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30 Ways to Revitalize Your Lunch Break

Lunchtime doesn't have to be bland or boring, just as it doesn't have to be a frenzied time to run errands or multitask. Our printable calendar provides 30 ideas to add a little adventure to your midday break. Click here to download and print your Adventurous Lunch Break Calendar. (You need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download this PDF.) If you think your friends or family members might benefit from these heart-healthy tips, share this calendar with them by clicking the "Share" button below.Article Source: http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1336

5 Healthier Mac and Cheese Recipes

Macaroni and cheese is a comfort food staple, but let's face it: With all the cream, butter, and cheese (and artificial ingredients, if you're making the boxed variety), it's not the healthiest. But there's good news: With just a few swaps and additions, mac and cheese can get way healthier. Here's how.

1. Buffalo Chickpea Mac and Cheese This vegan macaroni dish is a little unconventional, but the additions are definitely worth the effort. The noodles are topped with crunchy romaine lettuce, spicy Buffalo roasted chickpeas, and creamy (non-dairy) ranch-style dressing. 2. Creamy Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese Butternut squash and Greek yogurt make this pasta dish super creamy and comforting without, you know, cream. A sprinkle of whole-wheat breadcrumbs on top adds some delicious crunch, and (bonus!) it freezes perfectly for last-minute dinners.  3. Broccoli-Basil Mac and Cheese This healthy casserole is topped with breadcrumbs made of (wait for it... ) broccoli. The cheesy sauce includes butternut squash, cherry tomatoes, and Greek yogurt. So it practically has more veggies than noodles, making it a dish you can feel good about chowing down on.   4. Vegan Gluten-Free Mac and Cheese The gluten-free, vegan "cheese" sauce this recipe uses gets its cheesy texture from nutritional yeast, making it a super healthy alternative to a classic roux. It also calls for lots of roasted garlic, so the end result is so flavorful, no one will know they're eating vegan and gluten-free—unless you tell them. 5. Bacon and Pea Macaroni and Cheese In this smokey, bacon-y mac and cheese recipe, bright green peas add some much-needed vegetables while creamy Greek yogurt replaces some of the cheese. It's a healthier option on pretty much all fronts. Naturally, we love it.

Originally published November 2014. Updated April 2017.

14 Ways to Cook Fish This Summer If You Don't Have a Grill

Nothing says summer like slapping fresh fish on the grill and enjoying a cold one with your friends on a patio. No grill, you say? Not to worry. There are plenty of ways to make a tasty summer meal with the kitchen equipment you already have, and we’ll prove it with these 14 recipes. From crisp salmon to juicy shrimp, fire up anything but the grill and get cookin’.

