American Cancer Society (ACS)

By: Ellen Scharaga

As Senior Vice President of Operations at OncoMed Pharmacuetical Services, I give back to the community through support of such organizations as The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America. I am a particularly strong supporter of the American Cancer Society (ACS), having volunteered with the organization in the past.

ACS, founded in 1913 as the American Society for the Control of Cancer by a group of New York City doctors and businesspeople, has been at the vanguard of eliminating cancer and promoting healthy styles since before the negative effects of cigarettes were recognized by the medical community at large. Now headquartered in Atlanta, ACS today holds some 3,400 offices throughout the U.S., managing a number of thrift shops to fund its operations.

The ACS website at offers valuable and user-friendly resources for learning about all types of cancer. The website also provides individuals with tools to efficiently find qualified caregivers and cancer support programs. The ACS also presents health findings that track the latest research on lifestyles minimizing the risk of cancer. A recent ACS article reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services have jointly issued new dietary guidelines. These new standards address deteriorating eating habits among the American public that have resulted in the majority of adults and one-third of children suffering from overweight or obesity issues. The new guidelines overlap with ACS Guidelines for Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention in stressing a balance between caloric intake and physical activity. In particular, the guidelines stress the benefits of eating vegetables and seafood in place of meats, including poultry. The ACS guidelines place additional emphasis on avoiding red and processed meats as a way of lowering cancer risk, as diet and levels of physical activity are second only to tobacco use as a cause of cancer-related mortality. A recent ACS study found that a third of all cancer-related deaths are attributable to a combination of weight, lack of physical activity, and poor eating habits. This certainly is a wake up call to many of us; we may have reduced cigarette smoking habits dramatically these past three decades, but other bad habits have snuck up and taken its place.