a panel discussion about translating nutrition recommendations to public policy. Cancer Project president, Neal Barnard, M.D., shared his seven-step proposal for affecting public policy. Stephen L. Joseph, Esq., went on to compare the campaign he led to ban trans fats, which was considered by many to be an impossible goal at the onset, to The Cancer Project’s work to remove processed meats from school lunch menus. Rob Barron, from Sen. Tom Harkin’s office, commented on the process and potential obstacles to implementing Dr. Barnard’s recommendations.

The symposium came on the heels of The Cancer Project’s recently launched campaign to educate parents about the cancer risk posed by processed meats. In July, The Cancer Project debuted “Protect Our Kids,” a provocative 30-second television ad featuring three children at an elementary school who describe their lives from the perspective of adults with cancer. The ad intersperses their stories with shots of hot dogs, deli meats, and other unhealthy foods so often found on school lunch lines.

“Protect Our Kids” made its debut on CNN in memory of Tony Snow, the former White House press secretary who died of colon cancer in July. The ad also ran in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.—home to six school districts serving disproportionately large amounts of processed meats. The Cancer Project chose these cities after conducting an analysis of the prevalence of processed meats in school meals around the country this spring. The survey of processed meat found in the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs showed that many school menus are packed with processed meats. In fact, 16 of the 29 districts received a failing grade.


PCRM Online, September 2008

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