We talked to Ernest Hawk, M.D., Vice President of Cancer Prevention and Population Science, about some of the cancer prevention successes from this year. Here’s what it means for you.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that over the next three years it will make changes to the Nutrition Facts label on packaged foods. Important information like serving size and calories will appear larger.
In addition, added sugar will appear as a separate item. Currently, the Nutrition Facts label just reports how much sugar is in an item. This sugar could be added or naturally occurring.
Why it’s important: “Sugar is hidden in a lot of processed foods, such as yogurt, bread, cereal and almost any other food that comes in a package. This will make it more obvious. It makes the Nutrition Facts label a lot more user-friendly,” says Lindsey Wohlford, employee wellness dietitian at MD Anderson.
The Food and Drug Administration extended its oversight to all tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, cigars, hookahs and other nicotine products. This means the FDA can review the ingredients, manufacturing processes and health impacts of these products.
The new rule also prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. E-cigarettes are smokeless devices that may look like cigarettes, but can also resemble pens or USB memory sticks. Users inhale a vapor of liquid nicotine that comes in many flavors.
Why it’s important: “The flavors in e-cigarettes make them appealing to young people. But e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which is addictive and harmful,” Hawk says/“This is an important step in preventing a new generation of non-smokers from becoming addicted to nicotine and moving on to traditional tobacco products.”
CDC changes recommendations for HPV vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that boys and girls age 11 to 12, and up to age 14, get two doses of the HPV vaccine. The previous recommendation was for three doses. Teens and young adults age 15 to 26 years old should still get three doses.
The HPV vaccine protects against HPV-related cancers. This includes cervical, anal, penile, vaginal and vulvar and throat cancers. The vaccine is given at age 11 or 12 because that’s when it provides the best immune response to the HPV virus.
Why it’s important: “The HPV vaccine is safe and effective protection against HPV-related cancers,” Hawk says. “Reducing the number of shots needed to protect children against cancer will make it simpler for parents to take action.”
Request an appointment at MD Anderson's Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center online or call 877-632-6789.