President’s Cancer Panel Report

Filed under: General Health

To continue in the same vein as my previous post, I want to discuss another piece I learned about during my rotation at the Cancer Center. My preceptor had a paper tacked up on her wall about the 2010 President’s Cancer Panel report that I thought was very interesting.

The President’s Cancer Panel was created by Congress in 1971 and it’s purpose is to monitor the National Cancer Progam and report directly to the President every year. This panel is made up of two members - Dr. LaSalle D. Lefall, Jr., a professor of surgery at Howard University and Margaret Kripke, a professor at University of Texas’ M.D. Anderson Cancer Center – they were appointed by President Bush to three-year terms.

The two members of the panel met with nearly 50 medical experts in late 2008 and early 2009 before writing their report to the president.

This 240 page report declared that “The true burden of environmentally induced cancers has been grossly underestimated.” The report urged President Obama “to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase health care costs, cripple our nation’s productivity, and devastate American lives.” That is some pretty strong language right there, and I like it!

While the report acknowledges that  environmental causes of cancer are nothing new, “this group of carcinogens has not been addressed adequately by the National Cancer Program. The American people – even before they are born – are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures.”

Most cancer epidemiologists have long maintained that tobacco use, diet and other factors are responsible for most cancers, and that chemicals and pollutants cause only a small portion — perhaps 5 percent. This reports begs to differ. The panel called those estimates “woefully out of date.” The panel criticized regulators for using those low estimates to set environmental regulations and blasted the chemical industry for using them “to justify its claims that specific products pose little or no cancer risk.” 

“It is not known exactly what percentage of all cancers either are initiated or promoted by an environmental trigger,” the panel said in its report. “Some exposures to an environmental hazard occur as a single acute episode, but most often, individual or multiple harmful exposures take place over a period of weeks, months, years, or a lifetime.”

According to the report federal chemical laws are weak, funding for research and enforcement is inadequate, and regulatory responsibilities are split among too many agencies.  There are about 80,000 chemicals in commercial use in the United States, but federal regulators have assessed only about 2% of those for carcinogenicity.

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Posted on November 30th, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre


My Family Health Portrait

Filed under: General Health

While doing a quick rotation at the Cancer Center my preceptor showed me a pretty awesome website that I thought I would share with all of you.

It is called My Family Health Portrait, and it allows you to create a family history document to bring with you to your PCP and have placed in your medical file. This will provide your doctor with important information that can ultimately improve your health. People have become far more open about discussing health problems than in years past, but as a society we still tend to be very private about such things.

While I realize some are embarassing and we prefer not to discuss them, in reality it is very important for family members to be aware of each other’s health problems, because family history of a disease is a big-time risk factor for you to develop that disease. This tool allows you to essentially create a family tree of health issues and diseases you are potentially at risk for, possibly providing an early warning to your doctor that they may not otherwise have noticed.

It is beautifully simple and can be edited and updated over time. This is one more powerful tool to help you prevent unwanted health problems and providing a copy to your doctor is just one more step in becoming a strong advocate for yourself and your medical management.

Posted on November 28th, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre


Stuff You Should Read

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Training

This might just be the best Stuff You Should Read post in history. Seriously, it is that good.

1. While not really an article to read, check out this flowsheet sent to me by a reader/former client – How to find REAL FOOD at the supermarket. Overall it is a pretty helpful tool and I find it amusing as well.

2a. A House Divided. By Kellie Hart Davis via Tony Gentilcore’s blog. Kellie wrote a guest blog for Tony that might simply be the most touching post I have read all year. This is a must read for every single reader of this website. I think this is my favorite quote of the entire post – “Disease isn’t a part of aging; it’s a force of habit. It’s the inability to take action by putting your quality of life before indulgence, idleness, and insecurity.”

2b. Can I Have Your Attention Please: Pizza is Now a Veggie. By Tony Gentilcore. Tony rips apart the fact that Congress passed a new bill that as far as school lunches go, pizza now counts as a serving of vegetables. Seriously ridiculous stuff and Tony covers it in his usual entertaining manner.

3. 12 Tips to Tune the Nervous System. By Anthony Mychal. Anthony provides an easy-to-understand look at the nervous system and how it plays such an integral and misunderstood role in exercise and health. I really enjoyed this article and found Anthony’s writing style to be enjoyable to read and educational at the same time. It was really good, much like a Dan John article.

4. Stephen Guyenet’s entire series on whether insulin causes obesity. This is a much-discussed topic that in reality is poorly understood by most. Stephan does a fantastic job laying out the evidence and showing that insulin is far from the main driver of fat accumulation. Top-notch stuff as usual.


Posted on November 23rd, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre


Coffe Consumption & Health: The Final Word – Part 2

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

EC just posted the final piece of my 2 part series on coffee on his site Coffee Consumption & Health: The Final Word – Part 2. I highly recommend you check it out as I wrap up with some really interesting data on coffee and Alzheimer’s.

This series has generated some lively debate as many people are adamant that coffee is harmful to health regardless of the fact that the data mostly does not support that assertion. Too often people want to believe in conjecture and theory rather than boring facts, and I think coffee falls into that category. That may be because coffee consumption is often thought of in conjunction with a poor lifestyle – cigarette smoking, inadequate sleep and poor dietary habits – rather than an individual food.

