Maybe it hits close to home and you’ve seen its impact first hand. Maybe it’s only something you’ve seen from a distance. Maybe it’s what you do for a living: studying it, treating it, removing it. Maybe it means nothing more to you than ribbons, 5Ks, and fundraising events.
No matter how it impacts you personally, cancer is scary. It seems to be something beyond our control, grasp, or comprehension—and sometimes it really is. Sometimes there is nothing you can or could have done to prevent it, but sometimes there is. The World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF) does research on the link between dietary habits, weight, physical activity, and cancer. Their research shows that nearly 1/3 of cancers could be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices: diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular physical activity. This research gives us just one more reason to try to make healthy life choices (1).
Today, February 4th, is World Cancer Day. This year the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) chose “Not Beyond Us” as the theme for World Cancer Day. This theme takes “a positive and proactive approach to the fight against cancer, highlighting solutions that do exist” instead of focusing on things still out of our control (2). Their four key areas of focus are healthy lifestyle choices, early detection, treatment for all, and quality of life. To learn more about each key area, please see the fact sheets below and remember that we have the power to change our health through positive choices (2). To start, the WCRF has ten cancer prevention recommendations related to lifestyle choices and behaviors. These include:
- Be lean without being underweight
- Be physically active as a part of everyday life
- Limit consumption of energy-dense foods and avoid sugary drinks
- Eat mostly foods of plant origin
- Limit your intake of red meat and avoid processed meat
- Limit alcoholic drinks
- Limit your consumption of salt and avoid consuming moldy grains or legumes
- Aim to meet your nutritional needs through diet
- For mothers, aim to breastfeed your children if possible
- For cancer survivors, receive professional nutritional care and (if able to do so, unless otherwise advised) follow the recommendations for diet, healthy weight, and physical activity
To learn more about each recommendation, click here: http://www.wcrf.org/int/research-we-fund/our-cancer-prevention-recommendations
Author: Sarah Boop