You Can Prevent Cancer

You have more control over preventing the disease than was previously thought.
You Can Prevent Cancer
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The way you eat, how much you exercise, and how well you deal with stress affects your risk of developing cancer— and you have more control over preventing the disease than was previously thought. That’s the latest word from the world’s top scientists who spent more than five years analyzing thousands of studies to come up with this definitive conclusion. The results of their meta-analyses were released recently by the World Cancer Research Fund/ American Institute for Cancer Research.

Why does lifestyle have such an impact? “When your body loses normal genetic control—often through nutritional deficiencies and environmental toxins, as well as the aging process—the cells will grow into cancers before the immune system can eliminate them,” explains Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., an internist who practices complementary therapy. But by eating the right foods, exercising wisely, and reducing stress, you can shore up your immune system and improve your odds against triggering the disease. In fact, scientists say healthy living and early detection could prevent up to 70 percent of all cancers. Follow our comprehensive guide—and decrease your risk.

To get the most cancer-fighting benefits from exercising and watching your weight, follow these proven tips:

YOUR GOAL: Thirty minutes per day (or 210 minutes per week) of vigorous activity—like brisk walking or jogging. Three ten-minute bouts are just as effective as one half-hour workout, and some amount of exercise is always better than none.
EVIDENCE: Studies have shown that physically active women can reduce their risk of breast cancer by 30 percent, and men and women who work out regularly could reduce their risk of developing colon cancer by 30 to 40 percent. Exercise also reduces chronic inflammation (which can trigger cancer growth); keeps estrogen levels low (protecting against all hormone-dependent cancers, including breast cancer); strengthens the immune system and digestive tract; and helps stop tumor growth by stimulating activity in key enzymes while minimizing the impact of carcinogens.

YOUR GOAL: Keep your BMI (body mass index) between 21 and 23, with a waist size of less than 31.5 inches for women and 37 inches for men.
EVIDENCE: In a study last year of more than 99,000 postmenopausal women, those who were overweight between the ages of 35 and 50 had 1.4 times the risk of developing breast cancer compared with women of normal weight. One British study of 1.2 million women ages 50 to 64 found that 5 percent of all cancers—about 6,000 cases a year—were due to being overweight or obese. Obesity is associated with higher levels of certain hormones, including estrogen, and higher insulin levels, which are directly linked to several cancers, including breast and colorectal.



“The most important thing you can do to curb your cancer risk (other than
not smoking)is to keep your weight down.” —Colleen Doyle, R.D.,director of nutrition
and physical activity for the American Cancer Society




YOUR GOAL: Stay active as much as possible, even at work. At home, do gardening or housework.
EVIDENCE: Many studies support the effect activity has on cancer prevention. Gardening one to two times a week decreased former smokers’ risk of lung cancer by up to 45 percent, says a study from the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Household chores can be as effective as recreational exercise when it comes to curbing breast cancer risk, says one Polish study.

YES. Several recent studies have shown that vitamin D plays a huge role in reducing the development and spread of cancer, including one from the University of California, San Diego, which found the less exposure a woman had to sunlight (your body makes vitamin D from sunshine), the more likely she was to develop breast cancer. Many women are deficient in vitamin D, so ask your doctor about getting tested. You may need to get more midday sun (many experts suggest ten to 15 minutes per day) or take supplements.