1. Broiled Striped Bass You can still get color and char on fish by popping that pan in the broiler. Essentially an upside-down grill, the broiler is our No. 1 solution to making fish taste just like you cooked it outside on your deck. This simple striped bass is covered in sweet tomatoes and briny olives. 2. Cajun Mahi Mahi With Mango Salsa This sweet and spicy fish gets its kick from Cajun seasoning, balanced out by a pineapple-mango salsa. Searing mahi mahi gives it a crispy exterior, and best of all, the whole meal takes 15 minutes, tops. Summer dinners are about to be easy AF. 3. Seared Salmon Searing is a quick way to get some color and crispy crust on a piece of fish. Plop a piece of salmon in a pan and let it cook without flipping for longer than you think. Serve with a warm lemon butter cream sauce. 4. Poached Cod in Tomato Sauce Poaching fish sounds tricky, but it’s another one of those simple cooking methods you need to try this summer. This mild cod dish is cooked in bubbling tomato sauce until tender. 5. Coconut Fried Pineapple Snapper As far as fried food goes, this snapper dish is fairly light thanks to just six ingredients. Dredge snapper in flour, dip in an egg-and-pineapple-juice mixture, then coat in coconut flakes. Serve with a side of roasted veggies, cauliflower rice, or a healthy fruit salad. 6. Oven-Fried Catfish A fish fry seems like classic summer food, but try making it a little healthyish next time by oven-frying. You’ll still get that crispy, battered coating, yet there’s no grease from deep-fried oil. 7. Baked Shrimp Boil A seafood boil just sounds like summer, but if you’re not in the position to cook outdoors, the answer is to throw everything on a sheet tray. Seriously, when have shrimp, sausage, potatoes, and corn ever steered you wrong? 8. Broiled Miso Cod With Asparagus Satisfy a craving for Japanese food sans takeout with this miso cod recipe. Veggies get tossed in a sesame oil sauce, and the fish is coated in a miso glaze. Make sure to factor in time to let the fish marinate for maximum flavor. 9. Braised Catfish Steaks Even if you don’t have a traditional Korean stone pot you can braise fish like a pro. Lug out any thick pan or dutch oven to make these sweet and spicy catfish steaks. 10. Steamed Red Snapper Like grilling, steaming is a simple cooking method—which gives you more time to focus on the gorgeous weather. This Jamaican-style red snapper is steamed in a spicy broth and served with tender veg. 11. Superfood Baked Salmon One pan, Whole30 approved, and 20 minutes from start to finish? We’re sold. Add salmon, Brussels sprouts, lemon slices, and a blueberry-balsamic mixture to a sheet pan, and bake for 15 minutes. Pro tip: Heat them under a broiler for 2 minutes to make everything extra crispy. 12. Poached White Fish in Tomato Basil Sauce Frozen white fish fillets sound meh, but with just a few extra ingredients, they’re practically a gourmet meal. Cook the fillets in chicken stock, white wine, and garlic, and throw in cherry tomatoes and fresh basil… 30 minutes on the stove and you’re good to go. 13. Baked Lemon Butter Tilapia Tilapia is a pretty mild fish, so consider this your go-to summer party staple—even picky eaters will enjoy it. Mix butter, lemon juice and zest, and garlic, then drizzle the mixture over tilapia. With a quick garnish of salt, pepper, and parsley, the fish comes out light, flaky, and just a little tangy. 14. Baked Honey Cilantro Lime Salmon Dress up your usual oven-baked salmon recipe with garlic and a honey-lime glaze. Once you dress the fish, all you have to do is pop the sheet pan in the oven for 25 minutes. Go ahead, pour yourself a drink while you wait.

 

Hershey getting health conscious, cutting chocolate calories by 2022

The Hershey Co. is promising to make major changes in the calorie count of some of its chocolate snacks.

The company announced last week that it wants to cut the calories in 50 percent of its standard and king-size confectionary snacks by 2022, and include easier-to-read nutrition labels on the front of 100 percent of its standard and king-size packaging by the end of next year.

>> Read more trending news

Hershey CEO Michele Buck said in a statement that the calorie campaign is part of the company’s efforts at “providing the choice and transparency” about its chocolate products that customers want.

“These steps will provide an even wider range of portion options and clear information to help them select treats that fit their lifestyles,” Buck said.

>> Got a question about the news? See our explainers here

About 31 percent of Hershey’s standard and king-size snack products contain 200 calories or less, the company said, and 70 percent already have front nutrition labels.

Chipotle to debut first dessert

Chipotle plans to add a dessert item to its menu this year.

The Denver-based Mexican grill announced Tuesday it will begin testing a fried dough dessert next month, Business Insider reported

>> Read more trending news

Chipotle’s buñuelos, a traditional Mexican dessert, are fried tortillas sprinkled with honey, cinnamon and sugar. They’re to be served with caramel-apple dipping sauce.

“It’s simple to make and requires us to add just a few additional ingredients,” Chipotle CEO Steve Ells said, according to Yahoo. “They’re delicious and complement our menu nicely.”

It’s unclear which locations nationwide will offer the dessert first. 

Although Chipotle announced last year that it would be adding a dessert item to the menu, the buñuelo comes as a surprise, as many speculated the restaurant chain would debut churros as its first dessert.Chipotle is known for being slow to change its menu. According to Business Insider, the addition of buñuelos will be the company’s third major change in 20 years.

The most recent addition was chorizo, which Chipotle began offering in October. 

The company also announced that sales at restaurants that have been open at least a year rose 17.8 percent in the first quarter, and revenue increased 28.1 percent to $1.07 billion. Chipotle’s stock rose, and Ells said the increases indicates a “strong start” to the year.

