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Lifestyle Affects Cancer Risks by:Linda Hibbard

During February 2009, results of a joint American-British study concluded that 1/3 of most common cancer cases in the U.S

. to be preventable by making healthy choices. Next to avoiding smoking, a healthy lifestyle is the most effective thing you can do to prevent cancer.

Dr. Tim Byers of the University of Colorado at Denver, stated that even though estimating cancer preventability is very complex and involves making some assumptions, the figures in the report are as good an estimate as possible about the number of cases that could be prevented through healthy diet, regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight.

At the AICR (American Institute for Cancer Research) Conference 2008, 400 people attended and participated in prevention topics such as: potential risks and benefits of specific dietary supplements, how changing eating and physical activity may affect cancer survivorship and effective ways to get people to adopt healthy behaviors and stick to them. Certain nutrients found in food that can change how a person's genes function to influence cancer risk were also discussed.

The AICR urges people to eat a healthy diet that includes a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. Here, you will also get your nutrients, fiber and cancer fighting phytochemicals.

The cancer preventing benefits found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and bok choy have been well known. Allium vegetables like onion, garlic, shallots, scallions and chives contain sulphur compounds called organosulfides which are touted for providing heart health, stimulating immunity, warding off infection and deactivating carcinogens. According to research, this compound also seems to help prevent cells from mutating and tumors from forming. In general, the foods of the Allium family decrease inflammation and protect against stomach and colorectal cancers.

Robert S. Chapkin, Ph.D., presented the conference data describing how omega-3 fatty acids may prevent colon tumors. At first, the omega-3 fatty acids in fish were linked with lower risk of heart disease. Now, research at the cellular level is beginning to reveal a possible link with lower risk of cancer. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include: oily fish such as salmon and tuna, flax seed/oil and walnuts which contain ALA-alpha-linolenic acid which slows the growth of breast cancer cells.

Dr. Zeke Emanuel, an oncologist and director of bioethics at the National Institutes of Health emphasized the need for people to keep their weight in a healthy range. Besides eating a nutritious diet, people need to include 30 minutes of exercise into their days, at least four days every week. Exercise plays a multiple role in human health, benefiting the circulatory system, muscular/skeletal system and increases the effectiveness of our immunity system to fend off beginning cancer cell growth and foreign invaders like bacteria and virus'.

Some of the recommendations for policy improvements to government, industry, media, schools, workplaces and humanity are:

-Governments should build walking and cycling routes.

-The food and drinks industry should make public health an "explicit priority."

-Schools should encourage exercise and provide healthy food.

-Schools, workplaces and institutions should remove junk food from vending machines.

-Health professionals should provide more information about healthy living and cancer prevention.

-People should use nutrition guides and food labels to buy healthier food for their families.

AICR Recommendations for Cancer Prevention include:

-Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.

-Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.

-Avoid sugary drinks. Limit consumption of energy dense foods (particularly processed foods high in added sugar or low in fiber, or high in fat).

-Eat more of a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes such as beans.

-Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork and lamb) and avoid processed meats.

-If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to 2 for men and 1 for women a day.

-Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).

-Don't use supplements to protect against cancer.

Special Population Recommendations

-It is best for mothers to breastfeed exclusively for up to 6 months and then add other liquids and foods.

-After treatment, cancer survivors should follow the recommendations for cancer prevention.

And always remember

- Do not smoke or chew tobacco.

About the author

Linda Hibbard holds certificates in Personal Training and Lifestyle/Weight Management. Innovative health and fitness products for men and women are available through her website at
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