By Jessica McAllister, YouthWorks Council Vice President and East Valley High School Student
In America alone, over 1,600,000 people are fighting the battle against cancer. Around 500,000 cancer related deaths occur each year in the United States. Billions of people worldwide suffer from various types of cancer. The fight against cancer is a fierce, ongoing battle. The entire month of February has been dedicated to Cancer Awareness and Prevention.
Studies have shown that diet and other lifestyle choices (such as smoking) are directly related to one’s chances of getting cancer. Smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths. Each year, about 3,400 nonsmoking adults die of lung cancer as a result of second hand smoke. In the United States, it is estimated that overweight and obesity is responsible for 14%-20% of all cancer related deaths. February is all about exposing these ugly facts and showing people ways to better their health.
For our monthly YouthWorks meeting, we had North Star Lodge Dietitian/Nutrition Counselor, Lena Gill, give our Council a brief presentation about how food can impact your health and cancer risk. It was very interesting how foods that we eat everyday and don’t think twice about actually have a huge impact on health and cancer. For instance, non-organic fruits could be a major cancer risk.
YouthWorks role in Cancer Awareness and Prevention Month was to go out to high schools around Yakima Valley and get the word out about your diet and its relationship with cancer. Council members made flyers, power points, and posters, filled with facts about cancer and how to prevent it. Our goal was to grab the attention of local high school kids and make them think about their health and risk of cancer.
Although cancer is not 100% preventable, there are many things people can do to lower their risks. With the facts provided by YouthWorks members, we hope that young people will think more about their diet and take the steps to make healthier lifestyle choices.