MICHIGAN CITY | Radiologist Dr. Margaret Cuomo challenged Indiana and its cancer rate, which she said was 9 percent higher than the national average.
Cuomo, author of "A World Without Cancer," gave the final presentation of the 60th season of the Purdue North Central Sinai Forum on Sunday at Elston Middle School.
She spoke about the need to improve cancer prevention in the United States and provided statistics about the “status quo” of the disease in Indiana.
Indiana’s cancer mortality rate is 9 percent higher and the incidence of lung cancer is 19 percent higher than national averages, Cuomo said.
“Indiana has a high prevalence of smokers compared to rest of country,” she said.
Cuomo also cited Indiana’s obesity rate – the eighth highest in the country – as a reason for the state’s high incidence of cancer.
“A significant cancer burden exists here among Indiana residents that requires more targeted efforts,” she said. “There are numbers that we need to improve.”
Cuomo said that 80 percent of Hoosiers “fail to eat the daily recommendation of fruits and vegetables.”
“We should begin learning about good nutrition in elementary school when we’re young and continuing throughout the college years,” she said.
Cuomo suggested the medical community could improve cancer prevention by reducing the number of unnecessary CAT scans and adding cancer prevention to medical school curriculum, but emphasized a person's role in preventing cancer by eating nutritiously, exercising, reducing stress and eliminating hazardous chemicals from a home.
Cuomo said bisphenol A, parabens and perchloroethylene are prevalent in food and beverage containers, personal grooming products, dry cleaning and even food.
Cuomo urged the audience to reduce contaminants at home; eat organic; investigate ingredients in cleaning and personal care products and medicine; ban smoking in homes; and use stainless steel and glass for food storage.
“Collaboration and teamwork are essential for cancer prevention," she said. “Shouldn’t we expect to live our lives without cancer?”
Cuomo is the daughter of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and sister of the state’s current Gov. Andrew Cuomo.