>> Related: Here's why Chipotle doesn't sell queso

Stranger pays for disabled woman's groceries

A woman who recently moved to an Iowa town experienced the generosity of locals firsthand.Jill Zimmerman, 35, told The Des Moines Register that she moved to Bettendorf at the beginning of April. She was grocery shopping at Hy-Vee on April 18 when she realized at the checkout stand that she had forgotten her electronic benefit transfer, or EBT card. Zimmerman didn't have any other way to pay for her groceries.The store manager offered to hold her groceries for her while she returned home to retrieve her EBT card but Zimmerman said she probably wouldn't be able to make it back, as she is disabled and has mobility issues. She took the bus to the store.

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That's when Marsha White, 59, stepped in to assist. She was behind Zimmerman in line and asked if she could pay for Zimmerman's groceries. At first Zimmerman resisted, but once she realized that White was genuine and sincere in her compassionate offer, she accepted. Zimmerman hugged White and thanked her for buying the groceries.White told The Des Moines Register that she had two friends who were dealing with health issues who received good news recently, so she wanted to pay it forward by helping out Zimmerman.Reports of the random act of kindness have gone viral on social media, inspiring others to share their stories.

101-year-old woman wins 100-meter dash at World Masters Games

She came. She ran. She conquered. 

A 101-year-old woman from India won gold in the 100-meter dash at the World Masters Games in New Zealand.

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Man Kaur may have been the only athlete competing in her age division in the race, but she finished in 74 seconds. Not bad for someone who only started running at 96, according to Sports Illustrated.

The World Masters Games are held every four years by the International Masters Game Association for athletes over 30, in middle age and seniors, according to the organization’s website.

The next games are scheduled in Japan’s Kansai region in 2021, when some 50,000 athletes are expected to participate.

 

