“Cancer isn’t always a matter of genetics or bad luck,” says Professor David Whiteman of Brisbane’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.1
A recent study from the institute found risky habits and behaviour are to blame for more than 16,000 Australians being diagnosed with cancer each year.2 The good news is that changing these behaviours may help prevent certain cancers forming.
The most common types of cancers that are directly related to lifestyle choices include skin melanomas, and lung, bowel, liver and stomach cancers.3 The key culprits causing these types of cancers include:
- tobacco smoking
- high intake of red and processed meat
- low intake of fruits and vegetables
- excessive exposure to UV light
- excessive alcohol consumption
- being physically inactive
- being overweight.4
In other words, what we put in our bodies and how often we move them.
So, what changes can you make for a healthier lifestyle?
- Since the biggest cause of preventable cancer is smoking tobacco, your first mission is to “hang tough, don’t puff!”5
- Eat more fruit and vegetables and reduce your intake of red and processed meat –going vegetarian just two days per week may help you create a more balanced diet.
- Decrease your alcohol consumption – limit your drinks to special occasions or set yourself the challenging of nursing one drink per party.
- Exercise regularly – exercise may help reduce the risk of various physical and mental health problems.6 If you have a sedentary lifestyle, even committing to 15 minutes of walking a day could be a great start.
- Moderate your exposure to UV light – get your sunlight early in the morning or late in the afternoon and use a combination of protective clothing, shade and sunscreen.
1-5 ABC News, (2017), ‘Changes to risk factors could have prevented 40 per cent of cancer deaths, study finds’. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-12/cancer-study-finds-40pc-deaths-preventable-with-lifestyle-change/9247876
6 Australian Government, Department of Health, ‘Physical Activity’. Available at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/phy-activity
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