Living Healthy

Bob Griese Rallies Foes Against Cancer

Bob Griese knows what it takes to overcome a challenge, both on and off the football field. From back-to-back Super Bowl victories in the glory years of the Miami Dolphins to tragically becoming a single parent after his wife’s death, Griese has risen to the occasion.

In addition to his work as one of network television’s most respected football analysts, Griese is rallying forces to combat an opponent he knows terribly well—cancer.

“Cancer is going to be cured, it’s just a matter of enough time, money, research and effort,” says Griese, whose wife Judi succumbed to breast cancer in 1988. Three years later, Griese’s long-time coach at the Dolphins, Don Shula, lost his wife Dorothy to the same disease.

A member of the Board of Advisors at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute in Tampa, FL, Griese says everyone can join the fight. Through the creation of a public service announcement, he’s calling for participation in clinical research, which holds the key to defeating the nation’s No. 2 killer.

“We’re not clinical researchers, we can’t go in and find a cure,” Griese explains, “but this is a way people can help. They can be a participant and, if not help themselves down the road, help a loved one who will benefit from their participation.”

Through clinical research, doctors and scientists work to develop potential cancer cures and new therapies. Blood and tumor specimens from patient-volunteers can help investigators determine whether a new drug or different combination of treatments stops or inhibits the growth of a certain type of cancer. Every step in the intricate process narrows down the various pathways to a cure.

Griese videotaped his call for participation in clinical research in a Moffitt Cancer Center laboratory. “Here, scientists study genetic fingerprints that will lead to personalized treatment based on a patient’s own tumor,” he says in the announcement.

“How can you help? Encourage participation in clinical research trials. Research is the answer to curing cancer.”

Reflecting on the need for clinical research participants, Griese wonders how many people lost to cancer 20 years ago might be survivors today.

“The scientists have done some wonderful work,” he says. “They can target some of the types of cancers and be more specific to your body and to your needs.”

After his wife’s death from breast cancer and Dorothy Shula’s, Griese began volunteering on the board of the Don Shula Foundation, which is dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer.

“If you can’t participate financially, you can help in other ways. We all do what we can do.”

Tom O’Brien, President and CEO of AAA Auto Club South, serves on the Moffitt Cancer Center Board of Advisors with Griese.

Articles courtesy of H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. For more information on cancer care, research and prevention, please visit or call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488).

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Bob Griese Biography

Bob Griese

After a stellar 14-year career with the Miami Dolphins, Bob Griese has been providing commentary and analysis of network television football coverage.

Originally from Evansville, IN, Griese played quarterback at Purdue and led the Boilermakers to the 1967 Rose Bowl championship. He joined a struggling Miami Dolphins franchise later that year, and in between married college sweetheart Judi Lassus.

Griese’s poise, leadership and ingenious play-calling earned him the nickname of the “thinking man’s quarterback” as he led the Dolphins to three consecutive Super Bowl appearances and championships in the perfect 17-0 season of 1972 and again in 1973.

Bob and Judi had three children, Scott, Jeff and Brian. The youngest of the three, Brian followed his father’s footsteps into the NFL and now is a quarterback for the Chicago Bears.

Griese retired from the Dolphins in 1980, and from 1982-86 provided analysis for NBC Sports’ NFL coverage. Since then, he’s been with ABC, coming into America’s homes as an expert commentator on college football.

Brian was just 12 years old when his mother died of breast cancer in 1988. He and his father co-authored, with Jim Denney, the inspirational book Undefeated, the account of their triumph over unbelievable odds on and off the field.

Bob Griese remarried in 1994. He and his wife, Shay Whitney Griese, live in Jupiter, FL.

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10 Steps to A Healthier You in 2007

1. Maintain a healthy weight. Proper nutrition in the form of a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and grains can help promote good health and reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, hypertension and obesity.

2. Make healthier food choices. Eat more fish and less meat, more fruits and vegetables, low or non-fat dairy products, and foods low in fat and salt. Use olive or canola oil for cooking.

3. Stay active and exercise regularly. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day, five or more days a week.

4. Do not use tobacco in any form.

5. Stay current with recommended screenings. For women, this means a pelvic exam and Pap smear every year and periodic breast self-exams starting at age 18, and clinical breast exams and mammograms every two to three years after age 30. Men should have a PSA test every year starting at age 40 for black men and 50 for white men. Both men and women should have periodic cancer-related checkups starting at age 18 and a colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50. Note: Women or men at high risk for cancer due to family history or symptoms need more frequent screening.

6. Maintain an ideal cholesterol level. The total should be under 200, with the HDL (good) cholesterol being over 45 and the LDL (bad) being under 100. The triglyceride level should be under 150.

7. Maintain normal blood sugars. Diabetes is on the rise in the U.S.

8. Wear a seatbelt. Seatbelts reduce the risk of death and serious injury in auto accidents.

9. Nurture yourself. Go to church, spend time with friends, relax, enjoy the arts, make time to do things you enjoy.

10. Manage stress and avoid bad relationships. Jobs and family problems are the biggest sources of stress. Unremitting stress can lead to depression and even suicide.

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Caution: A Clinical Pharmacist’s
Advice for the Health Conscious

With a $250 billion pharmaceutical market blanketing the nation with information and advertisements about dietary supplements, an H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute clinical pharmacist offers simple advice when counseling patients: “Err on the side of caution.”

“Safety should be on the mind of anyone considering taking dietary supplements, especially when they’re already using prescription medications,” explains David Craig, Pharm.D., of Moffitt’s Integrative Medicine Program in Tampa. “Don’t believe that more is better.”

Concerns from Health Care Professionals

Dr. Craig’s role at Moffitt is to consult and advise patients on their choices for nutritional and dietary supplements, often referred to as complementary and alternative medicine. He and a growing number of physicians and other health care professionals are increasingly concerned, if not alarmed, about the potential for adverse drug interactions between prescription medicine and over-the-counter dietary supplements.

While medical researchers methodically try to discern the potential for over-the-counter supplements to react with each other and with prescription drugs, a pervasive marketing campaign has persuaded an estimated 130 million Americans to take dietary supplements, notes Dr. Craig.

Newspaper and magazine advertising, TV sales pitches and a plethora of industry websites are pushing sales of herbs, vitamins and other dietary supplements ever higher. More than 60% of cancer patients nationally are using some sort of complementary or alternative medicine or therapy.

“The Internet has been a catalyst, adding fuel to the fire,” says Dr. Craig. “People know a lot more medical information because it’s so available. But it can be a problem if they don’t know how to interpret the information.”

Advertising Designed to Sell, Not Educate

Most of the information touting the curative qualities of herbs, vitamins and supplements is designed to make a sale—not necessarily to educate, he adds. “People who have seen commercials or advertisements for prescription drugs will sometimes ask their physicians to prescribe the medications because they think they may have the condition noted in the ad, when actually the physician has not diagnosed the condition. That’s where the real problem lies.”

Complicating matters is the debate within the medical community itself. “If five people look at the same study, you could get five different opinions,” says Dr. Craig.

Healthful Advantages vs. Interactions

To be sure, there is evidence of healthful advantages to some supplements, Dr. Craig says. “Glucosamine has been shown to help with osteoarthritis; garlic for lowering cholesterol; St. John’s wort for treating moderate depression; ginkgo biloba for memory and cognition enhancement.”

But any of these supplements can interact with prescription drugs. For example, we now know that St. John’s wort can interfere with cancer chemotherapy. We also know that some herbs or vitamins can induce a specific metabolic pathway that can interact, for example, with oral contraceptives or chemotherapy drugs. Dr. Craig urges anyone taking supplements to be extra cautious and to consult his or her health provider, especially if prescription medications already are being used.

As a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center, Moffitt is committed to evaluating the benefit of nutritional supplements used in cancer treatment or management of symptoms. The goal is to provide scientific, evidence-based services that have been proven through clinical trials.

Dr. Craig promotes active dialogue with patients as well as his peers about the potential for improvement along with the possibilities of adverse reactions. “One patient who came in for an evaluation was already taking 29 supplements. The potential for an interaction with his cancer treatment is something that you don’t want to risk.”

And when a health-conscious shopper decides to shop for a supplement, “he goes into the store and there are 30 to 40 garlic products on the shelves. How do you choose? There are no standards.”


Dr. Craig’s advice is to follow a common-sense approach and use moderation.

“If you take something, even vitamins, often enough and in high enough doses, you’re going to have problems with it. We know vitamin A can be damaging, even toxic, to the liver in high volumes for long periods,” he notes.

Consumers also should approach “all natural” products with caution, Dr. Craig stresses. “Typically, natural doesn’t always mean safer. There are a lot of natural compounds, like arsenic and cyanide, that can kill you with a very small dose.”

“Err on the side of conservatism,” he says. “Safety really should be the foremost goal...and remember, more is not always better.”

Article courtesy of H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute. For more information on cancer care, research and prevention, please visit or call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488) or 1-800-456-7121.

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