11 Epic Fitness Retreats That Belong on Your 2017 Calendar

Day-to-day workouts are fun and all, but sometimes you need to couple that sweat session with a little extra culture, music and, uh, wine. That’s why fitness retreats and festivals exist—they’re all about balance, meeting like-minded people that turn into lifelong friends, and having a helluva good time. (After all, you’re still on vacation.) These are the ones to book this year, whether you’re looking for a quick one-day getaway or an epic multiday sleepover. If you do sign up (and you should!), just be sure to warn your friends and followers that you're about to serve up a serious dose of FOMO.  East Coast 
Surf Yoga Beer When: July 14-16Where: Hunter Mountain, NYWhat: Just a two-hour drive from New York City sits Hunter Mountain, where you and a group of friends (because yes, they will be your BFFs by the end of the weekend) will kick off a "detox-to-retox cycle," as SYB likes to call it. You’ll do as much as you can outside, including swimming in the lake, yoga on the lawn, and hiking (maybe even ziplining) in the woods. And since you’re on vacation, you'll have ample opportunity to imbibe a few beers—because, you know, balance. You’ll even head back home feeling more centered: There are presentations on things such as "how to chill out about food" and creating healthy habits, so you can get in the groove of starting the day with a glass of lemon water or taking deep breaths in times of stress. When the weekend is over, start saving your pennies for SYB’s international getaways in drool-worthy destinations like the Amalfi Coast and San Pedro, Belize. Swoon. Prices start at $400; surfyogabeer.com Glamping Yoga Retreat When: June 30-July 2Location: Finger Lakes, NY What: Hiking. Nature. Yoga. If those things sound right up your alley—but roughing it in a sleeping bag, eh, not so much—then this retreat is for you. While nestled in the Finger Lakes region of Central New York, you’ll flow through four yoga classes (three vinyasa style and one restorative) and set off on scenic hikes through Ithaca’s Buttermilk Falls State Park. Rather than returning to a not-so-comfy campsite, you’ll sip wine under the stars, eat s’mores by the campfire, and sleep in fully furnished safari tents with beds and plush robes (!). When it’s time to refuel and recover, expect farm-to-table dining and complimentary access to saunas and a steam room at August Spa by Firelight Camps. You know, everything that ~summer dreams~ are made of. Prices start at $648; fingerlakesyogascapes.com Spartan Week When: May 14-21Where: Miami, FL What: OK, we know this one’s a bit of an investment, but it’s worth it for you CrossFit diehards and obstacle race gurus. For one week, 1 Hotel South Beach will host the first-ever Spartan Week and challenge you on everything from Spartan obstacles to unleashing your meditative potential. Created in partnership with Joe Di, director of fitness and training for Spartan Race, you’ll choose between a three- and four-night stay and participate in a range of activities—even morning Hurricane Heats are available—and follow it up with recovery classes and post-training meditation. When all’s said and done, you’ll walk away with a Spartan Week medal and custom t-shirt so you can proudly sport your accomplishments on the flight home (or at your next Spartan Race). Prices start at $1,500; 1hotels.com 
Midwest 
Adventure Mindful Running Retreat When: August 10-13, August 17-20Where: Boulder, CO What: For those ready to hone their trail-running skills—and get a taste of training at altitude—this retreat in Boulder, CO, is pretty badass. Organized by professional trail runner Timothy Olson, two-time winner and record holder of Western States 100-mile race, you’ll not only learn how to effectively navigate trails without burning out your energy but also spiff up your healthy eating, yoga, and meditation skills (and walk away with a sweet swag bag). If you ever thought running was boring before, your mind will be forever changed after this trip. Prices start at $650; adventuremindful.com Soul Camp When: June 24 Where: Chicago, ILWhat: While most fitness retreats focus on a specific sport or activity—yoga, hiking, biking, etc.—Soul Camp looks at you from a 360-degree perspective, which is pretty awesome because, well, we’re not just what we do. So when you sign up for either a day-only or sleepaway camp, just know you’ll be taking a whole range of classes: nutrition, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, public speaking, social activism, fitness, and more. Each day there’ll be about 30 teachers, speakers, and instructors to learn from, and each night there’s a host of talent shows, late night discos, s’mores, and live entertainment. It really is like summer camp for grown-up kids. Just don’t be surprised if you walk away feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world. Prices start at $99; soul.camp Yoga on the Mountain You might also like {{displayTitle}} READ When: August 11-13Where: Snowmass, CO What: Yoga, yoga, and more yoga. That’s what you can expect at this new, three-day boutique yoga festival from Power Yoga Retreats set in Snowmass, CO, just a short 20-minute drive from Aspen. There are more than 60 classes to choose from, including basics like introduction to Ayurveda and more complex options like hypnotic flow. When you’re not moving through sun salutations—or, LBH, enjoying that savasana—there’s live music, meditation, hiking and, yes, even a party or two. Because finding your zen includes letting loose a little, right?Prices start at $150; gosnowmass.com Soulstice When:  July 13-16Where: Sundance, UTWhat: Tucked away in Utah's Wasatch mountains, Sundance Mountain Resort is everything you ever imagined a rustic cabin weekend could be, and Soulstice isn't your average fitness retreat. This four-day, three-night, all-inclusive trip has unique fitness activities such as outdoor aerial yoga, stand-up paddleboard yoga in a geothermal spring crater, reformer Pilates, BOSU fitness classes, and sunrise vinyasa on the mountaintop. It's the kind of experience that gives off those feel-good vibes you only get when surrounded by your soul sisters—whether you've known them your whole life or you just met them. Sure, it's on the pricey side, but bonus offerings such as floral arrangement classes, salt spa experiences, glam touch-ups pre-garden party, and live music (among others) make it worth it. Trust us, you'll never regret taking a good-for-your-soul getaway. Prices start at $1,250, soulstice.com
West Coast 
REI Outessa When: July 14-16, August 18-20, September 22-24Where: Kirkwood, CA; Mt. Hood, OR; Waterville Valley, NH What: Adventurous ladies, put your hands up. REI has launched a three-day outdoor adventure program designed to get women outside without worrying about who’s judging them, which means no boys allowed. (Hey, sometimes you just need your girls to create a supportive learning environment.) You’ll customize the long weekend from start to finish, starting with accommodations (anything from resort condos to glamping with a concierge to DIY camping) and activities. So whether you’re into trail running, rock climbing, paddleboarding, or one of the other 200 options available, you’re pretty much guaranteed to find someone else with similar interests—and an REI professional guide to help you learn more. In your downtime, there are plenty of chef-prepared meals, adult bevvies, inspirational speakers, and evening entertainment to go around. Plus, you’ll walk away with a sweet goodie bag packed with products and gear.Prices start at $799; outessa.com Wanderlust Squaw Valley When: July 20-23Where: North Lake Tahoe, CA What: You may think you’re going to Wanderlust for the yoga, and while that’s great and all, you’ll walk away with so much more than an improved downward dog. When you’re not flowing through various yoga styles—including aerial and stand-up paddleboard versions—there’s a whole range of activities to choose from. Kayaking, river rafting, mountain biking, slacklining—you name it, and it’s all available in the scenic mountains of Squaw Valley. Of course, there’s plenty of food (hello, delicious barbecue), wine, and live music to be enjoyed as well. Prices start at $104; wanderlust.com Virgin Festival of Sport When: October 13-14Where: San Francisco, CA What: This San Francisco retreat calls itself the "Coachella of sport,” so you know it’s going to be one heck of a good time. It’s one of four festivals Virgin Sport is hosting around the world (find the others in East London, Westminster, and Oxford), and each one is customized to the host city. For those staying stateside, expect a lot of those infamous San Fran hills on your distance and short runs. You won’t just be running, though—there’s plenty of group training, local food, music, art, and culture to be discovered too. You may even find some cycling and boot camp-style classes to sign up for because it's all about challenging yourself here. Prices start at $79; virginsport.com

