Reduce Cancer Risk: Healthy Living Steps to Take
Oct 30, 2015 05:35AM
● By MARSHA R. SAKAMAKI
Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of previously normal cells. The disease is complex. Reducing one’s risk is not. The fact that the plan is simple doesn’t mean that it’s easy. For many people, it likely means working hard at changing certain lifestyle behaviors. To quote an old phrase, “Nobody ever said that life is easy.” Changing behaviors won’t guarantee that cancer will never occur. However, what is clear is that it will reduce the risk of developing it.
Many of the lifestyle changes are not surprising, as they are often recommended for a variety of health issues. Because we’ve heard them before, it may be easy to dismiss them; however, they have been proven to be helpful over time. The September issue of the Harvard Health Letter lists the changes that are worth putting some serious effort into.
Lose weight - How does weight affect cancer? For most cancers, the risk increases because of the effects on hormones and changes in the immune system. The good news is losing weight reduces the risk. Pick a weight that is realistic and achievable. Avoid fad diets. Develop a plan. Absolutely avoid “yo-yo” diets where weight is lost and then gained back over and over again. It may be helpful to work with a dietitian that can suggest an appropriate eating plan to reach a desired weight and then sustain it over the years.
Exercise - Aerobic exercise helps reduce cancer risk even if regular exercise doesn’t result in weight loss! Studies consistently show that cancer risk and recurrence are reduced by up to 50 percent with enough aerobic exercise. It changes metabolism, reduces inflammation, fat and insulin resistance, and, yes, it helps control weight as well. What to do? It’s simple. The American Cancer Society recommends at least two and a half hours per week of moderate activity, such as brisk walking, to increase heart rate and breathing.
Eat a healthy diet - No foods, not even sugar, are proven to cause cancer. However, there is a link between red meat and colon cancer. The connection between diet and cancer is excess weight, and eating unhealthy foods will pile on the pounds. Most experts suggest limiting red meat to just a couple of servings per week and consider a diet full of vegetables, fruit and whole grains. However, it’s important that the diet—or lifelong eating plan—is enjoyable! Choosing one that is not will guarantee that it won’t last.
Stop smoking – We’ve heard it before. Tobacco smoke contains toxins that damage DNA and adversely affect every major organ in the body. The result is increased risk for cancer of the lungs, tongue, mouth, larynx, bladder and cervix. However, for long-time smokers, there is some good news. According to the Centers for Disease Control, five years after quitting, the chance of developing mouth, throat, esophageal or bladder cancer is reduced by 50 percent.
- Limit alcohol - Excessive alcohol consumption may hurt the body’s ability to absorb nutrients; it may damage DNA, proteins and fats; and have other adverse effects. It’s related to many cancers, including head and neck, esophageal, liver, colorectal, and especially breast cancer. It’s recommended that drinking be limited to one drink per day for women and one or two drinks per day for men.
We’ve heard these recommendations before. They’re commonsense steps that have the power to bring about improvements in overall health and reduce the risk of getting cancer. Now may be the time to give them a chance.
The Wellness Center Hawaii, in Honolulu, offers the latest in cutting-edge and innovative energy-based techniques, applications and products that support one’s journey to optimal health. Its vision is to walk with clients on the road toward achieving clients’ desired goals.