Diet, Physical Activity and Cancer

Some people think they are invincible. They think that their lifestyles will not affect their physical being. These people are wrong.  Daily habits like diet and exercise affect many aspects of one’s life. For one, they are a big factor in an individual’s risk for getting cancer. The good news is that, unlike some of the other causes of cancer, this is one factor that can be controlled. Besides quitting smoking, some other important things an individual can do to reduce the risk of getting cancer are get to, and maintain a healthy weight, eat right and exercise daily.  These three things may have been drilled into everyone’s heads by any nutritionist, doctor, or health-nut aunt in one’s life, however, they may be on to something. Each year about 570,000 Americans die of cancer; one-third of these deaths are linked to poor diet and lack of physical activity.

Controlling Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is imperative to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Being overweight, especially obese, can increase one’s risk of getting certain cancers, including cancers of the breast (in women past menopause), colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, and others. Carrying extra weight on the body causes the body to produce and circulate more of the hormones estrogen and insulin which can stimulate cancer growth.  One of the best ways to test if an individual is at a healthy body weight is to test their Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is a score based on the relationship between a person’s height and weight. The average person should keep their BMI under 25, in order to reduce cancer risk. A good way to watch one’s weight is to keep an eye on food portioning, especially when it comes to foods high in calories, fat and or sugar.  Keeping a log of what is eaten over a week’s period can give someone a better insight into what he or she can cut back on.  Drinks high in sugar and calories are also a big part of some people’s diets and cutting back on those, or just drinking water can sometimes be an easy and effective way to begin weight loss.

Being Active

Another key to reducing the risk of getting cancer is to become more physically active. Not only does physical activity work along with diet in helping someone maintain ideal weight, it also helps improve hormone levels and the way the immune system works. The latest research recommends at least 30 minutes of mild to vigorous activity for adults every day.  Sorry, this does not include usual daily activity such as using the stairs or doing housework. It is also important to get the heart rate up when doing physical activity, it helps to get the blood flowing more effectively and makes you sweat, which is good. Moderate activities are considered those that make a person breathe as hard as they would during a brisk walk. This includes activities like walking, biking, dancing and even gardening.  More vigorous activities make the heart beat faster and use large muscle groups, making an active person breathe faster and deeper and also make them sweat more.

Eating Right

As important as it is to exercise and maintain a healthy weight, if a person doesn’t eat healthy, they may still be at risk for cancer. These tips can aid people looking to become a better eater build a healthy diet plan for themselves.  
  • Veggies and fruits: eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. This also includes legumes, beans and peas.  Keep in mind, foods with a lot of color usually mean they are high in nutrient content, and packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. These substances work together to lower risk of cancers such as lung cancers, mouth, esophagus, stomach, and colon.
  • Whole grains: at least three servings of whole grains a day would be ideal. Eating oatmeal instead of sugary cereals, choosing 100% whole-wheat breads or wraps over white bread, and using brown rice instead of white rice are all simple ways of getting whole grains into one’s diet.
  • Processed and red meats: processed meats like hot dogs, sausages, bologna and bacon are filled with additives and fillers which make these items less of a food and more of a science experiment. It is also a good idea to cut out red meats like beef, pork, and lamb to help reduce one’s risk of getting colon and prostate cancers. These foods are high in saturated fat, so eating less of them, and eating it less often will help lower one’s risk of getting cancer and other linkable heart diseases.

Mesothelioma and Physical Activities

While mesothelioma is not linked to cancer causes such as diet and exercise, those who are in tune with their bodies will be more on top of symptoms should they arise.  In the case of mesothelioma, since synergistic effects of smoking and asbestos exposure have proven to be a deadly combination, a person cannot be considered healthy unless they are a non-smoker. Reference: