Entries in Childhood Cancer Awareness (2)


Research: Physical Activity May Help Kids' Grades Too

Ezra Shaw/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands) -- While physical activity is known to improve children's physical fitness and lower their risk of obesity, new research suggests it may also help them perform better in school.

Dutch researchers reviewed 14 previous studies from different parts of the world that looked at the relationship between physical activity and academic performance.  Their review is published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The data from the studies, "suggests there is a significant positive relationship between physical activity and academic performance," wrote the authors, led by Amika Singh of the Vrije Universiteit University Medical Center's EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research in Amsterdam.

While they didn't examine the reasons why the relationship may exist, the authors, citing previous research, said regular physical activity seems to be linked to better brain function. The effect on the brain could be the results of a number of factors, including increased flow of blood and oxygen to the brain as well as higher levels of chemicals that help improve mood.

This latest report comes at a time when schools across the country debate cutting physical education from their curriculum or have already eliminated it because of budget constraints, the desire to stress academics or a combination of both. There is also concern that physical activity in schools can be detrimental to academic performance.

But in addition to the latest research review, a 2010 literature review done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that out of 50 studies, more than half showed a positive association between school-based physical activity -- such as physical education, recess and extracurricular sports -- and academic performance, and about half found no effect. Only a few showed a negative relationship that could be attributable to chance.

Some of the research reported that concentration, memory, self-esteem and verbal skills were among the improvements noted in students who participated in school-based physical activity.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Forty-Six Mothers Shave Their Heads for Childhood Cancer Awareness

46 Mommas(WASHINGTON) -- When 10-year-old David Heard succumbed to cancer last winter after a two-year fight, he wrote a list of things he wanted his mother, Susan, to complete for him after he was gone. Wednesday evening, as his mother sits in a barber’s chair on a podium in Washington’s Union Square, she’ll strike from the list one of David’s items: Shave your head for cancer awareness.

“By shaving my head, I’m really fulfilling a promise I made to him,” Heard told ABC.

Susan Heard, along with 45 other mothers of children with cancer, will shed their locks as part of Shave for the Brave, an event run by 46 Mommas, an advocacy group for childhood cancer, and St. Baldrick’s Conquer Kids Cancer.

The group 46 Mommas, which takes its name from the fact that each weekday an average of 46 mothers across the U.S. will hear the diagnosis “Your child has cancer,” meets in D.C this week to bring awareness to childhood cancer and to offer support to the 2nd Annual Childhood Cancer Summit. 

The women are also in Washington on behalf of the Creating Hope Act, which they will present to the Congressional Pediatric Cancer Caucus on Friday.  The act would create incentives for pharmaceutical companies to develop childhood cancer treatments.

“The biggest obstacle with treating childhood cancer is there’s so many different types of cancer that the pool of patients is so small for each. It’s hard to do research when there are so few kids out there to test new therapies on, and the research interest is low because pharmaceutical companies are really not interested in investing in a drug that can’t be mass marketed,” says Heard.

Only 650 children are diagnosed each year with neuroblastoma, the cancer Heard’s son David had.  Even though each type of cancer may have a relatively small pool when compared with some adult cancers, the overall number of children with cancer is much higher.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio