Celebrity chef and former Masterchef winner Dr Saliha Mahmood Ahmed demonstrates a unique and ingenious breast cancer awareness campaign at the London Halal Food Festival, the world’s biggest Halal food festival, at London Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Park, E20, on the 24-25 September at 12:30-1.00pm each day.
Dr Saliha Mahmood Ahmed, NHS Doctor and food author, is heading a campaign which puts her culinary skills to good use in the fight against breast cancer in the UK – by making bread on the main stage of the London Halal Food Festival on 24-25 September at 12.30-1pm each day, on behalf of London’s NHS, Breast Cancer Now and The British Islamic Medical Association.
Dr Saliha, who won Masterchef in 2017, will be demonstrating her “healthiest recipe” for bread – but it’s actually a way to encourage women from communities where their culture may prevent them from talking about their bodies to check themselves for breast cancer.
These cultural taboos can prevent women from examining themselves for any early signs of breast cancer, discussing the subject with friends and loved ones, or even their doctor.
By using simple self-examination techniques using bread dough and not mentioning breasts or body parts, Dr Saliha’s “healthiest recipe” is an ingenious way to impart a serious and useful health message to various ethnic and minority communities across Britain and improve the rates of earlier cancer diagnoses.
Recent research has shown that cancer awareness is particularly low amongst the Muslim community in the UK, with minimal uptake levels for breast screening. Ahead of Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, in partnership with the NHS in London, Dr Saliha will demonstrate the vitally important “bread exam” and get her message out there to help combat breast cancer amongst this community and others. Dr Saliha Mahmood Ahmed says of the campaign: “The Bread Exam’ visually demonstrates how women should check their breasts for new or unusual changes. I hope it provides some reassurance and shows the simplicity of self-checking, plus all the movements performed as part of my “healthiest recipe” are designed to detect any changes in breast tissue. I really hope it helps women detect early signs of breast cancer and seek help from their GP as soon as possible if they notice anything unusual.”
Sanjeet Johal, Breast Screening Recovery Programme Director for the NHS in London said: “Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK. A woman’s risk of getting breast cancer goes up as they get older, with about 4 out of 5 breast cancers found in women over 50 years old. If you’re a woman aged between 50 and 71, you will be automatically invited by a letter in the post for breast screening every three years. We encourage women not to delay and take up their screening appointments when they are invited as cancer is easier to treat when it’s caught at an earlier stage.”
Janine La Rosa, Co-Director of the London COVID Legacy and Equity Partnership, and Strategic Head of Equality and Inclusion for the NHS in London added: “There is a need to address health inequalities and barriers to healthcare access through meaningful engagement with communities. The bread exam is an innovative way of reaching individuals and communities in a culturally sensitive manner to help increase women’s chances of detecting breast cancer early.”
Dr Salman Waqar, GP and Vice President of the British Islamic Medical Association: “Innovative means of reaching communities who experience health inequalities are vitally important in tackling the disparate outcomes in cancer. The Bread Exam is an empowering tool, giving communities the agency to speak in ways that are meaningful to them, and is able to deliver high impact conversations that we hope will improve early diagnosis and save lives.”
Although Dr Saliha is debuting her “healthiest recipe” live at a predominantly Muslim-focused event, she is hoping the message can also reach other communities where there is stigma surrounding talking about breasts or breast cancer.
Following her live demonstrations on 24-25 September at 12:30-1:00pm after each session Dr Saliha will be taking part in Q&As, at the NHS stand B45, which will also include breast screening advice and literature from the NHS and charity Breast Cancer Now.
London Halal Food Festival https://www.londonhalalfoodfestival.com/