Tahlequah Daily Press


October 23, 2013

Healthy diet, exercise ward off cancer

TAHLEQUAH — Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States, making prevention an important aspect of research and lifestyle choices.

Healthy diet and exercise are steps to keep health risks at a minimum, as are avoiding exposure to sun, chemicals and smoking. Regular checkups, including mammograms and other screenings, are also vital in prevention. Early treatment is usually effective, giving people cancer-free second chances.

A healthy immune system is an important defense in preventing and reducing the risk of cancer and a positive attitude can make a difference.

Heather Winn, OSU Extension educator, said there are many unknown factors in cancer, but knowing your family health history is a good place to start.

Wise food choices can help you lower cancer risks and maintain a healthy weight, along with being physically active every day.

“Some guidelines to help lower cancer risk emphasize consuming ample fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seafood and low-fat dairy foods. Choose foods with less fat. When consuming fats, choose polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and oils over saturated and transfats, and choose foods with less added salt and sodium,” Winn said. “Also use alcohol in moderation and abstain from smoking.”

Some cancers may have an inherited genetic factor, Winn said, and some environmental factors may increase the risk of certain types of cancer, such as excess radiation and sunlight, water and air pollution. Lifestyle choices like smoking and lack of physical activity may have a direct role in the development of certain types of cancer.

“Nutrition for older adults and lack of physical activity may also increase the risk for obesity, which is a risk factor for certain types of cancer,” Winn said. “Fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes contain certain compounds that may help lower the risk of cancer, and Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood may lower risk.”

Survival rates are improving and people are finding themselves cancer-free again and looking to keep healthy.

It is possible to get excellent care close to home, said Vicki C. Baker, M.D., medical oncologist in private practice since 1990.

“In my training years, I realized that at the end of the day of my oncology rotations, I really felt like I was making a difference in people’s lives and they appreciated it,” Baker said. “I get to tell people that they are cancer-free, or their cancer is going away on a regular, even daily basis. Many cancers in advanced stages used to be universally rapidly fatal. Now many are chronic illnesses that are managed for years and years.”

Being diagnosed with cancer is very frightening, but patients shouldn’t be afraid to learn all they can with a doctor’s help, she said.

“Most people, including physicians who are not oncologists, have misconceptions about the choices for treatments and the effectiveness of treatment. So many patients are pleasantly surprised by the assessment and the improved outcomes that are possible,” Baker said.

The most common cancers are lung, breast, prostate and colon cancer, she said.

“Lifestyle and behavior factors result in high rates of smoking-related cancers in Oklahoma. Access to screening for colon and breast cancer needs to be improved as well,” she said. ”We have made great strides in treating and curing lymphomas, myeloma and some types of leukemia. Advanced colon, breast and ovarian cancer patients are living long lives with treatment.”

Side effect management is improving, took Baker said.

“We can control most nausea and vomiting, limit risks of infections, and know more about long-term effects of treatment as people are surviving longer. Many treatments are available in oral form, which improves many aspects of taking treatments,” Baker said.

After treatment many people choose different lifestyle choices, but it is  amazing how many people go back to smoking after they go through so much together to result in a cure, she said.

“The best prevention for cancer is the same as prevention for heart disease: healthy eating, exercise, avoiding tobacco and attention to recommended screenings,” said Baker. ”Smoking is the most obvious. Obesity is a significant risk factor for many cancers as well. It also contributes to difficulties in diagnosing cancer at earlier stages.”

There is not really much in the way of science to state that a positive attitude improves the chance to survive cancer, but Baker believes that.

“I can say with 23 years of experience that facing the challenge with the support of friends and family, hope and optimism will make the experience better overall,” Baker said. “Most people are able to look at their lives differently and are changed for the better after this experience.”

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    Until recently, most people had a certain expectation of American Indian art – and it didn’t include images familiar to people in and around Cherokee County.
    “A lot of times, when people think about Native art, they immediately think of Plains art or Southwestern art,” said Roy Boney (Cherokee), Tahlequah artist and moderator of the panel discussion “Southeastern Indian Art: Building Community and Raising Awareness,” held Friday, April 11, at the NSU Symposium on the American Indian.
    Boney and the other panelists are frustrated by the divide between mainstream expectations of Native American art and their need for genuine self-expression.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-Teacher.jpg Dickerson believes in putting the student first

    As a child growing up in Elk City, Cherokee Elementary teacher Debra Dickerson lined up the neighborhood children and animals to play school.
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    The classroom then was a blanket tossed over limbs of her big cherry tree on Eisenhower Street. Recess was spent tree-climbing, running, riding in the bus (her red wagon) and being creative.
    “Those were the days before video games and TV,” she said.
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    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • kh-trash-pickup.jpg Cleaning things up

    Lowrey was part of the Cherokee Nation’s Career Service Center contingency of 11 volunteers. Other volunteers cleaned up trash along the roadway from the Cherokee Casino to the NSU campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • SR-NinthAmendment.jpg Right to privacy leans partly on Article 9

    While the other articles of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights are straightforward – at least, enough for Americans to bicker over in court – the Ninth Amendment might cause a bit of confusion.
    It reads: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
    There are no rights enumerated, and it might be difficult to argue one’s Ninth Amendment rights in court, though it has been done successfully.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • stickball-2.jpg Stickball

    The American Indian Science and Engineering Society and Native American Student Associationat Northeastern State University hosted a traditional stickball game as part of closing cultural activities during the 42nd annual Symposium on the American Indian Friday. Participants included, from left: Nathan Wolf, Disosdi Elk and Chris Smith.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • green-bldng.jpg City council to discuss ‘green building’

    Tahlequah City Council will hold a special meeting Friday, April 11, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss, among other items, applying grant money to renovate the city’s “green building” at the corner of Water and Morgan, near Norris Park.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • alcohol-info.jpg Alcohol screening can be critical

    It has been decades since Prohibition brought Americans gangsters, flappers and speakeasies, but statistics for alcohol addiction are staggering.
    Millions of Americans suffer from alcohol addiction and abuse, which affects families and friends.
    Today, April 10, is the annual National Alcohol Screening Day, and raising awareness through education, outreach and screening programs is the goal, according to the website at www.mentalhealthscreening.org.

    April 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • jn-CCSO-2.jpg Law enforcement agencies to get new facility

    Area law enforcement agencies will soon have a new training facility in Cherokee County.
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    “This is something we’ve been trying to work on, and it was built with no money from the taxpayers,” said Fisher. “It was paid for with drug forfeitures and gun sales.”

    April 9, 2014 2 Photos

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    April 9, 2014 3 Photos

  • rf-Volunteer-Harris.jpg Music still in the blood of retired music teacher

    Volunteer opportunities Harris supports include Court Appointed Special Advocates of Cherokee Country, Feed My Sheep, and directing the Go Ye Village Women’s Choir. She’s also served for many years as musical director of Tahlequah Community Playhouse.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
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