Just about everyone I know has been touched by cancer. Whether it was a parent, a cousin, a neighbor, a co-worker, a child or themselves, it seems to single no one out. News of cancer hit my family this week and it got me thinking. Why? While many are cancers can be hereditary, (breast, ovarian, colon), several, if not all, have some lifestyle component, which means prevention. Below are some tips to beat the big C.
1. Maintain a healthy weight. This doesn’t mean you have to reduce down to your unrealistic high school fighting weight, but being overweight or obese does increase risk for cancer, especially breast, prostate and colon. Lose weight gradually- give up soda and evening snacks, drink more water, reduce big portions. Get up and move. Every pound makes a difference.
2. Eat more fruits & vegetables. If it’s one thing we can all use more of, it’s plants. Dark, green leafy vegetables are full of cancer-fighting phytochemicals and anti-oxidants, and they’re so easy to incorporate into your meals. Add a pile of spinach to your eggs, add broccoli, tomatoes and peppers in your salad. Throw some kale in your smoothie. Just eat more daily.
3. Less alcohol, more green tea. It’s funny how most of us would find it shameful to drink 3 (12 oz.) sodas in one night, but have no issues with drinking 3-6 beers at a time. While I’m not advocating soda intake by any means, it is clear that our society encourages and celebrates alcohol without considering the consequences. Did you know that just one drink a day for women has been found to boost breast cancer risk by 11%? Excessive alcohol intake has been implicated in stomach, pancreas and other gastrointestinal cancers. Green tea on the other hand, has been linked with reduction in several types of cancers including lung, brain and breast. Aim for 3 or more cups of green tea per day. It may also aid in weight management- another boon!
4. Exercise. If there’s one thing that will keep you alive and kicking longer in this world, it’s movement. Regular physical activity helps manage weight, which aids in cancer reduction. Regular exercise has been found to reduce risk for colon cancer as well as breast cancer recurrence in women. Walk, ride a bike, swim or enjoy some other activity at least 30 minutes a day.
5. Eat less animal foods– especially red meat and full fat dairy. Do you really need another study linking bacon and beef with cancer? You don’t have to go vegan, but reducing processed, cured meat and red meat certainly won’t hurt. While you’re at it, go easy on full fat milk, cheese, butter and ice cream. Saturated fat not only ups your cancer risk, but is not so great for your arteries or brain in the long run, either. Just remember, #moreplantslesscow.