The power of the flower
Recently we celebrated Daffodil Day which was originally created by the Canadian Cancer Society in the
1950s and which has resulted in various cancer charities around the world now using daffodils as their fund
raising symbol. In Australia, Daffodil Day has become the largest national fund-raising event of its kind and the
theme for 2013 is all about growing hope for a cancer-free future.
Coincidentally, the daffodil is the national fl ower of Wales, where it is grown commercially to produce the drug
galantamine - used in the treatment of Alzheimers disease and other memory loss conditions.
Here, Daffodil Day also serves to highlight prevention and treatment strategies in regard to Australia’s number one
killer – cancer. Each year in Australia, more than 100,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed (this is in addition
to so-called non-melanoma skin cancer which accounts for about 440,000 extra cases) and more than 40,000
people every year will die from cancer. The number of cancer cases annually continues to grow and by the age of
85, one in every two Australians will be directly affected by cancer.
The good news is that while cancer is on the increase, death rates are actually falling (survival rates for common
cancers have risen by about 30%). More than half of all cancers can be successfully treated. However, not
surprisingly, early diagnosis and treatment is critical. (Check out the Cancer Council Australia website for a list of
Excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, the most common cancers in Australia are prostate, colorectal (bowel),
Improved treatments for cancer have meant greatly improved health outcomes but the greatest benefits will
undoubtedly come from the introduction of more effective prevention strategies.
According to Cancer Council Australia, each year in Australia more than 6000 deaths from cancer can be
attributed to three major risk factors: inadequate intake of fruit and vegetables, inadequate physical activity and
Australian obesity levels tripled between 1985 and 1995. Now, just over 15 years later, the situation is worse with
obesity among children a major concern. This places thousands of young Australians at risk of cancers , heart
The importance of cancer prevention by way of behaviour and lifestyle change is reinforced by research published
in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute which shows that once cancer is diagnosed, modification of diet or
the use of dietary supplements (such as vitamins or antioxidants) do not seem to alter the course of the disease.
Of course, tobacco is also a major cause of preventable disease. Unless current smokers quit, current death rates
Australia has been a world leader in tobacco control; the plain packaging of cigarettes is just one of the more
recent initiatives. But still thousands of people are dying prematurely as a result of active and passive smoking.
Tobacco is the only consumer product which, when used as directed, kills half of its consumers.
So, a few simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference to your health long term. For some helpful hints
on how to quit smoking for good, ask for the Staying a Non-Smoker fact card from one of the 1500 Self Care
Pharmacies around Australia – pharmacies providing the Pharmaceutical Society’s Self Care health information.
You can call 1300 369 772 for the nearest location or log onto the website www.psa.org.au and click on “Self
Care” then “Find a Self Care Pharmacy”. Fat and Cholesterol, Weight and Health, Fibre
and Bowel Health, Prostate Problems and Sense in the Sun are some other titles in the series
that can help you stay healthy longer.
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