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Health & Medical

BEYOND TRIM: Tips for building a cancer-fighting body

Don’t be dissuaded – healthy choices are well within reach

Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center
Sherry DeWalt of CGH Medical Center

Every 10 years, the American Institute for Cancer Research publishes a report that summarizes new information related to cancer research. This year’s report is 12,000 pages long. I recently watched a webinar that summarized the findings and thought I would share the highlights with you.

Following are behaviors the AICR says can help reduce a person’s risk of getting cancer:

Eat more vegetables – Fiber, anti-oxidants, and other compounds found in vegetables are protective, and it is better to get them from eating food rather than taking supplements.

Eat less meat – The latest research shows that eating more than 18 ounces of red meat a week increases the risk of colorectal cancers. Beef, lamb and pork are red meats.

Eat no processed meat (bacon, hot dogs, lunch meat, sausages, etc.) – The evidence linking processed meat consumption to cancer risk is so pronounced that the World Health Organization has declared processed meats a Class 1 carcinogen.

Engage in physical activity – Being active reduces risk for endometrial, breast (postmenopausal) and colorectal cancers.

Control your weight – Twelve different types of cancer are now linked to being overweight or obese.

Limit your alcohol intake – There is strong evidence that alcohol increases the risk of several cancers, including cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, breast, stomach and colorectum. Even small amounts of alcohol consumed regularly increase the risk for certain cancers, such as breast.

The speakers also addressed common misconceptions about cancer risk.

One is that your risk of getting cancer is hereditary and beyond your control. In fact, lifestyle factors seem to have more influence on your risk for developing cancer than family history.

Another misconception is that the choices that make a difference in a person’s cancer risk, such as eating healthy food, are out of reach of most people.

Many healthy, cancer-protective foods, though, are relatively inexpensive. Beans, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables (fresh or frozen) are just a few that are readily available.

Many people also do not grasp how much your weight is tied to your cancer risk. Expanding fat cells result in increased hormone levels, inflammation, and an increase in factors that fuel cancer growth.

The AICR website has lots of great information. It also has a cancer risk assessment tool that you can use to identify your personal risk factors.

Check it out at aicr.org.

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