A sensible diet, physical activity, avoiding smoking and moderation of alcohol consumption all can help prevent the onset of cancer, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention says.
“Hopefully, have a life where you are not abusing substances, and it’s not just alcohol and cigarettes, it can be drugs,” Sheila Pinette said. “Good things will come to people who treat their bodies right.”
Pinette also encourages people to schedule regular preventive screenings, such as mammograms to detect breast cancer and colonoscopies to detect colorectal cancer.
Pinette mentioned the lifestyle practices, listed on the Maine CDC website, that people should use to guard against cancer: Have a diet that is rich in vegetables, whole grains and fruits, and low in processed and red meats. Thirty minutes a day of exercise is advisable, she said. Don’t smoke – the Maine Tobacco HelpLine (800-207-1230) can help people quit. Alcohol consumption should be moderate – up to a drink a day for women and two for men. Alcohol consumption has been linked to oral cavity, esophageal, liver, female breast and colorectal cancers. And finally, get preventive screenings for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50 – meaning all baby boomers. All female boomers should have a breast cancer mammogram every year or two, and, up to age 65, they should undergo cervical cancer screening.
There’s one reference point that cannot only aid people who are guarding against cancer, but also can help if they become afflicted. The Maine Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan, known simply as the Maine Cancer Plan, is intended to minimize the impact of cancer. The Maine Cancer Consortium comprises people from public and private organizations involved in all aspects of cancer prevention, control and care, and since 1999 has created five-year plans to create a comprehensive cancer-control plan in the state.
The 2011-2015 Maine Cancer Plan has four sections: the burden of cancer in Maine, overarching issues affecting cancer in Maine, the cancer continuum and working together to change cancer in Maine.
Jessica Shaffer is familiar with all of this. Shaffer is program manager for the Maine Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan, and program director for Maine Colorectal Cancer Control.
Though it is primarily intended for medical, public health and other professionals, individuals with a personal interest in cancer are encouraged to use the plan to identify ways that they can become involved, Shaffer said. She cautions that the information contained in the plan is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
How does the plan help boomers?
“The plan establishes goals to reduce the burden of cancer in areas that can be particularly relevant to baby boomers living in Maine,” Shaffer said. “For example, the plan outlines shared goals in increasing screening rates for breast and colorectal cancers, two of the most common cancers affecting Maine baby boomers. Most baby boomers should include screening cycles for both of these cancers as part of their regular preventive health care, and having an established framework for increasing awareness of the importance of these screenings is intended to reduce the number of Mainers affected by these cancers, as well as improve the quality of screening and diagnostic care.”
Shaffer added that the Maine Cancer Plan outlines specific priorities and objectives for both cancer rehabilitation and survivorship and end-of-life care, all of which are situations that baby boomers may experience for themselves or in the process of caring for a loved one.
The plan is available for download at the Maine CDC Comprehensive Cancer Control Program website (www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/population-health/ccc/cancer-plan.shtml).
“Though not widely promoted to the general public, it is frequently utilized by public health professionals as a guiding document for prioritizing, integrating, and enhancing Maine’s efforts across the cancer continuum,” she said.
The Maine Cancer Plan can be utilized as a resource for Maine cancer data and help professionals better-understand state priorities for reducing the burden of cancer in Maine, as well as identify specific strategies that they or their organizations may employ to reduce cancer incidence, improve cancer screening, or enhance the quality of care for cancer patients and survivors, Shaffer said.
Larry Grard is a staff writer at Current Publishing.
A CLOSER LOOK
The Maine Comprehensive
Cancer Control Plan can be accessed online at
Among the resources it lists are:
The Maine Cancer Consortium
Maine Cancer Registry
Maine Breast and Cervical
Maine Center for Cancer Medicine & Blood Disorders
CancerCare Center of York County
Maine Cancer Foundation
Maine Coalition to Fight
Maine Breast Cancer Coalition
Cancer Community Center
The Patrick Dempsey Center
for Cancer Hope & Healing