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Report confirms healthy habits crucial in battling cancer November 13, 2007

Posted by Dreamhealer in Research.

In the single most important study conducted so far on the connection between lifestyle choices and cancer risk, the World Cancer Research Fund confirms the crucial role healthy habits play in the prevention of this disease.

On the menu: Maintaining a healthy weight, eating lots of plant products, reducing the consumption of red and processed meats and exercising regularly.

This second report, released jointly by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, is the result of a whirlwind of work.

During a five-year period, hundreds of scientists from various countries carefully scrutinized the results of more than 7,000 studies focusing on the connection between lifestyle choices and cancer risk.

These results were then analysed by a panel of experts consisting of 21 distinguished scientists who work in the cancer, nutrition and physical activity fields. The result was impressive: A 517-page report that summarizes the knowledge gathered to date on the effect of diet and physical activity on the risk of developing 17 different types of cancers.

The detailed analysis of cancer risk factors enabled the panel of experts to make 10 major recommendations to reduce the burden of cancer in the world:

– Stay as thin as possible, with a body mass index between 21 and 23. BMI is your body weight in kilograms divided by the square of your height in metres. For example, someone 1.75 m tall who weighs 70 kg has a BMI of 23: 70 / (1.75 x 1.75) = 23

– Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.

– Avoid soft drinks and minimize your consumption of foods that contain large quantities of sugar and fat. (In other words, reduce your fast-food consumption.)

– Eat abundant quantities of fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole-grain foods. The panel recommends that these foods comprise two-thirds of each meal, the other third coming from animal protein.

– Reduce your consumption of red meats (beef, lamb, pork) to about 500 gm a week and replace them with fish, egg or plant proteins. The panel also recommends to completely avoid eating delicatessen meats because these significantly increase cancer risk.

– Limit your daily intake of alcohol beverages to two glasses if you are a man and one if you are a woman.

– Limit your consumption of products preserved in salt (salted fishes, for example) and products containing high amounts of salt.

– Do not take supplements to prevent cancer. Studies show the synergy of combining foods is far superior to supplements in reducing the risk of developing cancer.

Finally, the panel issued recommendations for two very specific cases:

– Mothers should breast-feed their children during a six-month period to reduce breast cancer risk.

– Cancer survivors should follow the recommendations aforementioned to the letter.

These recommendations confirm the huge influence our lifestyle, especially our diet, has on cancer risk.

The report confirms that a diet rich in vegetable products, combined with a significant reduction of the consumption of red meats is a key aspect of any preventive approach against cancer.

The report goes further by demonstrating for the first time that being overweight or obese is an important cancer-risk factor and that maintaining a normal body weight must be a priority of any preventive approach.

According to one of the panel’s experts, Walter Willett of Harvard University, “obesity is now approaching smoking as a cancer risk and will possibly exceed it one day.”

We must act fast if we want to stop the obesity epidemic from progressing and becoming, in a few years, the No. 1 public health enemy, responsible for a large proportion of the three major diseases that affect our society: heart diseases, diabetes and cancer.


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