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British Society of Lifestyle Medicine: TOP TWENTY ANTI-CANCER LIFESTYLE TIPS

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Posted By Prof Robert Thomas

The World Cancer Research Fund, Cancer research UK and The National institute of Health of the USA all estimate, based on the available scientific data, that about 50% of cancers could be preventable by lifestyle and nutritional factors. As more research is published this figure may well increase screening and vaccinations.

The top twenty lifestyle approaches that have the most evidence for benefit are:

Exercise – increase daily moderate to strenuous levels, aiming to achieve 3-5 hours a week and avoid long periods of sedation.

Processed sugar – try to eliminate intake especially on an empty stomach, aims for the low glycaemic index diet.

Polyphenols – maintain a high intake in healthy foods and boost with a polyphenol supplement if necessary.

Smoking – try to stop immediately.

Carcinogenic foods – avoid smoke foods, acrylamides in baked foods and nitrosamines in cured meats.

Carcinogenic xenoestrogens – reduce exposure to plastic, pollution and pesticides.

Alcohol – avoid in excess, have days off and go for quality not quantity.

Meat – reduce red meat or stop cheap processed meat intake, avoid burned, grilled or barbecued meats.

Fats and oils – eat a profile of good fats and avoid bad fats.

Essential minerals – ensure sufficient intake but avoid extra pills unless a known deficiency.

Vitamins – ensure sufficient intake but avoid extra pills unless a known deficiency.

Sunlight & Vitamin D – take extra pills in the winter, try to get regular sun without burning.

Dietary fibre – Increase intake especially from flaxseeds, quinoa, whole grains and wild rice.

Plant proteins – increase legumes, beans and pumpkin and other seeds rich in plant proteins.

Body mass – try to maintain a healthy weight, not too thin and lose weight if obese.

Overnight fasting – aim for 13 hours between your evening meal and breakfast.

Nuts – eat a handful of mixed nuts every day.

Gut bacteria – try to maintain a healthy gut with natural foods and probiotics if necessary.

Sleep – try to adopted good sleep hygiene habits to enhance a regular circadian rhythm.

Mood – Look after your thought processes and psychological health.

Does lifestyle matter after cancer?

1. Influencing cancer outcomes:

Although patients with established cancer have already sustained the initial DNA damage in order to mutate from benign to malignant cells, the progress from an early indolent cancer to an aggressive form can be influences by on-going nutritional and lifestyle habits. Further DNA damage encourages the cancer to developed mechanism to hide from the body’s immunity or become resistant to medical treatments. There is strong evidence that a healthy lifestyle can also have an influence on the direct biological processes which encourage cancer cells to:

Grow faster (proliferate)

Not die when they have reached the end of their life cycle (apoptosis)

Stimulate blood vessels to feed the rapidly growing cells (angiogenesis)

Loose their stickiness to the site of origin (loss of adhesion)

Grow into adjacent organs (invasion)

Spread through the body (metastasise).

2. Reduce risks of side effects and aide recovery:

Based on the available published evidence lifestyle strategies can help reduce or help many of the side effects of cancer treatments and reduce the risk of other chronic disorders:

When to consider a lifestyle initiative?

Shortly after their diagnosis, patients and their relatives are confronted by a sudden commotion activity usually traveling to the hospital for blood tests, x-rays, scan, biopsies, and treatments. This causes enormous upheaval to the daily routine both socially and at the work place. Most of your time is taken up adjusting to their new diagnosis, with coping with the side effects of therapy and the difficulties of remembering, where and when they have to be and what to do when they get there! Forcing yourself into a strategy which you cannot do for practical or physical reasons would be inappropriate or at worse may project a feeling of guilt which is counter- productive. Depending on the individual circumstances, at an early point in the treatment pathway, however, the subject could be introduced gradually and sensitively. The timing is paramount, as is the ability of the clinician to assess the patient’s receptiveness to considering lifestyle issues at each stage. Too early and the anxieties of the circumstances will be confounded, too late and the benefits of lifestyle will be overlooked.

2 Replies

Hi BadHare,

Thanks for this information. Hope you had a good weekend and wishing you a great week ahead.

Zest :-)

BadHare profile image
BadHare in reply to Zest

You too!


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