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David Baxter

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6 New Year's Resolutions to Reduce Cancer Risk
by Carolyn Vachani, MSN, RN, AOCN, OncoLink.org
December 30, 2020

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The New Year is a time to reflect on the past year and look toward the upcoming year. This often inspires people to commit to working towards a healthier lifestyle. The following common resolutions not only make for a healthier lifestyle, they can also reduce cancer risk. And for many cancer survivors, they can reduce the risk of cancer recurring.

1. Quit all tobacco use.
This includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, dip or chewing tobacco, and marijuana. Tobacco use is the number one cause of preventable cancer deaths. The number of deaths due to lung cancer is approaching 160,000. if no one in the U.S. smoked, this number would be about 20,000! Tobacco use can cause cancer in the mouth, larynx (voice box), throat, bladder, kidney, esophagus, and pancreas. It has also been linked to colon and breast cancer. Ready to get started?

2. Eat better!
Evidence suggests that one third of all cancer deaths are due to dietary factors. By decreasing the amount of fatty foods and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat, you can lower your risk of developing cancer. Learn more about diet and cancer risk.

3. Protect yourself from sun and UV lightexposure.
Use a lotion with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher everyday and wear a hat when outdoors. You can even get a sunburn in the winter. Tanning booths expose people to the same harmful rays as the sunlight, so you should avoid using them. Learn more about sun safety on OncoLink.

4. Increase your physical activity and lose weight.
Diet, exercise and healthy weight make up a "health triangle"; each has its own effect on health, but together they are the second most important step, after not smoking, to preventing cancer and living healthier. A lack of physical activity has consistently been related to an increased risk of cancers of the breast, colon, prostate and endometrium. Being overweight and having a diet high in fat is clearly related to the development of breast cancer (in post menopausal women), cancers of the colon, endometrium (uterus), esophagus and kidney. It is estimated that 25 to 30% of the cases of these cancers is related to excess weight.

5. Decrease your alcohol consumption.
Excess alcohol consumption has been linked to cancer of the mouth, larynx (voice box), esophagus, and liver. It is particularly harmful for smokers, as the two cancer causing agents work together to produce more cancers. You may have read about the benefits of red wine, which has been found to have some properties (not related to the alcohol) that may be beneficial. The anticancer properties come from polyphenols, antioxidants found in the skin and seed of grapes, though these benefits only apply when red wine is drunk in moderation.

6. Get a routine physical by your healthcare provider.
Many people only see their healthcare provider when they are sick. A healthy visit can provide recommendations for healthier living and information about which cancer screening tests are right for you. And don't forget your dentist - a dental exam not only helps keep your teeth healthy, it also includes a screening for cancers of the mouth!
 

Daniel

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2. Eat better!
Evidence suggests that one third of all cancer deaths are due to dietary factors. By decreasing the amount of fatty foods and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat, you can lower your risk of developing cancer. Learn more about diet and cancer risk.

McDonald's at home:

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More seriously:

Does Body Weight Affect Cancer Risk?


Excess body weight may affect cancer risk in a number of ways, some of which might be specific to certain cancer types. Excess body fat might increase cancer risk by affecting:

  • Inflammation in the body
  • Cell and blood vessel growth
  • Cells' ability to live longer than they normally would
  • Levels of certain hormones, such as insulin and estrogen, which can fuel cell growth
  • Other factors that regulate cell growth, such as insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1)
  • The ability of cancer cells to spread (metastasize)

...The links between body weight and cancer are complex and are not yet fully understood. For example, while studies have found that excess weight is linked with an increased risk of breast cancer in women after menopause, it does not seem to increase the risk of breast cancer before menopause. The reasons for this are not clear.

The timing of weight gain might also affect cancer risk. Being overweight during childhood and young adulthood might be more of a risk factor than gaining weight later in life for some cancers. For example, some research suggests that women who are overweight as teenagers (but not those who gain weight as adults) may be at higher risk for developing ovarian cancer before menopause...

While we still have much to learn about the link between weight loss and cancer risk, people who are overweight or obese should be encouraged and supported if they try to lose weight. Aside from possibly reducing cancer risk, losing weight can have many other health benefits, such as lowering the risk of heart disease and diabetes. Losing even a small amount of weight has health benefits and is a good place to start.
 

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