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Healthy Habits May Actually Help

Posted 1/9/2014

Posted in

  This is a slightly changed chorus to a well-known song. We all know about, and I have written many times about, suggestions that diet and exercise and limited alcohol and not smoking (and wearing your seat belt although that is never included in the studies) may lower cancer risk and improve prognosis. This always seems like good advice, but the trouble remains the possibility of increasing our guilt and self-blame if we don't stay healthy. Would the cancer have come back if I had gone more often to the gym? If I never had a glass of wine, could I have stayed well? And, of course, there is never a way to know the answers.

  On balance, it seems smart to know the recommendations and try, within reason, to develop healthy living habits. Whether or not they really make a contribution to cancer health, we know that they help with overall health and cardiac conditioning. This is a report from HuffPost about a study done at the University of Arizona that once again suggests that our choices may make a difference.

Cancer Prevention Guidelines Really Do Lower Risk Of Cancer, Study Finds 

You've definitely heard the advice before: Exercise, maintain a healthy weight, eat healthfully and don't drink too much alcohol if you want to keep your cancer risks low. And now, a new study shows that following this advice really does help lower your risk of cancer.

Researchers from the University of Arizona found that postmenopausal women who most adhered to the official cancer prevention guidelines from the American Cancer Society had a lower risk of developing and dying from cancer, as well as a lower risk of dying from any cause over an average eight-year period.

"The message is simple and clear: If you want to reduce your risk for cancer, even later in life, eat a healthy diet, be active daily, avoid or limit alcohol, and don’t smoke," study researcher Cynthia Thomson, Ph.D., R.D., professor of public health at the university, said in a statement. "Our results support the ACS guidelines for cancer prevention. Certainly, efforts to identify complementary factors that can reduce risk further should be supported as well, because diet and activity alone do not account for the majority of risk."

The cancer prevention guidelines specifically call for maintaining a healthy weight throughout your lifetime, eating healthfully (including limiting red/processed meats, eating whole grains over refined grains and eating five or more servings of produce daily), limiting alcohol (one drink per day or fewer for women) and exercising at a moderate to vigorous level for at least a half-hour five days a week.


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