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Teal pumpkins try to change Halloween for kids with food allergies

Oct 15, 2014 -- 2:31pm

(CNN) -- Halloween can be extra scary for kids with food allergies.


Chocolate is frightening if you're allergic to milk, and a candy bar with nuts can be deadly. With eggs, soy and wheat also common allergies in kids, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, finding treats without tricks can be a challenge on Halloween night.
That's why the Food Allergy Research & Education organization wants Halloween lovers to go teal this holiday.
Their Teal Pumpkin Project encourages people to place a teal-painted pumpkin outside their door if they're offering non-foods treats, such as small toys, stickers and crayons. A flyer can also be printed from the website.
The idea is taking off online. Food Allergy Research & Education's first Facebook post about the Teal Pumpkin Project, reached 2.7 million people in less than 72 hours, the organization reported. Posts about the project have been shared a combined 31,000 times. This year marks the first time the idea has been promoted nationally.


"The Teal Pumpkin Project is an easy way to make a big impact in your community. Food allergies can be life-threatening, and they affect 1 in 13 children in the United States. We are thrilled to see so many people embracing the Teal Pumpkin Project as a way to ensure kids with food allergies can enjoy a safe, fun Halloween experience just like their friends," says Veronica LaFemina, spokeswoman for Food Allergy Research & Education.
LaFemina says they are already starting to see photos of children with paintbrushes and teal pumpkins on doorsteps via Instagram and other social media channels. Families who are managing other diseases for which candy presents a problem, such as diabetes and celiac disease, have also shown support.
If you don't want to purchase non-food items, it is helpful to separate allergy-free candy from candy that may trigger an allergic reaction if you're handing out goodies on October 31. Cross-contamination is a concern, as many food allergies require only a small amount of the allergen to trigger a reaction.
No tricks this Halloween, just allergy-friendly treats


Tips for parents
Parents should also use extra caution when checking Halloween candy if their child has an allergy.
"Checking labels becomes very pivotal because during the holidays, including Halloween, when the manufacturers make those mini small-sized candies and they're often mass-produced on shared equipment," says Mireille Schwartz, the founder and CEO of the Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board. "Candy that's safe other times of the year might not be safe during Halloween."
Carrying an epinephrine auto-injector, which treats all anaphylaxis, is also a good safety measure. Schwartz recommends checking to see if the medication is up-to-date before leaving the house, as auto-injectors typically expire within one year.

 

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The link between fat and cancer

Oct 08, 2014 -- 3:05pm

From CNN.com/Health

 

 

"Obesity is a major, under-recognized contributor to the nation's cancer toll and is quickly overtaking tobacco as the leading preventable cause of cancer," Hudis and his colleagues at the American Society of Clinical Oncology write in a new position paper.
In fact, as many as 84,000 cancer diagnoses each year are linked to obesity, according to the National Cancer Institute. Excess fat also affects how cancer treatments work and may increase a cancer patient's risk of death, either from cancer or from other related causes.
The key word, Hudis says, is preventable. While we can't change the fact that we're all getting older (incidence rates for most cancers increase as patients age), we can change our weight through diet, exercise, sleep and stress management.


The link


In 2003, the New England Journal of Medicine published the results of a study that included more than 900,000 American adults. Researchers followed the healthy study participants for 16 years, and found the heaviest participants were more likely to develop and die from cancer than participants who were at a healthy weight.


After their analysis, the study authors concluded that excess fat "could account for 14% of all deaths from cancer in men and 20% of those in women."
Since then, research has simply strengthened the link between obesity and cancer. Studies have found a relationship between weight and the risk of as many as 12 cancers, says Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, including endometrial, colorectal, esophageal, kidney and pancreatic cancers.


A recent report published in the American Association for Cancer Research's journal predicted the top cancer killers in the United States by 2030 will be lung, pancreas and liver -- in part because of rising obesity rates.
The science behind it

"It's not enough to say there's an association between obesity and cancer. We need to know why," Hudis says. "With the why, we can do something about it."
Scientists are exploring several hypotheses on how excess fat increases a person's risk for cancer. The answer may be slightly different for each type of cancer, but the encompassing explanation seems to be that obesity triggers changes in how the body operates, which can cause harmful cell growth and cell division.
Many of these changes may be linked to inflammation. In general, inflammation occurs when your body is reacting to something out of the norm -- say a virus or a splinter in your foot. Obesity seems to cause chronic inflammation, which in turn may promote cancer development.
Take for example, Hudis says, hormone-sensitive breast cancers. Chemicals in the body meant to regulate inflammation also increase production of the hormone estrogen. And studies have shown excess estrogen can cause breast cancer tumors.

Fat tissue also produces hormones called adipokines, which can stimulate or inhibit cell growth, according to a fact sheet from the oncology society. If these hormones are out of balance, the body may not be able to properly fight cell damage.

Obesity can affect a cancer patient's outcome from diagnosis to remission, Hudis says.
Obesity-related pain or unbalanced hormone levels may distract patients from the early warning signs of some cancers. Fatty tissue can also make it difficult for doctors to see tumors on imaging scans. And a late diagnosis often means a lower chance for survival.
The relationship between cancer and obesity also matters after diagnosis. Cancer treatments, such as radiation or chemotherapy, may be hindered by a patient's size. If the patient needs surgery, studies show excess fat puts them at a higher risk of complications, infections and death.
Tumor Paint: Changing the way surgeons fight cancer


A recent study of 80,000 breast cancer patients found that pre-menopausal women with a BMI over 30 had a 21.5% chance of dying, compared to women with an average BMI who had a 16.6% chance of death.


Remaining obese as a survivor can also increase your risk of developing what's called a secondary cancer, the authors of this new position paper say.
What you can do to reduce your risk
In general, "people should be aware that overweight and obesity, as common as they are in our population, have serious consequences," Hudis says. "Cancer is really just another one."


Start reducing your risk now: Stay active. Eat nutritious foods that are low in calories. Get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Manage your stress levels. All these behaviors will help you reach a healthy weight.

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