 

Dog food recalled after samples test positive for euthanasia drug

A dog food company has issued a nationwide recall after some samples tested positive for the euthanasia drug pentobarbital.

Party Animal said in a recent news release that it is recalling two lots of its Cocolicious dog food after a Texas retailer said a customer had brought samples of the food to a testing lab, which detected the drug.

The affected products, manufactured in 2015, include 13-ounce cans of Cocolicious Beef & Turkey dog food (Lot #0136E15204 04, best by July 2019) and Cocolicious Chicken & Beef dog food (Lot #0134E15 237 13, best by August 2019).

>> Read more trending news

"The safety of pets is and always will be our first priority," Party Animal said in a statement. "We sincerely regret the reports of the discomfort experienced by the pet who consumed this food."

Customers who have the recalled products "should return them to the place of purchase and will of course receive a full refund," the company said.

"Party Animal wishes to emphasize that we have submitted many recent lots of our beef flavors for testing and all have tested negative for any pentobarbital," the company added. "We have also had extensive discussions with our manufacturer regarding the potential cause of the reported contamination of the 2015 lots, and we will continue with such discussions even as we await testing results for the 2015 lots. In order to ensure adherence to our commitment to the safety of pets, we are also actively re-examining our manufacturing processes."

Read more here.

Widespread Hype Gives False Hope To Many Cancer Patients

After Michael Uvanni’s older brother, James, was diagnosed with a deadly form of skin cancer, it seemed as if everyone told the family what they wanted to hear: Have hope. You can beat this, and we are here to help.

The brothers met with doctors at a half-dozen of the country’s best hospitals, all with impressive credentials that inspired confidence.

Michael Uvanni was in awe when he visited the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, one of world’s most respected cancer hospitals. It was like seeing the Grand Canyon, said Uvanni, 66, of Rome, N.Y. “You never get used to the size and scope.”

Even the MD Anderson logo on buses and buildings — with “Cancer” crossed out in red, above the words “Making cancer history” — made the family’s battle seem winnable.

“I thought they were going to save him,” said Uvanni, an interior designer.

Patients and families are bombarded with the news that the country is winning the war against cancer. The news media hypes research results to attract readers. Drug companies promise “a chance to live longer” to boost sales. Hospitals woo paying customers with ads that appeal to patients’ fears and hopes.

“I’m starting to hear more and more that we are better than I think we really are,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society. “We’re starting to believe our own bullshit.”

The consequences are real — and they can be deadly. Patients and their families have bought into treatments that either don’t work, cost a fortune or cause life-threatening side effects.

