What to know for National Cancer Prevention Month

The American Institute for Cancer Research advocates three guidelines for cancer prevention.

First, pick mostly plant foods, limiting red meat and avoiding processed meat such as hot dogs, ham, sausages and bacon from your diet.

Secondly, be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.

And lastly, aim to be a healthy weight throughout your life.

Does any of this sound familiar? These same three principles apply to preventing heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions, as well as getting into peak shape.

Choosing mostly plant foods is important because by focusing on the vegetables, fruit, whole grains and beans your body will get the nutrients that protect against cancer, get lots of fiber, which pulls fat out of your body and keeps your digestive tract clean, and keep you lean.

Clean and lean — that’s healthy and preventative. By choosing healthy foods that are low in sugar and fat, and by avoiding processed meat which has cancer-causing additives, you can do much to gain health and reduce your waistline. Energy dense foods that are laden with fat and sugar result in many more calories per ounce.

For example, 3.5 ounces of apple has 52 calories, while 3.5 ounces of chocolate has 520 calories. One of the largest contributors to weight gain in the U.S., which leads to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, is the consumption of sugary drinks such as soda and fruit drinks. These substances contribute nothing to our health while posing a major threat to it.

Water is a good, healthy alternative, as well as tea and coffee — in moderation. Even real fruit juice should be controlled to no more than one 8-ounce glass per day because, although it is nourishing, it is still very high in sugar.

Weight gain and obesity is consistently linked to cancer. The most common types of cancers that are consistently shown to be affected by excess body weight are esophageal, pancreas, colon and rectal, endometrial, kidney, postmenopausal breast, gallbladder, ovarian and advanced prostate. The reasoning behind the link between high fat levels on your body and increased cancer risk is that body fat is not inert. Fat cells produce estrogen, a hormone which promotes cell growth. They also produce proteins that cause inflammation and insulin resistance.

Fat around the belly, or the mid-line, is even more active at producing these growth stimulants, so those who are overweight or “apple shaped” have high levels of circulating proteins that stimulate cell division. The more often cells divide the more likely something will go wrong and for cancer to start. The experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research state that, aside from not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is the single most important thing that you can do to avoid cancer. Currently, two thirds of Americans are overweight. These are appalling statistics!

Being physically active for at least 30 minutes every day will help prevent weight gain and will reduce the chance of especially colon cancer because being active helps keep you regular. Physical activity can also help regulate your hormone levels which can reduce your risk for some cancers. Exercise and physical activity strengthens your immune system and also allows you to eat more food, and get more cancer-battling nutrition without gaining weight.

Do something every day and slowly build up the intensity and the time.

Looking good is one thing, but staying healthy is another more important goal. The ways of preventing cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity are all the same. The benefit is that they help you look good too!

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Jane Riley, M.S., B.A., C.P.T., Certified Nutritional Adviser, can be reached at janerileyfitness@gmail.com, 212-1451 or www.janerileyfitness.com.

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