Five Cancer Avoidance Strategies to Adopt for the New Year
Posted Dec 20 2010 12:00am
Cancer, like other diseases such as diabetes and coronary heart disease, has a connection to one's lifestyle. It follows logically, then, that some forms of cancer can be avoided or ameliorated by changes in one's eating, drinking, and exercise habits. A recent article spelled out clearly which lifestyle changes are necessary, perhaps in the new year, to help yourself. Below is an excerpt from it (see: Five holiday resolutions for cancer prevention strategies ):
Resolve to stop smoking. Lung cancer kills more people than breast, colon and prostate cancers combined and tobacco use is the No. 1 cause of this form of cancer. This is a particularly important gift to your children, as ‘secondhand’ smoke is also a strong risk factor, and children of parents who smoke are more likely to start smoking themselves.
Watch your weight: According to the American Cancer Society, excess weight causes the body to produce and circulate more of the hormones estrogen and insulin, which can stimulate cancer growth. Obesity has been linked to several forms of disease, including breast, colon and pancreatic cancer.
Add some cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts or cabbage to your holiday menu: Researchers...have documented a possible link between a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables and a decreased risk for breast cancer and colorectal cancer. “Cruciferous vegetables contain some compounds that may have a cancer-inhibitory effect,” explained [an expert]. “We were able to identify a group of women with a specific genetic profile who seem to particularly benefit from a high intake of these vegetables.”
Substitute fruit juice, sparkling cider or water for alcohol: “High consumption of alcohol over several years has been linked to a risk for head and neck cancer which is the fifth most common cancer in the U.S.,” said [an expert]. “We encourage everyone to abstain from alcohol or drink in moderation to reduce their risk for this type of cancer.”
Get some exercise: After a big holiday meal, encourage family members to take a walk or engage in one of the new video games that require physical activity. Exercise has been linked to a reduced risk for several types of cancer. Physical activity may reduce your cancer risk by helping maintain your weight, and can also improve your hormone levels and the way your immune system works.
What's remarkable about lists such as these is that the preventive medicine researchers are starting to put some good science behind their recommendations. Note, for example, the reference above to the fact that estrogen and insulin are elevated with obesity and they can act to stimulate cancer growth. In my mind, the reduction in cancer associated with exercise is still a little vague but there are certainly powerful cardiovascular reasons to work out regularly if you need some other incentive. I personally like cruciferous vegetables so eating them is not a reach for me.