These 4 Healthy Habits Can Cut Your Cancer Risk By 40%

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You’ve heard that maintaining a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk of developing cancer, but new research shows just how much of an impact it can have. According to a new study published in the journal JAMA Oncology, up to 40 percent of cancer cases can be prevented by making small healthy tweaks to your lifestyle.

 

For the study, researchers tracked more than 135,000 people and found that about 20 to 40 percent of cancer cases and about half of cancer deaths can be prevented by following a “healthy lifestyle pattern.” People who met that criteria never smoked or no longer smoked, didn’t drink heavily (women had one drink a day or less and men had two or fewer drinks a day), had a BMI between 18.5 to 27.5, and did either 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of “vigorous” physical activity a week.

 

“There have been substantial data supporting the importance of lifestyle factors for cancer prevention,” lead study author Mingyang Song, M.D., Sc.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, tells SELF. “Our findings reinforced that.”

 

It seems pretty doable, and Dale Shepard, M.D., a medical oncologist at the Cleveland Clinic Cancer Center, tells SELF it is. “These are all very attainable things,” he says. “With some simple, modest lifestyle changes, you can have a really big impact on your cancer risk.”

 

While the things that lead to the development of cancer are complex, Amber Orman, M.D., a radiation oncologist at the Moffitt Cancer Center, tells SELF that it’s “impossible” to deny that lifestyle factors play a major role. “What we do to and put into our bodies every day has a lasting effect, and we must never underestimate the power we have over our own health,” she says.

 

But why do these factors matter? Alcohol use, which has been linked with certain cancers, like colon, breast, head and neck, and primary liver cancer, can directly impact DNA repair, Shepard says. “It can keep cells from regenerating, so you have direct damage to cells,” he explains. Our bodies eventually reach a point where they can no longer repair this DNA damage, which results “in an environment conducive to cancer development,” Orman says.

 

Alcohol can also affect estrogen levels, creating hormonal changes that create an increased risk for breast cancer, Shepard explains. Not only that, it causes oxidants, a form of oxygen that causes damage to our health, to be formed in your body. “It’s an anti-antioxidant,” Shepard says.

 

Working out, eating well, and maintaining a healthy BMI can help lower your bodily inflammation, which has also been linked to cancer at higher levels. Excess body fat secretes many hormones and molecules that can lead to insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, cholesterol abnormalities, and a chronically inflamed bodily environment where cancer can thrive, Orman explains.

 

If you’ve been slacking on going to the gym and haven’t been so great about your diet lately, don’t stress. Experts say you can still turn things around. “I am a firm believer that our most powerful cancer treatment is prevention, and it is never too late to begin,” says Orman. “While I treat cancer, I spend a significant portion of my time counseling my patients towards positive lifestyle changes.” And, if you’re already doing them, it’s good to know you’re on the right track.

 

Looking for a new way to get that vigorous exercise your body needs? Try this:

 
 

Via self.com

 

 

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