Making healthy lifestyle choices offers two big benefits: it lowers both your risk of cancer and heart disease
Who can resist a twofer, eh?
Not very many true red-blooded Canadians, I’m sure, so here’s a two-for-one offer that will, I hope, tempt at least some of you: If you start following my frequently offered advice to do more of the right things to help lower your risk of heart disease (and strokes and diabetes), then I can promise you another very important benefit. Namely, that you will significantly lower your risk of many cancers at the same time as you lower your risk of those other chronic health conditions I just mentioned.
Reducing Risk of Heart Disease Can Help Prevent Cancer
That’s according to a recent study published online in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. The study concluded that people who follow at least six of the seven “healthy heart” guidelines currently endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA) also reduce their risk of any type of cancer by a whopping 51 per cent.
According to this study, even those who follow only a few of those guidelines will still lower their risk of cancer, albeit by less than that 51 per cent that accrues to the strictest guideline adherents.
Reduce Your Risk of Cancer by Living a Healthy Life
And I really want to emphasize that whopping 51 per cent lower risk because I think it will surprise many of you who seem to believe that cancer is largely a factor of two elements beyond personal control: exposure to some kind of chemicals or environmental toxins, or having inherited the wrong kind of genes.
Yes, both those factors do play a role in why some people get certain types of cancer, but nearly every expert agrees that the biggest contributor to an average person’s lifetime risk of most cancers is lifestyle choices. That’s true even for certain cancers that most people rarely associate with lifestyle choices, such as breast cancer and prostate cancer.
7 Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle
So what are those healthy heart guidelines? The usual suspects:
- Not smoking (it’s best, of course, if you never take up smoking in the first place, but it’s never too late to stop)
- Maintaining a normal blood sugar level
- Maintaining a normal blood pressure
- Being active (regular exercise is best, but just doing a little more than usual is a good start)
- Having a normal cholesterol profile
- Eating a heart-healthy diet (a Mediterranean-style diet is best, but again, just beginning to eat less garbage and substituting more fruit and veggies would be a great way to start a healthier diet)
- And maintaining a normal body weight (or since some weight gain seems to be well-nigh inevitable with time, then at the very least, make sure that your weight doesn’t go up as quickly as, say, a Canadian senator’s dubious expense claims soon after he — or ahem, she — is appointed to that lifetime slush fund).
Dr. Art Hister is a medical writer and health analyst for Global TV.