By Stacy Simon
Take care of your heart and help lower your cancer risk by eating smarter and being more active. The American Cancer Society has updated its guidelines for nutrition and physical activity to help you reduce your risk of cancer. And a recent study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that nonsmokers whose lifestyles were most consistent with Society guidelines had a significantly lower risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular disease, or all causes combined.
You may already be following our advice. If you are not and want to make changes, try some of the tips here.
1. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life.
• Being overweight or obese is related to increased risk for cancers including breast in post-menopausal women, colon, endometrium, and pancreas. It may also be associated with increased risk for cancers including liver, cervix, ovary, and aggressive prostate cancer.
It is also a factor in an estimated 14% to 20% of cancer deaths in the US.
Expert Voices: ACS Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines Evolve
• Excess weight is thought to increase cancer risk mainly by the way it affects immune function, inflammation, and hormones.
• If you are overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight has health benefits and is a good place to start.
2. Adopt a physically active lifestyle.
• Physical activity can help you get to and stay at a healthy weight and affect the levels of some hormones that contribute to cancer formation.
• Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week, preferably spread throughout the week. Moderate-intensity activities are those at the level of a brisk walk. Vigorous-intensity activities increase your heart rate and breathing, and make you sweat. Examples include running, aerobic dance, and soccer.
• But even lower amounts of activity can help. And for people who haven’t exercised in a while, it makes sense to start slowly and build up gradually. And clear any new activity with your doctor.
• Kids should get at least 1 hour of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity each day, with vigorous-intensity activity at least 3 days each week.
• Spend less time sitting in front of the television, computer, or video game console. There is growing evidence that time spent sitting, no matter how much exercise you get, increases your risks of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer, and shortens your lifespan.
3. Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables.
• Eat at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day. Include lots of different kinds and limit creamy sauces, dressings, and dips.
• Eat less bacon, sausage, luncheon meats, hot dogs, and other processed meats. Substitute ﬁsh, poultry, or beans for red meat (beef, pork, and lamb). Bake, broil, or poach meats rather than frying or charbroiling.
• Choose whole-grain breads, pasta, and cereals (such as barley and oats) instead of those made from refined grains, and brown rice instead of white. Eat less of other reﬁned carbohydrates and sugary foods like pastries, candy, and sugar-sweetened breakfast cereals.
4. If you drink alcohol, limit how much you drink.
• Have no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women. Alcohol increases risk for several types of cancer including breast, mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, liver, and colon, as well as for several other health problems.
• Some people should not drink alcohol at all, including women who are or may become pregnant, children and adolescents, and people who cannot limit their drinking or who have a family history of alcoholism.
American Cancer Society Director of Nutrition and Physical Activity, Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, says for nonsmokers, the most important way to lower risk is to change what you weigh, what you eat and how active you are. (For smokers, quitting is still number one.)
For more details, read the entire American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention, published in the journal CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff
ACS News Center stories are provided as a source of cancer-related news and are not intended to be used as press releases. For reprint requests, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Citations: Kushi, L. H., Doyle, C., McCullough, M., Rock, C. L., Demark-Wahnefried, W., Bandera, E. V., Gapstur, S., Patel, A. V., Andrews, K., Gansler, T. and The American Cancer Society 2010 Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee (2012), American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 62: 30–67. doi: 10.3322/caac.20140
McCullough ML, Patel AV, Kushi LH, et al. Following cancer prevention guidelines reduces risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology. Jun 2011;20(6):1089-1097.