Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women today. More than 1 million women world-wide are diagnosed with this cancer each year, mostly in the 50 and older age group. Breast Cancer Awareness Month highlights this international public health problem, and it is a good time to consider ways in which we can reduce our risk of this cancer. While many factors beyond our control contribute to risk, like age and family history, we do know of a few ways we can lower the risk of breast cancer.
Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980. Once considered a problem only in high income countries, being overweight and obese is now dramatically on the rise all over the world, particularly in urban areas. As of 2008, the World Health Organization estimated that 1.4 billion adults were overweight, including 300 million obese individuals. In the year 2000, for the first time in human history, the number of adults worldwide who were overweight was greater than the number of adults who were underweight. In fact, approximately 65% of the world's population lives in countries where being overweight and obese kills more people than being underweight. The U.S. is near the front of the pack as the country with the 4th highest rate of obesity; about 2/3 of people in America are overweight, including approximately 1/3 are obese.
Cancer patients are traveling to China hoping that controversial gene therapy Gendicine may prove a miracle cure. But western scientists are very reluctant to back the therapy which remains available only in China. Philomina Moniz was given six months to live by Australian doctors. Her bladder cancer had spread into her abdomen, and there seemed no chance of controlling further spread. She heard of the Gendicine treatment in an article on the internet, and traveled to China where she was given an 80% chance of survival. Professor John Rasko admits that, "In cancer medicine it's always important to allow for hope", but he worries that there is still "no compelling evidence" that Gendicine is the miracle cure it is billed as. The treatment does not come cheap with a full course costing as much as 100,000, and while for some the price of life can never be too high, Rasko worries that not only are people wasting their time, they are also subjecting themselves to "considerable extra suffering" and "unexpected side-effects". Philomena's cancer ultimately proved not to respond to the Gendicine therapy. But she does not regret her trip, "at least I've tried everything in the book" she says. For her, like the hundreds of other patients in the clinic, "seeing people walk out of the clinic cancer free" provided the hope needed to go on fighting this deadly disease.
Produced by ABC Australia
Distributed by Journeyman Pictures
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