7 lifestyle changes confirmed by science to help lower cancer risk

New research by Newcastle University in the UK has put common and well-known cancer reduction recommendations to the test. The study, published in the journal BMC Medicine in November, tried to validate the 10 guidelines for reducing cancer issued by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) in 2018.

Dr Eugene Kwan, in Hong Kong, said studies have shown the significant impact of regular exercise in preventing some types of cancer. Photo: Dr. Eugene Kwan
Researchers tested these guidelines on 94,778 British adults with an average age of 56. They found that higher adherence to cancer prevention recommendations that encourage a healthy lifestyle resulted in lower risk for in all cancers, and for some individual cancers, such as in the breast, intestine, kidney, esophagus, ovary, liver and gallbladder. For some, the risk was lowered by 30 percent.

What are the 2018 WCRF/AICR cancer prevention recommendations? And how do you make them part of your healthy lifestyle? Here’s what we found out:

1. Be a healthy weight

Keep weight as low as possible within a healthy range throughout your life, and avoid weight gain (measured as body weight or waist circumference) throughout adulthood.

For a long and healthy life, eat, sleep, feel and exercise the right way

BMI, or body mass indexcalculates how much body fat you have based on your weight and height, and is measured using your weight in kilograms (or pounds) divided by your height in meters (or feet) squared.

A BMI of 20-25 is considered healthy for most adults.

Keep weight as low as possible within a healthy range throughout your life to lower cancer risk. Photo: Shutterstock

2. Be physically active

Dr Eugene Kwan, a family doctor in Central, Hong Kong, said studies have shown a significant effect of regular exercise in preventing some types of cancer, particularly breast and colon cancer.

He explains how physical activity can have protective effects.

How short bursts of exercise can protect against cancer, heart disease

It can help with weight management and reduce the risk of obesity, which is a known risk factor for some cancers.

It can also strengthen the immune systemit helps identify and destroy early cancerous cells before they grow and spread, as well as enhance the production and activation of natural cancer-killing cells.

Regular physical activity can help regulate hormone levels, including estrogen and insulin, Kwan added.

Dr Anna Herby is a dietitian and nutrition education specialist at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in the United States.

Higher estrogen levels have been linked to an increased risk of breast and endometrial cancers. Regular exercise lowers circulating estrogen levels, which reduces the risk of hormone-dependent cancers.

Plus, exercise can improve insulin sensitivity, reducing the risk of insulin-related cancers like colorectal and pancreatic cancer, Kwan said.

Physical activity also maintains the health of the digestive system, he added, reducing the contact time of any potential carcinogens in our colon and lowering the risk of colorectal (bowel) cancer.

Finally, physical activity has anti-inflammatory effects; inflammation of the throat is associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Better than ever: she’s feeling the benefits of a whole-foods, plant-based diet

3. Eat a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits and beans

These foods are key elements of a whole-food, plant-based diet, which can be powerful for reducing cancer risk, says Dr. Anna Herby, a dietitian and nutrition education specialist at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in United States.

By focusing on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumeyou significantly increase your intake of antioxidants that help your body neutralize cancer-causing free radicals, he explains.

Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage) are especially powerful for helping your body fight cancer cells.

Diets high in fiber content help to eliminate excess hormones associated with breast and prostate cancer and, in the case of colorectal cancer, fiber reduces the ability of cancerous compounds to interact with cell linings in our digestive tract, he added.

You may want to skip the snack aisle, to limit consumption of fast foods and processed foods high in fat, starch, or sugar. Photo: Shutterstock

4. Limit consumption of fast foods and other processed foods high in fat, starch or sugar

This includes many prepared foods, snacks, bakery products, and desserts and confectionery.

Herby says such foods are often low in nutrients and high in calories, leading to weight gain, which can increase cancer risk. These foods can also contain additives and chemicals that are not naturally found in whole foods, which can interfere with our health.

Gene study links red meat diets to colorectal cancer

5. Limit consumption of red and processed meat

WCRF and AICR recommend eating no more than three portions of red meat, such as beef, pork or lamb, per week. This equates to about 350g to 500g (about 12 to 18 oz) cooked weight of red meat. The guidelines also state to eat little, if any, processed meat.

Herby says red and processed meat are some of the foods most associated with increased cancer risk.

6. Limit consumption of sugary drinks

To lower your risk of cancer, choose water over alcoholic or sugary drinks. Photo: Shutterstock

This includes many soft drinks, energy drinks and juices with added sugar. Drink mostly water and unsweetened beverages instead.

7. Limit alcohol consumption

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen, which means it carries the highest risk of causing cancer, along with substances such as asbestos, radiation and tobacco, Kwan said.

The link between alcohol consumption and various types of cancer is well established, he said. It is a risk factor for cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, breast and gastrointestinal tract.

A year without alcohol: how my life changed

It is worth noting that any type of alcohol increases the risk of developing cancer, he added.

And as the risk increases with higher levels of drinking alcohol, although moderate or low levels have been associated with increased risk. Therefore, any amount of alcohol consumption contributes to an increased likelihood of developing certain types of cancer.

While stopping or reducing alcohol consumption does not immediately result in a reduction in cancer risk, over time, the risk gradually decreases.

8. Do not use supplements for cancer prevention

High-dose dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention. Aim to meet your nutritional needs through food alone.

Very few mothers are breastfeeding. These women are doing something

9. For mothers: breastfeed your baby, if you can

Breastfeeding is good for both mother and baby. This recommendation is in line with the advice of the World Health Organization, which recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for six months, and then until two years of age or more, along with appropriate complementary foods.

10. After a cancer diagnosis, follow the recommendations, if you can

Ask your health professional about what is right for you, according to the guidelines.

Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans dominate the whole, plant-based diet, which may be effective for reducing cancer risk. Photo: Shutterstock

Newcastle are studying the results

The researchers from Newcastle did not include guidelines on avoiding cancer-fighting food supplements and breastfeeding, as there was insufficient data for these categories. The study did not include people with an initial cancer diagnosis, so the 10th guideline was also excluded.

Participants received a score based on their adherence to the top seven recommendations. The average score was 3.8 out of 7. During the study period, 7,296 participants (eight percent) developed cancer.

We need new ideas to beat cancer, say leading experts. Here’s what they suggest

For each recommendation followed, participants reduced their cancer risk by seven percent. In addition, each one-point increase in compliance score is associated with a:

  • 10 percent lower risk of breast cancer

  • 10 percent lower risk of colon cancer

  • 18 percent lower risk of kidney cancer

  • 16 percent lower risk of esophageal cancer

  • 22 percent lower risk of liver cancer

  • 30 percent lower risk of gallbladder cancer

#lifestyle #confirmed #science #cancer #risk
Image Source : www.scmp.com

Leave a Comment