Thanks to Leah, our Dietetic Intern, for this post!
If you’ve seen any AICR materials, there’s a good chance you’ve benefited from the knowledge of Dori Mitchell, MS, RD. Whether editing nutrition articles or answering questions on the Nutrition Hotline, Dori has been a part of the AICR team almost since it was founded, 1985 to be exact. Her interest in AICR’s mission was sparked in graduate school and today, she continues to educate the public about how food, weight and physical activity affect cancer prevention, treatment and recurrence.
Q: Why were you interested in working for cancer prevention and for cancer survivors?
A: As a new and young registered dietitian, I was eager to learn more about the emerging diet-cancer research and then write nutrition education articles and develop cancer protective recipes.
Q: What makes your work challenging in educating the public about cancer?
A:There are a couple things. One, the laboratory science is progressing so fast it is challenging to keep up with it. But the second part is how frustrating it is when I don’t have a definite answer and people need answers right now. Sometimes, I just wish the science that directly benefits humans would go a little faster so we could know more to help those who are suffering and are cancer survivors.
Q: What has kept you motivated to continue to work in the diet and cancer prevention field?
A: Shortly after joining AICR, I was asked to work on the Nutrition Hotline team. I was thrilled. I’ve enjoyed talking to many people from all over the United States. It is especially satisfying to help those who are fighting cancer and their families. I too personally have been touched by cancer since my mother died of lung cancer over ten years ago; so I really can relate to the fears and frustrations of many callers. It is important to validate that what they are already doing is good and give them information that is accurate.
Q: You’ve helped develop and launch the New American Plate Challenge. What can you tell us about that?
A: It was exciting because we had great success with our eight participants. They all lost healthy amounts of weight in 3 months. Our evaluative processes showed that they developed new habits and skills. The New American Plate Challenge proved to be an effective program to lose weight using the New American Plate eating approach.
Q: And what role do you hope the NAP Challenge can play in preventing cancer?
A: To take on any sort of challenge, especially a weight reduction challenge, you have to be motivated. People are especially motivated if they have experienced cancer in their own life or in the life of a loved one. I like be a source of motivation too by educating the public on the dangers of excess weight. The research is quite convincing that being overweight is linked to many cancers.
Q: One last thing, what’s a nutrition philosophy that you think all people should live by?
A: AICR’s motto: eat smart, move more, and stay lean. If people can do that, then we hopefully will see cancer reduction.