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Articles / 2010

Cancer prevention symposium set

Ventura County Star
Wednesday, 09/26/2010
By Alicia Doyle

While most of us have heard that eliminating tobacco and wearing sunscreen can prevent cancer, new causes of the disease, many related to our environment, are identified regularly.

“We are seeing cancer being diagnosed at younger ages and many of these could be due to environmental factors or personal habits,” said Kathleen Horton, cancer program manager at Community Memorial Health System in Ventura and a radiation therapy technologist for more than 20 years.

During a symposium Oct. 9 at the Ventura Beach Marriott, titled How the Environment Impacts Cancer, experts will discuss what causes the disease and what people can do to avoid contracting it.

Presented by Community Memorial Health System, the event is free.

Researchers estimate that “about 80 percent of cancers are environmentally related, which is a shocking number,” said Tom Fogel, radiation oncologist at Cabrillo Radiology Oncology Center. Fogel will moderate the symposium in addition to presenting “Does Hormonal Replacement Therapy Increase Your Risk of Cancer?”

Other doctors will discuss topics including the effects of diet, personal habits, genes, smoking, tanning booths, sun exposure and ethnicity on caner.

“The No. 1 cause (of cancer) is tobacco that’s environmentally exposed, either by lifestyle or secondhand smoke; the other half is diet and exercise,” Fogel said. “All these things affect our hormones. And the foods we eat have a relationship to increasing the risk of developing cancer.”

For instance, he said, people from cultures with high-fiber diets have a lower risk of prostate cancer and colon cancer. Those who eat high-fat diets (for example, Americans) are at higher risk for those cancers.
Horton noted that “head and neck cancers are on the rise and we are seeing the increase in people in their 40s and early 50s.”

Excessive smoking and drinking can lead to head and neck cancer, but HPV, a sexually transmitted virus, might also be related. HPV is already known to be responsible for cervical cancer.

Noninvasive cervical cancer is highly curable with early detection and is being diagnosed in very young adults, Horton said. However, “head and neck cancer treatment is very intense and has side effects that can last for over a year, thus is one of the more difficult treatments to go through.”

In addition to eliminating tobacco, drinking alcohol sparingly and using sunscreen to prevent cancer, Horton said, “eat a healthy diet, make sure that your home is asbestos free, use household products that are nontoxic and use protection when having sex.”