“We have a lot of patients who spend their families into bankruptcy getting a hyped therapy that [many] know is worthless,” Brawley said. Some choose a medicine that “has a lot of hype around it and unfortunately lose their chance for a cure.”

Although scientists have made important strides in recent years, and many early-stage cancers can now be cured, most of those with advanced cancer eventually die of their disease.

For Uvanni, hope gave way to crushing disappointment when his brother’s health declined and he died from metastatic melanoma in 2014.

“You get your hopes up, and then you are dropped off the edge of a cliff,” said Uvanni. “That’s the worst thing in the world.”

Caregivers like Uvanni can suffer prolonged grief and guilt if their loved ones are riddled with side effects and don’t survive as long as the family expected, noted Holly Prigerson, co-director of the Center for Research on End-of-Life Care at Weill Cornell Medical College.

For decades, researchers have rolled out new cancer therapies with great fanfare, announcing that science has at last found a key to ending one of the world’s great plagues, said Dr. Vinay Prasad, an assistant professor of medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. When such efforts fail to live up to expectations, the cancer world simply moves on to the next big idea.

Hyping early scientific results — based on lab tests or animal studies — can attract investors that allow researchers to continue their work. Positive results can lead biotech firms to be bought out by larger drug companies.

“It’s in the interest of almost every stakeholder in the health system to be optimistic about these therapies,” said Dr. Walid Gellad, co-director of the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing at the University of Pittsburgh.

Of course, there is plenty of money to be made.

The U.S. spent nearly $88 billion treating cancer in 2014, with patients paying nearly $4 billion out-of-pocket, according to the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Spending on cancer, a disease that most afflicts the aging, is predicted to soar as people live longer.

“While many people are trying to make patients’ lives healthier and longer and better, there are others that are exploiting their vulnerability,” said Dr. Leonard Saltz, chief of the gastrointestinal oncology service at New York’s Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Others argue that the excitement about cancer research is justified. A spokeswoman for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an industry group, said cancer patients have good reason for optimism.

“We continue to see great strides in identifying the genetic mutations and related factors that can drive the seemingly random formation of abnormal cells in cancer,” spokeswoman Holly Campbell said in a statement. “In the last decade, we’ve seen a number of scientific advances transform the landscape of many cancers.”

Promises To Cure Abound

Even the country’s top scientists sometimes get carried away.

In 1998, Nobel laureate James Watson — who co-discovered the structure of DNA — told The New York Times that scientists would “cure cancer in two years” using drugs that block tumor blood supplies. At that time, the drugs had succeeded only in mice.

In 2003, the director of the National Cancer Institute, Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, announced a goal of “eliminating suffering and death due to cancer by 2015” by better understanding tumor genetics.

Last year, when President Barack Obama announced the Cancer Moonshot, which aims to accelerate and better coordinate research, he said, “Let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.”

In a recent interview, von Eschenbach acknowledged he didn’t communicate his goal well.

“We all fall into that trap,” said von Eschenbach, now a senior fellow at the Milken Institute, a health and public policy think tank. “We’re offering what we have, but making it appear that it’s more than what it is.”

It’s easy to see how patients’ hopes are raised, said Timothy Turnham, former executive director at the Melanoma Research Foundation, an advocacy group. Researchers are frequently overly enthusiastic about early discoveries that have little chance of leading to a new drug.

“There is a disconnect between what researchers think is statistically significant and what is really significant for patients,” Turnham said. “Patients hear ‘progress,’ and they think that means they’re going to be cured.”

A Marketing Blitz

Uvanni said his brother’s experience was nothing like the sunny images in TV commercials, in which smiling cancer patients hug their grandchildren, hike in the mountains and lead dance classes.

A TV commercial for the Bristol-Myers Squibb drug Opdivo projects the words “a chance to live longer” on the side of skyscrapers, as a captivated crowd looks on. In much smaller type, a footnote reveals that lung cancer patients taking Opdivo lived just 3.2 months longer than others.

A TV ad for Merck’s Keytruda features reassuring images of a smiling, healthy patient hugging her family — not fighting for breath or struggling to walk. Although the commercial notes that the people in the ad are portrayed by actors, the commercial claims the drug provides “a chance for a longer life. It’s Tru.”

