Can these 4 things dramatically reduce your cancer death risk?
If someone told you that you could do four things to dramatically lower your risk of developing cancer, would you believe them? While some doubt that lifestyle changes can have a large effect on overall risk, a recent study suggests otherwise. The research published by Jama Oncology says that 20 percent to 40 percent of cancer cases—and about 50 percent of all deaths from cancer—could be prevented if people did four things, namely exercise regularly, maintain a healthy BMI, not smoke, and drink alcohol only in moderation.
Researchers examined more than 130,000 participants. They divided the participants in two groups: the first, healthier group, was considered “low risk” and the second group was “high risk.” They looked at how likely the participants in each group were to develop any cancer, except skin, brain, lymphatic, hematologic, and nonfatal prostate malignancies. They excluded these cancers because they are usually linked to causes like UV rays and other carcinogens.
They found that the low-risk group was less likely to develop and die from cancers. This group had the following common characteristics:
- They didn’t smoke.
- They didn’t drink, or drank in moderation.
- They had a healthy BMI.
- They exercised regularly – either exercised vigorously for 75 minutes a week or did 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise.
“There are a few breast cancer risk factors that are not in our control, such as age, family history or having previous biopsies,” says Dr. Heidi Memmel, a breast surgeon at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. “But there are several factors that we can control. For example, being overweight or obese, smoking and alcohol use can increase your risk of breast cancer, while diet and exercise can reduce it.”
Dr. Memmel says that obesity, particularly in postmenopausal years, is a big risk factor for developing breast cancer. “Maintaining a low-fat, low-red meat diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as regular exercise, can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.”
Dr. Memmel adds that having as few as four to seven drinks of alcohol per week increases your risk of breast cancer, as does tobacco smoking for 10 or more years.
About the Author
Sonja Vojcic, health enews contributor, is a marketing manager at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, Ill. She has several years of international public relations and marketing experience with a Master’s degree in Communications from DePaul University. In her free time, Sonja enjoys spending time with her family, travelling, and keeping up with the latest health news and fashion trends.