Did you know 35% of cancers are potentially caused by modifiable lifestyle risk factors? Risk factors include smoking, alcohol abuse, low consumption of fruits and vegetables, obesity, and unsafe sex. Studies have shown that 70% of endometrial cancers in the US could be prevented through a healthy diet, regular physical activity and achieving a healthy weight.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS):
Obesity contributes 14-20% of all cancer related mortality. It’s associated with an increased risk of: breast (PM), colon, uterine, esophageal, renal, gall bladder, ovararian, thyroid cancer and more.
So what are some ways to not only lose weight, but to potentially decrease your risk for cancer? Healthy changes to your diet can have a huge impact. The ACS recommends ≥ 5 servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables daily. 5 servings may sound like a lot; however, ½ cup of lettuce is considered one serving and half an apple is one serving.
Increasing fiber in diets has also been associated with a lower risk of cancer. Foods high in fiber include whole grains like oatmeal, popcorn and brown rice, legumes, fruits like strawberries, raspberries, apples and pears (with skin), and many vegetables. High fiber decreases caloric intake and can aid in the prevention of obesity.
One last dietary recommendation by the ACS is to decrease the amount of red meat in your diet. Red meat has been shown to increase your risk for colon, rectal and prostate cancers.
Another great way to lose weight and aid in the prevention of cancer is through exercise. Research currently shows that exercise decreases the risk of breast, colon, uterine and prostate cancers. For some, this could be as simple as getting off the couch and going for a 20-30 minute walk.
Supplements may also help. Vitamin D and mushroom extract have been shown to be beneficial in the prevention of cancer. Vitamin D is anti-proliferative and increases cellular differentiation. It is found that serum levels of Vitamin D (25-OH) of at least 55ng/mL may reduce the incidence of several cancers. In other studies, shitake, oyster and winter fungus mushrooms have been proven to decrease the risk of certain cancers.
Lastly, green tea has also been studied in detail to aid in the prevention of cancer. Drinking ≥ 5 cups daily decreases the risk of breast cancer by 11% and the risk of breast cancer recurrence by 25%. One of the main constituents of green tea studied is catachin, not found in decaffeinated green tea. Celestial Seasonings green tea was found to have highest catachin content.
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