I want to make clear that the conclusion of my article is a broad statement, and each individuals needs may or may not be different. What may be good for the population as a whole may not be good for you as an individual and I think it is important to keep that in mind, but also remember that I can’t account for every scenario in a 2,000 word article!

Posted on November 17th, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre

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Kate, Coffee & A Whole Lot of Awesome

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

So today my daughter Kate is exactly 6 months old. It seems utterly incredible that she has now been a part of my life for half of a year, and I have changed more diapers than I care to count! She is happy and healthy and growing like crazy! She is about 18.5 lbs and 28ish inches long (we measured and weighed her ourselves, so it is more of an approximation). Just thought you all might appreciate a little update.

On another note I just had an article published over at EC’s website entitled Coffee Consumption and Health: The Final Word – Part 1. This is a topic near and dear to my heart as I love my coffee in the morning, so be sure not to miss it!

Posted on November 14th, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre


Random Friday Thoughts

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

I realized I haven’t done a random thoughts blog in quite a while, and it is a nice change of pace to cover several topics with a broad brush rather than one topic so in-depth. With that in mind, here we go!

1. I know that a lot of people struggle to find that balance between healthy and quick when it comes to dinner. If you are anything like my family and you and your significant other both work, it’s not always easy to whip up a delicious dinner that is helping you meet your needs.

Well one food item that we find comes in handy is Minute Rice Ready To Serve. It comes in pre-portioned plastic containers. My wife and I will split one container in addition to our meat and vegetables of choice. We actually poor the rice into a small glass bowl and then microwave it for the 60 seconds, as I do NOT microwave plastic. While my preferences is potatoes, the time difference in preparation certainly makes a good case for this on time-crunched nights.

In addition the ingredients list is miniscule. Often in rice products like this you will see tons of additives, so one reason I like this product is the minimalist ingredient approach. It also comes in white, brown, pilaf and more options if that is your thing, though we mainly stick to the brown and wild, brown and a little white when the mood strikes. May not be perfect, but it is a pretty damn good option when time is of the essence.

2. The other day I was early for my work in an out-patient clinic, and I have to use my business debit card at least once per month or I get a $15 fee, so I stopped into the Dunkin Donuts drive through to get a coffee (it is ridiculous that I have to spend $2 to save $15, but it is what it is). The line was insane. I actually timed myself, and it took 9 minutes from the time I got into line until I actually received my coffee! 9 minutes! The point of this piece is that many people claim they don’t have time to make breakfast, yet they have time to drive to Dunkin Donuts and then wait nearly 10 minutes to actually get their breakfast! You could have made and eaten a bowl of oatmeal with a Greek yogurt  and some fruit as well as a cup of coffee, and cleaned up after yourself in less time and spent less money!

Stop making excuses and simply hold yourself accountable. You will be happier, healthier and have more money. What more could you want?!?

3. Reread my 2-part series on time-management (Part 1, Part 2). You will thank me. My wife and I have already found just making a few of those changes that we had not yet adopted making a tremendous difference for us. Just do it.

4. Be on the look out for some new articles from me in the next month or so. EC will have one on his site soon, as well as some other ones I have in the works that I think you guys will really like (one on saturated fat, one on polyunsaturated fat, maybe one or two others depending on time). I will keep you posted.

Posted on November 11th, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre


You Asked, I Answered

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition

A reader recently sent me a question about a popular food movement – Raw Food – and the idea that cooking food somehow makes them nutritionally inferior. See my take.

Q. Brian-

I’ve been hearing a lot recently about how cooking foods changes the nutrient profiles.  For example, when you cook meat, many of the proteins are killed.  My wife went to a nutritionist who recommended a whey protein that had not been heat pasteurized, thus keeping the proteins in tact.  How does this relate to your suggestions regarding a high protein diet?

The follow up question, as it relates, is what do you think about the Raw diet philosophy?  The Raw folks tend to be vegetarians which means they never eat “complete” proteins.  Isn’t eating complete proteins a foundational concept of good nutrition?

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Posted on November 7th, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre


Tips for Time Management – Part 2

Filed under: General Health

4. Grocery shop appropriately.

I wrote an entire blog post on this, and it is an area I emphasize with my clients as a few simple changes can make all the difference.

In a nutshell -

  • shop once, at most twice, per week
  • make a list and stick to it
  • make the list based on planned meals for the week
  • write your list in the order you are going to buy the items
  • shop the perimeter of the grocery store
  • don’t shop hungry
  • don’t shop with the kids
  • and if you really want to be anal, group your food on the conveyor belt according to where you will put them away at home

5. Making Meals In Bulk and Ahead of Time

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Posted on November 3rd, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre

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Tips for Time Management

Filed under: General Health

While this post is not exactly specific to nutrition, fitness or health in general, in reality learning to manage time appropriately can go a VERY long way in reducing every day stressors and improving our overall sense of well-being. Reducing stress is one of the most effective ways to improve overall health, so indirectly I think this ties in nicely with my general scope.

I like to think my time management skills are fairly good, as it is something I have read about and try to work on relatively consistently; but let’s be honest, I think we can all stand to improve in this area in some capacity. Myself most certainly included.

Here are the first 3 of the 6 tips I think are key to managing time and therefore creating the time to do other things – like exercise, read, meditate, spend time with your family or whatever else interests you.

1. Stop logging onto Facebook!

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Posted on November 1st, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre


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