New Recommendations on Physical Activity

Physical ActivityToday is World Cancer Day, and I’d like to call attention to some facts from the World Health Organization about how physical activity can affect cancer risk.  I’ve also listed in a separate post the work that we are doing at Susan G. Komen for the Cure to address the world cancer crisis.

As the United Nations World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control, I regularly explain the importance of including cancer in the global health agenda.  With so many pressing health problems facing governments, some will argue that fighting cancer is too complicated or too expensive.  That the focus should be on cheaper and less complicated problems.  But the risk of cancer can be reduced by simple measures such as stopping smoking, having a balanced diet, and being physically active.

To mark World Cancer Day 2011, the World Health Organization has released new recommendations on physical activity.  The Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health state that regular physical activity reduces the risk of not only breast cancer but also colon cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension, and depression.

The recommendations are the latest tool produced by WHO and its partners aimed at reducing the global burden of non-communicable diseases, known as NCDs, which are responsible for more than 35 million deaths annually, or over 60 percent of global mortality.  Developing countries in particular are suffering greatly from such diseases, with over eight million premature deaths from NCDs occurring in developing countries. In Africa alone, deaths from NCDs are expected to increase 25 percent by 2020 if no action is taken.

I am very pleased that the UN General Assembly is placing increased importance on cancer and other non-communicable diseases.  In September, the General Assembly will convene a high-level summit on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.  Chronic diseases have had a major impact on the world population and put a special burden on women who are usually the primary caregivers.  The 2011 summit presents an historic opportunity to change how the world deals with cancer and other NCDs, which kill more people than any other cause of death.

The new WHO recommendations on physical activity can be accessed here.

About the author

Nancy G. Brinker has written 27 articles for Susan G. Komen® | Blog

Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker founded Susan G. Komen on a promise she made to her sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer. She led a relentless breast cancer information and awareness campaign and succeeded in breaching the silence surrounding the disease, fundamentally changing the way it is talked about and treated. She started the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® and also pioneered cause-related marketing, both of which have had a profound impact on the breast cancer movement. An outspoken champion of all people with breast cancer as well as those who are at risk for developing the disease, Ambassador Brinker takes her cause and her passion all over the world, seeking the fresh input and international partnerships essential to ending breast cancer forever. Among her many leadership roles, Brinker served as U.S. Ambassador to Hungary from 2001-2003 and as U.S. Chief of Protocol from 2007-2009.

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