I love Hallowe'en. It's really not the candy (although that definitely put Hallowe'en in my good books as a child!) but something about the fall weather, cold nights, the crisp smell of the air and creepy ghouls just ticks all the boxes for me. And who doesn't love an excuse to get dressed up?!
This week, there have been plenty of scary stories in the news, and they're not even Hallowe'en related. It all kicked off with the scary-sounding headlines announcing that 'processed meats cause cancer'. To me the scariest thing about this, though, is how the news outlets are once again mis-reporting health & science issues. Yes, the WHO have classified processed meats in a category that also contains smoking and sun exposure because all those things are proven to cause cancer. They're not substances that, as The Guardian says are 'the most carcinogenic'. No -- they're things that have the most proof that they can increase the risk of cancer in humans. There's a biiiiig difference. Here's a handy little chart I dug up when I was doing some reading up on what the whole meat-scare thing was actually about:
I love the part at the bottom--an important note--'substances in the same category can differ vastly in how much they increase cancer risk'.
And if you were reading many of the articles, like I was, you'll probably have noticed that underneath lots and lots of scary-sounding statistics was a sentence or two that said 'having the occasional breakfast fry up or bacon sandwich won't hurt you'. So, as always, everything in moderation (including taking the media at face value!).
All of this got me thinking, though, that there are a lot of scary stories about health these days that are actually 100% true and that the media should focus on more. Obesity, sedentary lifestyle and stress are huge health hazards -- way more so than the once-in-a-blue-moon crispy bacon strips I have for brunch.
1) In 19 of the 34 OECD countries, the majority of the population is now overweight or obese. (healthhabits.ca)
2) Fewer than one person in four eats at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. (womenshealthmag.com)
3) One in six women say they would rather be blind than overweight (msn health & fitness). Now, I'm not saying that being overweight is good, it puts us at risk for all sorts of things but to prefer blindness? That's a sad indictment of the fat-shaming, body-beautiful culture of the world.
4) Stress is the number one cause of chronic illness and increases the risk of diabetes, obesity and stroke. (www.businessinsider.com)
5) Excessive sitting is a key risk factor in heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer and is also linked to obesity and early mortality. (juststand.org)
Yikes! Now those things actually scare me. As an office worker who definitely sits too much, feels the stress of the job pretty often and doesn't always get her five-a-day, I'm not exactly feeling like the healthiest person reading those stats.
The important thing, though, is to be aware of these factors. That automatically puts me in a better position to do something about it -- ignorance may be bliss but it would be pretty short-lived in this case. So, in addition to what I do every day to try to keep healthy, here's my commitment to make tomorrow a healthier day:
- I will download the Stand Up app and use it to help get me up from my desk and walking around more.
- I will go for at least a 15-minute walk at lunch time.
- I will use my lunchtime walk to buy salads and fruits for lunch for the rest of the week.
- I will go to bed on time.
- I will sign up for the meditation workshop I have been waffling about.
Did you know those stats? How do you rate for risk factors and what do you do to combat them?