April is Cancer Control Month
April is Cancer Control Month, but what exactly is cancer control? It’s about making changes to things you can control, like diet and exercise, so you can greatly lower your risk of cancer. Research shows that one-third of cancer cases are linked to poor diet, physical inactivity, and carrying too much weight. Along with quitting smoking, the top three things you can do to reduce your cancer risk are related to these three controllable behaviors:
- Achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Be physically active.
Control Your Weight
Being overweight can increase the risk of cancer and chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. Cancer risk is increased when excess weight causes the body to produce and circulate more of the hormones estrogen and insulin, which can stimulate cancer growth. A good way to see if you are at a healthy weight is to have your doctor check your body mass index (BMI). BMI measures the relationship of your weight to your height. A healthy weight is considered a BMI below 25. Get started with simple steps to help achieve a healthy weight:
- Limit portions sizes
- At meals, make ½ of your plate fruits and vegetables. They also make great snacks
- Limit excess calories from sugary beverages
- Read food labels and limit products that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, sodium and added sugar.
Control Your Diet
Nutrient-rich foods contain essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants all of which have been shown to help prevent cancer. Since all foods contain a different mix of nutrients, it’s important to eat a varied and balanced diet. Take a look at your diet to see how you can add more of these foods to your meal plan.
- Fruits and vegetables, including beans and legumes. Whether their fresh, frozen, dried or canned, aim for a serving at every meal and snack. Not only are they full of fiber, vitamins and minerals they’re also low in calories — helping you to manage your weight.
- Whole grains. They contain more fiber, which has been shown to help prevent certain cancers such as colon and rectal cancers. Half of the grains you eat each day should be whole grains. Read labels and look for the word “whole” in the ingredient list.
- Low-fat dairy. Three servings of low-fat milk and dairy foods help provide you with the calcium and vitamin D your body needs.
Control Your Activity
Increasing your activity plays a role in cancer prevention since it helps you achieve or maintain a healthy weight. The American Cancer Society recommends that healthy adults get at least 30 minutes a day of intentional moderate vigorous activity at least 5 days a week. Intentional means over and above everyday activities like using the stairs at your office or doing housework. For kids, the recommendation is 60 minutes or more at least 5 days a week