What Impact Does Lifestyle Have On Cancer Risk? Maybe More Than You Think.
If you really believed that you could cut your risk of cancer in half by eating more fruits and vegetables, less red meat, and getting adequate amounts of exercise, would you do these things?
According to the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) World Cancer Congress 2012, more than 50% of cancers could be prevented if people would implement what they already know about prevention.
Graham Colditz, PD, Dr. PH, from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, reports that in the next 15 to 20 years a large number of cancers could be prevented if lifestyle behaviors improve. That’s not to say that other higher-cost interventions wouldn’t still be critical for early diagnosis such as colonoscopies and mammograms.
Smoking Is Still The Mother Of All Carcinogens
Dr. Colditz says that one third of cancers in high-income countries are caused by smoking. Another 20% is the result of high body max index (BMI) and obesity. If, as a population, we are able to reduce BMIs to healthier levels, the incidence of cancer could be reduced by approximately 50% over a 2 to 20 year period.
Poor diet and lack of exercise are each associated with about 5% of all cancers. Dr. Colditz believes that the incidence of cancer could be reduced by 50% with improvements in diet and by 85% with increases in physical activity over the next 5 to 20 years.
The study also mentions the three main viruses associated with cancer: Human papillomavirus and hepatitis B and C. Widespread infant and childhood immunization programs could eradicate these virus-related cancers in 20 to 40 years.
The Anti-Cancer Diet
These are pretty startling claims! But even skeptics don’t have anything to lose by a change in diet and increasing physical activity to 30 minutes at least five days a week.
Fruits and veggies that contain Vitamin C are also believed to lower the risk for some cancers. The top ten vitamin C-loaded foods are: red and green hot chili peppers, guavas, bell peppers, fresh herbs (thyme and parsley), dark leafy greens, kiwi, papayas, oranges, and strawberries.
You don’t have to eliminate fat from your diet, but studies show that animal fat can increase the risk of breast and colon cancer. Fats that come from vegetables –like olive and canola – are healthier and can actually lower your risk for heart disease. Just by swapping red meat for poultry and fish at least twice a week, you can make a difference in your overall health.
Take some time to shop the produce aisle at the supermarket and get creative with new recipes that include different fruits, vegetables and seafoods. The picture at the top of the post is a meal I prepared using Swai fish (broiled), and fresh asparagus sautéed in olive oil and garlic. Toss a fresh, delicious salad using spinach, romaine lettuce, strawberries, mandarin oranges and sliced kiwi for a side dish that’s loaded with vitamin C and other antioxidants.
Now that you know that lifestyle changes can prevent 50% of common cancers, will you change?
Source of lifestyle and cancer study: