C-Change Campaign Promotes Healthy Living to Cut Cancer Risk

Many people believe a cancer diagnosis is inevitable, according John Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society.

A recent study estimates that an alarming percentage of people don't know cancer is the most preventable life-threatening disease affecting Americans, Seffrin said.

In order to help change that mindset, NASW, as part of C-Change, is helping spread clear, simple messages about healthy living and screening so people can take charge and reduce their own risk of cancer.

C-Change is a coalition of 130 organizations that works to eliminate cancer as a major public health problem. NASW has previously collaborated with C-Change to produce a video outreach campaign about Cancer Patient Navigation programs.

NASW Executive Director Elizabeth J. Clark is vice chair of the C-Change Nominating Committee.

"This year, we will help educate our members and constituents about a cancer prevention communications initiative coordinated by C-Change and the Ad Council," Clark said. "All C-Change members will help promote the unifying message that there are four simple things everyone can do each day to reduce their risk of cancer."

They are: eat well, be active, don't smoke and avoid tobacco, and get screened.

While the suggestions may seem like common sense, a recent C-Change survey estimated that only a little more than half of all Americans over age 35 are knowledgeable about the potential risk of cancer. In addition, only one out of two people are aware of ways to reduce the risk.

In order to better educate the public, C-Change and the Ad Council came up with four evidence-based messages that they believe are most effective.

Gail Woods Waller, communications director at NASW, said the association will do its part by incorporating the "Reduce the Risk" campaign in NASW's public image drive, including relevant "Help Starts Here" public service ads that appear in print and online.

For example, a small graphic from the campaign message points out that a healthy diet and exercise can reduce the risk of cancer. Small steps, such as parking the car farther from the planned destination, are among the simple ways to increase exercise.

According to C-Change, early screening is estimated to reduce breast cancer deaths by up to 25 percent. Another message suggests readers talk with their doctor about recommended screenings for breast and other major cancers.

Public service announcements for the campaign feature some famous faces as well. A series of PSAs showcase former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, co-chairs of C-Change.

Organizers said by providing the member organizations of C-Change with a focused list of proven messages for dissemination, the effort has the potential to reach the masses and help turn the tide on cancer in the U.S.