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Lifestyle Affects Cancer Risk

Posted Aug 06 2013 3:00am
Did you ever get an itch that you just couldn't scratch?  Well, some how I got it in my head that some study was published recently linking lifestyle to cancer.  Problem was, I couldn't find it!  So I did my best imitation of the proverbial blind squirrel looking for a nut and finally found the prospective multicenter study published earlier this spring in March in Circulation in which the authors concluded that greater adherence to just seven habits of a healthy lifestyle was associated w/lower risk of cancer.  If this sounds familiar, it's because these same Life's Simple 7 habits were linked to a lower risk of stroke barely 2 months ago .

Of note, the 13,253 participants were in the Atherosclerosis Risk In Communities (ARIC) trial rather than June's Reasons for Geographic And Racial Differences in Stroke (REGARDS) trial.  Let's recall that these 7 ideal metrics are part of the American Heart Association's Strategic Impact Goal Through 2020 and Beyond .  Specifically, they were never having smoked (or having quit more than 12mo); having body mass index less than 25kg/m2; daily consumption of 4-5 components of a healthy diet score; engaging in more than 75min/wk of vigorous physical activity or 150min/wk of (at least) moderate physical activity.  They also looked for an untreated total cholesterol less than 200mg/dL, untreated blood pressure less than 120/80mm Hg; and untreated fasting glucose less than 100mg/dL.  

Those who met at least 6 of the 7 lifestyle goals had half the cancer risk of those who had met none of the goals.  After excluding the effect of tobacco use, those who met at least 5 of 6 lifestyle goals still had 25% lower risk of cancer compared to those who had met none of the goals.  Bottom line: what's good for your heart is good for your brain and also lowers your risk for cancer.  You have to admit that's a pretty impressive 3 for the price of 1 deal!

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