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End Your Summer on a Healthy Note

This week marks the end of this summer’s #HealthAhead conversation. Every Monday, #HealthAhead has been spreading the word for good health, wellbeing, and healthy habits that might help reduce the risk of developing cancer. The tips and stories you have shared have been invaluable.  We hope the information available through this forum will serve you well beyond the summer. Here is a round-up of each week’s health stories, along with some of the best social media contributions.

To kick off, we hosted a Google hangout on Barriers to Healthy Habits, gathering representatives of the American Cancer Society (ACS), the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) and GE Healthcare. You chimed in with questions for our panel via twitter, using the #HealthAhead and #TacklingCancer hashtags. Jason Morgan from GE Healthcare set the ball rolling with a question about the links between obesity and rising cancer rates in the USA, leading to an insightful conversation.

“The most important thing we can do to reduce our risk of cancer is to watch our weight,” said Colleen Doyle, Director of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the American Cancer Society. “We need to be eating better, we need to be more active. Both of those things have a tremendous impact on […] your weight and also your risk of cancer.”

The topic of healthy eating, particularly to help keep cancer at bay with a good diet, was expanded upon the following week. We discussed a piece of research that suggested many adults continue to remain unaware of the links between diet and cancer, with figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) stating that obesity has nearly doubled since 1980.

But diet is only half of the story when it comes to keeping fit. The following Monday we covered exercise. With overwhelming evidence to suggest that regular physical activity lowers the risk of developing cancer and heart disease, we looked at the benefits of physical exercise and shared tips on how to squeeze a workout into an otherwise hectic schedule. As always, the conversation carried on with the #HealthAhead hashtag, and some excellent advice was shared by all on our Twitter and Facebook pages.

Speaking of hectic schedules, the next story in our series addressed the problem of combining an active lifestyle with a typical working week. As it turns out, using a lunch break to exercise and ward off cancer or heart disease is more straightforward than one might think.

Do you have a gym where you work? Or do you have a walking or running team with your colleagues? Share how you stay healthy at work using #HealthAhead#HealthyHabits #HealthyLiving #Cancer #CancerRisk #CancerAwareness #CancerPrevention #Health #GEHealthcare #WorkHealthy #HealthyOffice #GetFit #instafit

While it is essential to know how to stay healthy and prevent the onset of disease, it is also vitally important to know what to watch out for should things go wrong. With our next story, about learning the body’s language, we raised awareness of the most common signs and symptoms of cancer. No one knows your body better than you, and knowing how to check yourself for unusual lumps or moles could lead to earlier diagnosis, and earlier treatment.

To most, summer means Sun. Our next story shed some light on the risks of too much Sun exposure, exposed some commonly held misconceptions about the Sun’s rays and skin cancer, and shared some helpful tips on staying safe while making the most of the summer weather.

“When I first read the story See the Signs, Save Your Skin, it brought tears to my eyes. In early July I was diagnosed with melanoma and couldn’t help but think I could have prevented this,” says Kathleen Poulos, a sun loving California girl. “It’s so important that we protect our skin and really get to know it, be on the lookout for new and changing moles. I’m a nurse and never thought the little pink spot on my cheek was melanoma.”

Last week, we held our looking glass up to perhaps the unhealthiest habit of all: smoking. We attempted to pick apart the mystery of nicotine addiction, and looked at different ways to quit smoking. In what can be a fierce battle against the body’s cravings, the advice that was shared on our social media pages could prove very helpful indeed to those trying to kick the habit.

We hope that, having read through our weekly stories, you end this summer wiser and healthier than when it began. What was your highlight of the #HealthAhead conversation? Are there any tips or topics you want to discuss that we haven’t covered? Join us on Facebook and Twitter, where the conversation continues, using the hashtag #HealthAhead.