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Reducing your Cancer Risk

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If you are reading this blog, you know about Devin Sheaffer, H3’s  beloved massage therapist that passed  away last year from cancer. The type of cancer Devin died from is rare with no known behavioral risk factors. When we hear about someone dying from a type of cancer that seems to have no real cause, especially if it is someone we know and care about, it can reinforce the misconception that many people have: that cancer is something we can do  very little to prevent. And while, unfortunately, that was the case with Devin’s type of cancer, that is not the case with many forms of cancer. Specifically, the ones that affect the most people. For example, while there are over 200 different types of cancer, the two most influenced by lifestyle, lung and colorectal, are responsible for almost 40% of all  cancer deaths. Smoking accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths and 87% of all lung cancer deaths.

Approximately one third of all cancer deaths each year are due to poor nutrition, physical inactivity and excess weight. In fact, surprisingly after tobacco smoking, obesity is the principle cause of cancer in the U.S.  So the fact is, there is a lot we can do to reduce our risk of cancer. The American Cancer Society and the American Institute for Cancer Research are great resources for cancer information in general and specifically to learn what you can do to lower your risk.

To reduce your cancer risk they recommend that we:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight throughout life
  • Adopt a physically active lifestyle
  • Consume a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant sources.
  • Limit the consumption of red meat and avoid processed meats.
  • Limit your consumption of alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women , 2 drinks per day for men.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and other calorically dense foods.
  • Limit the consumption of salty foods.
  • Don’t Smoke.

Not only will these behaviors lower your risk of many types of cancer, but they will lower your risk of many other chronic diseases as well including heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

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