Hello everyone. I hope you are all doing well this week. This week I listened to a very important lecture delivered by one of my lectures on cancer prevention. I know this isn’t the nicest of topics to think about but I believe it is a very important one that we must all pay attention to.
In 2018, cancer was the second leading cause of death world-wide and responsible for 9.8 million deaths. These are devastating figures. There are lots of things you can do to limit your risk of developing cancer. The most common lifestyle factors related to cancer is:
- High BMI (body fatness)
- Low fruit and vegetable intake
- Lack of physical activity
- Alcohol use (responsible for 1/3 deaths from cancer).
Smoking is the most important risk factor for developing cancer and is responsible for approximately 22% of cancer deaths.
I will discuss with you the importance of each prevention measure identified in the infographic below. This information is from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research and based upon a large body of scientific research.
- Be a healthy weight.
Overweight and obesity is a risk factor for cancer. Staying a healthy weight all throughout life is optimal to prevent cancer of many types. You can check that your BMI is in a healthy weight range here: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-weight/bmi-calculator/
PLEASE NOTE: There is a lot of controversy around BMI and its accuracy. If you are very physically active and have a lot of muscle mass this may be an inaccurate measure for you. For the general population this measure is a helpful tool to understand roughly what weight range you are. If this is triggering to you, please do not click the link.
2. Be physically active.
Life-long physical activity has shown to be protective against many cancers, particularly lifestyles that limit sedentary activity such as sitting down.
Try to meet the government guidelines for physical activity for adults of 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise -75 minutes of vigorous activity exercise a week.
A good, simple way to test moderate intensity exercise is the talk-test. During moderate intensity exercise you should be able to talk but not sing. During vigorous activity it should be hard to talk.
3. Eat a diet rich in wholegrains, fruits, vegetables and beans.
Diets rich in these foods are protective against cancer due to their high fibre and antioxidant content. These foods help fight against disease and create a protective internal environment.
Aim to get 5+ portions of fruits and vegetables a day (more vegetables than fruit). Try to eat beans as often as possible and choose wholegrains over white pastas, rice, bread etc.
4. Limit processed foods high in sugar, fats and salt.
Diets rich in these foods show higher incidences of cancer. Limit and avoid as much as possible.
5. Limit consumption of red and processed meats.
Processed meats and carcinogenic and are linked to many cancers. Substitute these meats with other protein sources preferably plant sources such as beans and nuts.
6. Limit consumption of sugar sweetened beverages.
AVOID as much as possible and drink mostly water to aid in overall health and cancer prevention.
7. Limit alcohol consumption.
When considering cancer prevention, it is best to consume no alcohol at all.
8. Do not take supplements specifically for cancer prevention.
They are not required and some can be harmful. Try to meet nutritional needs through diet alone.
9. For mothers, try to breastfeed your baby.
Breastfeeding is protective for both the mother and baby and have been shown to reduce incidences of breast and ovarian cancer in mothers.
10. After a cancer diagnosis, follow the recommended guidelines.
Although a depressing topic it is very important to discuss. I wanted to share this information with you due to cancers prevalence.
If you need further information please visit below: https://www.wcrf-uk.org
Thank you for reading.