“Your heart sinks when you see those ads,” Uvanni said. Seeing the family depicted in the ad, he said “makes you wonder if they’re going down the same path that we did.”

The Keytruda ad notes that 71 percent of patients given the drug were alive “at the time of patient follow-up,” compared with 58 percent of those who received chemotherapy. The ad doesn’t mention that the “time of follow-up” was 11 months.

“It’s not false; it’s just incomplete,” said pharmacist Harold DeMonaco, a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston. “They don’t give patients or the patients’ family enough information to make a reasonable decision.”

In an interview, Merck senior vice president Jill DeSimone said that the company aims to be responsible with its advertising, noting that the Keytruda ad reminds patients to talk to their doctors. “The physician is the ultimate decider on treatment,” DeSimone said.

In a statement, Bristol-Myers’ senior vice president Teresa Bitetti said that Opdivo ads play “an important role in educating patients about new treatment options and fostering informed conversations between patients and their doctors.”

Hospitals also have drawn criticism for overstating their success in treating cancer. In 1996, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, a for-profit chain, settled allegations from the Federal Trade Commission that “they made false and unsubstantiated claims in advertising and promoting their cancer treatments.”

The company’s current commercials — dozens of which are featured on their website — boast of offering “genomic testing” and “precision cancer treatment.”

The commercials don’t tell patients that these tests — which aim to pair cancer patients with drugs that target the specific mutations in their tumors — are rarely successful, Prasad said. In clinical trials, these tests have matched only 6.4 percent of patients with a drug, according to Prasad’s 2016 article in Nature. Because these drugs only manage to shrink a fraction of tumors, Prasad estimates that just 1.5 percent of patients actually benefit from precision oncology.

In a statement, Cancer Treatment Centers of America said, “We use national media to help educate cancer patients and their families about the latest diagnostic tools and treatment options. … All of our advertising undergoes meticulous review for clinical accuracy as well as legal approval to ensure we tell our story in an informative and responsible manner, and in compliance with federal guidelines.”

Spending on ads for hospitals that treat cancer soared 220 percent from $54 million in 2005 to $173 million in 2014, according to a 2016 article in JAMA Internal Medicine. Ads for Cancer Treatment Centers of America accounted for nearly 60 percent of all total cancer center advertising.

Targeting Melanoma

For more than a decade, the Food and Drug Administration approved no new treatments for metastatic melanoma. Patients typically died within a year of diagnosis.

Since 2011, however, the FDA has approved 11 new treatments, including several immunotherapies, which aim to harness the immune system to fight cancer. Last year, doctors leading a clinical trial announced that the median survival of patients taking the drug Keytruda had grown to two years. Forty percent of patients were alive three years later, according to the clinical trial, presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Researchers have tested immunotherapies against a variety of tumors, leading to approvals in lung cancer, kidney cancer, bladder cancer and others.

Such success has led doctors to label cancer immunotherapy as a “game changer.” N­­ewspapers and magazines call it a “breakthrough.” And hospitals laud them as “a miracle in the making.”

Yet these treatments — which were initially assumed to be gentler than chemotherapy — can provoke fatal immune system attacks on the lungs, kidneys, heart and other organs.

And there are no approved immunotherapies for tumors of the breast, colon, prostate and pancreas.

Only about 10 percent of all cancer patients can expect to benefit from immunotherapy, Prasad said.

Uvanni’s brother — who tried immunotherapy, as well as a number of other approved and experimental treatments — survived 3½ years after his diagnosis. That might lead many oncologists to describe his story as a success.

Uvanni sees no reason to celebrate. He wanted more than short-term survival for his brother.

“I thought we were going to have a treatment where we’d at least have a good block of quality time,” Uvanni said.

But treatments meant to control the cancer only made him sick. Some caused flu-like symptoms, with fever, chills and shakes. Others left him nauseated, unable to eat or move his bowels. Others caused dangerous infections that sent him to the emergency room.

“I hope that if something like that happens to me,” Uvanni said, “I would be strong enough to say no to treatment.”

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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