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cancer risk

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Excess Weight Increases Risk of Eleven Cancers

The absence of excess body fat lowers the risk of most cancers,

Scientists have found 11 types of cancer show a strong association with excess body fat, according to a systematic review of the literature. The strongest evidence was seen for gastric, colon, rectum, bile duct system, pancreas, breast, endometrial, ovary, kidney, esophageal adenocarcinoma, and multiple myeloma.

PositiveTip: Avoid consuming excess calories and engage in physical activity daily to maintain ideal weight and reduce your risk of these common cancers.

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How Exercise Contributes to Cancer Prevention

Exercise can lower the risk of developing cancer.

Exercise contributes many direct and indirect biochemical changes that help explain its anti-cancer benefits. A few of these include:

  1. Changes to cell-growth regulators.
  2. Stimulate proteins involved in DNA repair.
  3. Improves immunity, especially regular, moderate exercise.
  4. Helps reduce chronic inflammation.
  5. Contributes to weight management.
  6. Outdoor exercise can result in increased exposure to sunlight and vitamin D.

There are likely many other pathways as well. Learn more by reading this excellent summary.

PositiveTip: Choose to get moderate exercise almost everyday of the week to enhance your health and lower your risk of cancer.

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Cancer is a Weighty Matter

Twenty percent of cancers are related to excess body weight.

The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found growing evidence that losing weight may prevent obesity-related cancers. Those include postmenopausal breast, colorectal and esophageal cancers. The American Institute of Cancer Research estimates that if every American were at a healthy weight, 130,000 or more cases of cancer could be prevented.

PositiveTip: Intentional weight loss, when needed, can help lower cancer risk.

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Lifestyle Modifications Make Big Difference in Cancer Burden

Chance does not drive all cancer risk.

More than 28,000 healthcare professionals who met four healthy-living criteria (never or past smoking, moderate or no alcohol, BMI of 18.5-27.4, and regular physical activity) were compared with over 100,000 participants who did not meet all four criteria. Researchers estimated that 25% of cancers in women and 33% in men could have been prevented. Also, these simple health habits could prevent 48% of cancer deaths in women and 44% in men.

PositiveTip: Don't wait for new medical discoveries. Lower your risk of cancer now by choosing to live healthfully.

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Keep Moving Every Day to Lower Cancer Risk

Leisure-time activity lowers the risk of 13 common types of cancer.

Results of 12 prospective U.S. and European cancer studies were pooled (1.44 million participants) to analyze the impact of high vs low physical activity levels. Leisure-time physical activity was associated with lower risks for 13 common cancers types. Most of these benefits were present regardless of body weight or smoking history (lung cancer excepted). Melanoma was an exception, probably because of more unprotected exposure to sunlight.

PositiveTip: Lower your cancer risk by engaging in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily.

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Midlife Physical Fitness Conveys Lower Risk for Cancer

High midlife fitness was associated with lower cancer deaths later in life.

Men in the highest fitness level when tested in mid-life had a 50% lower incidence of lung and colorectal cancer (but not prostate cancer) after age 65 compared to those in the lowest fitness category. Those who who did develop any of these three cancers after age 65 lived longer when they were physically fit during midlife.

PositiveTip: Midlife physical fitness reduces the risk of certain cancers and decreases the chances of dying from those cancers later.

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Sitting Increases Risk of Cancer

Exercise will not undo the harm of sitting all day!

Sitting can be fatal! Researchers in Germany did a meta-analysis of 43 observational studies that included more than 4 million people. They found sitting is associated with a 24% increased risk of colon cancer, 32% increased risk of endometrial cancer, and a 21% increased risk of lung cancer. The bad news from this study is you cannot exercise away sitting's harmful effects. When adjustments were made for physical activity it did not erase the impact of sitting.

PositiveTip: Keep moving regularly all day long!

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Outrun Breast Cancer

Breast cancer survivors benefit more from running than walking.

A study among breast cancer survivors found that runners who ran 2.25+ miles per day had a 95% reduced risk of breast cancer mortality, while walkers didn't show any significant reduction in risk. Previous larger-scale studies have found health benefits for both walking or running among breast cancer survivors. More research is needed to know if walking faster or longer might confer the same survival advantages.

PositiveTip: Ladies, exceed the recommended 2.5 hours per week of moderate physical activity to improve your odds of beating breast cancer.

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Cancer and the Taller Woman

Cancer risk in women increased 13% for each 4-inch increase in height.

Analysis of 145,000 participants in the Women's Health Initiative over 12 years found that taller postmenopausal women face higher risks for 10 types of cancer. For each 4-inch increase in height a 13% increase in risk for all cancers was observed. Height may not be the cause, but rather a marker for one or more factors that influence risk. 

PositiveTip: If you are a taller than average woman, preventive care checkups could be very important.

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It's Never Too Late to Lower Your Risk of Cancer

A majority of Americans do not know that aging increases the risk of cancer!

Does your potential cancer risk scare you? You are not alone! A recent survey by the American Institute for Cancer Research has found the majority of Americans over 70 years old do not know that cancer risk increases with age. Also, many older Americans think there is nothing they can do to reduce their risk. These troubling findings have led the AICR to launch a campaign called It's Never Too Late to Lower Your Risk.

PositiveTip: The good news is that even older people can significantly lower their risk of cancer through simple lifestyle changes such as eating smart, moving more, and attaining a healthy weight.