THOMASVILLE — Runners and walkers, and even some folks in strollers and some four-legged participants at the end of leashes, hit the Thomasville streets Saturday morning for the fourth annual Live Better Pink Run 5K and Elite Challenge.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the pink-hued event is designed to help people start thinking about the disease. It also was established to promote fitness and a healthier lifestyle, and that helps to fight cancer, Dr. Esther Tan said.

“Obesity is associated with a lot of diseases, but it is also associated with cancer,” she said. “There is more and more of an awareness that obesity is associated with cancer. At least 12 cancers are associated with obesity and being overweight.”

Among the cancers that have been shown to have a link to obesity are breast, colon and ovarian.

What is alarming to doctors and researchers is the prevalence of cancer among younger people.

“More and more younger people are getting cancer and you wonder, what is the link between younger people and cancer,” Dr. Tan said, “and one of the reasons is obesity.”

For instance. Dr. Tan, a medical oncologist, pointed out that some 40-year-olds are getting diagnosed with colon cancer. Screenings for colon cancer are recommended for those 50 and older.

Also, obesity rates have hit nearly 40 percent for all adults 20 and older in the U.S. according to a 2015-16 National Health Center for Statistics study.

“It’s an illness,” Dr. Tan said. “Being obese is an illness.”

Dr. Tan also stressed the importance of screening and early detection in stopping cancer.

“It is very, very important,” she said. “There are a lot of controversies about screening but there is one cancer that is not controversial at all.”

Dr. Tan advised women as young as 20 to start becoming aware of breast cancer and if they find a lump to get it checked out. She also advises that women at age 40 or older start getting checked for signs of breast cancer.

Her aunt in Malaysia died from breast cancer because mammography is not as widespread there as it is in the U.S., she said.

“It’s important to get checked out,” she said. “We have mammography. Just go and get it done. I tell my patients and my students, mammograms save lives.”

Editor Pat Donahue can be reached at (229) 226-2400 ext. 1806.

Pink Run 5K winners:

Overall male — Daniel Cook

Overall female — Cammie Hungerford

Ages 1-9 — Charlotte Sikes

10-19 males — Douglas Hopkins

10-19 females — Ragen Bozeman

20-29 males — Nathaniel Thomas

20-29 females — Catherine Adams

30-39 males — Chris Holt

30-39 females — Jodi Stuckey

40-49 males — Chad Johnson

40-49 females — Beverly Johnson

50-59 males — Jeff Capps

50-59 females — Teresa White

60 and over males — Terry Gilligan

60 and over females — Nancy Herring

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