“Cancer isn’t always a matter of genetics or bad luck.” – Prof. David Whiteman, 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; lung, bowel, liver and stomach cancers.3
The key culprits causing these types of cancers are pretty obvious to most of us, and include:
- high intake of red & processed meats
- low fruits and vegetables
- excessive exposure to UV light
- excessive alcohol consumption
- physical inactivity
You don’t need to be a genius to know it all boils down to what we put in our bodies and how often we move.
So, what changes can you make for a healthier lifestyle?
- The biggest cause of preventable cancer is smoking, so your first mission is to “hang tough, don’t puff!”5
- Eat more fruit and veg and reduce red and processed meat –going vegetarian just two days per week may help you create a more balanced diet. You might even be surprised at some of the tasty and creative options available minus the meat!
- Decrease the grog – limit drinks to special occasions, weekends or set yourself the challenging of nursing one to two drinks only at a party.
- Exercise regularly – exercise helps reduce risks of various physical and mental health problems.6 If you have a sedentary ‘sit on youb bum’ lifestyle, even committing to 15 minutes of walking a day could be a great start.
- Reduce exposure to UV light – get your rays early in the morning or late in the afternoon and use a combination of protective clothing, shade and sunscreen. The tan bed has got to go!
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