By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.
A major study has shown that healthier lifestyle practices result in “considerable” benefits for the prevention of cancer. The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, involved more than a half-million adults aged 50 to 71 who were followed for an average of 10.5 years for cancer incidence, 12.6 years for death from cancer, and 13.6 years for death in general.
Those individuals who most closely followed American Cancer Society guidelines were found to have reductions in cancer incidence and death, as well as all-causes of death.
Aside from not smoking, the guidelines include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight throughout life.
- Pursue regular physical activity and limit sedentary behavior.
- Limit high-calorie foods, drinks (like sodas), processed meat, and red meat.
- Eat at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
- Eat whole grains instead of refined grain products (like white bread, bagels, and white flour).
- Drink no more than 2 alcoholic beverages a day (if male) or 1 (if female).
My Viewpoint: It’s simple. A good lifestyle will reduce the risk of any illness. It is the key to preventing heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and cancer, the major take-down diseases. That’s what I’ve been telling my patients for years.
What This Means to You: Too many people are either ignorant of the risks involved in poor lifestyle or feel that if they get into trouble, their doctors will give them a pill and everything will be OK. It doesn’t work that way. An ounce of prevention is always worth a ton of cure, perhaps more. Don’t get yourself in a situation where a disease process causes tissue damage and you then have to wage a tough, come-from-behind battle often involving surgery or medication, and often fraught with side effects and complications.
My Recommendation: Follow the cancer society recommendations – you can find them here. My one caveat is this: don’t forgo healthy fats as a means of limiting high calorie foods. Also please review my article on prevention here for more tips. You have more power than you think to keep yourself healthy. You just need to make it a habit.
- Kabat GC, et al. Adherence to cancer prevention guidelines and cancer incidence, cancer mortality, and total mortality: a prospective cohort study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;101(3):558-569. Published online at http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/101/3/558.abstract?etoc
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