Can we prevent cancer? Dr. Vivek Loomba

There is no proven way to totally avoid cancer. However, we can certainly decrease the chances of getting this horrible disease. The American Cancer Society encourages people to maintain a healthy lifestyle, do regular physical activity and eat healthy so as to prevent this disease. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts to prevent cancer:

LIFESTYLE: Adopt a physically active lifestyle. Aim to maintain a healthy weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) throughout life. Regular physical activity helps in maintaining adequate weight. Also, avoiding consumption of high-calorie foods and beverages will assist in weight management.

We should aim to be as lean as possible throughout life without being underweight. Obesity increases the risk of cancer several fold. If you are already obese or overweight, aim for a gradual weight reduction. Even a small reduction in weight has great health benefits.

EXERCISE: The current guidelines recommend that adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, or an equivalent combination, preferably spread throughout the week. It is recommended that children and adolescents should engage in at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with vigorous intensity activity occurring at least 3 days each week.

We should develop a habit to limit our sedentary lifestyle. Television watching and other screen based entertainment should be limited to less than an hour daily. Any form of physical activity above usual activities, no matter what one’s level of activity, can have many health benefits.

DIET: A healthy diet with an emphasis on plant food is useful in preventing cancer risk. The diet should consist of at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruits each day. Processed meat and red meat increase the risk of cancer, and therefore aim for a limited consumption. Develop a habit of eating small food portions so as to avoid weight gain. Consumption of whole grains is the healthier option compared to the refined grain products.

ALCOHOL: Alcohol is a proven carcinogen. Limited alcohol intake has been proven to prevent cancer risk. The recommended alcohol intake is no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men.

SMOKING: Smoking predisposes to several cancers. Aim to stop smoking. If you find it difficult, do not hesitate to seek help from support groups to accomplish your aim.

Please refer to my blog — cancer and diet by Dr Vivek Loomba to know about the role of diet in various cancers.

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