Learn how to fight off cancer
|Author: Alice Park|
Date: Thursday, November 21st, 2013
(CNN) -- No one wants to get cancer. Turns out, you have considerable power over that scary fate. True, it's possible to do everything "right" and still end up developing the disease.
But a surprising amount of cancer is preventable -- in fact, a stunning one-half to two-thirds of our risk is in our control, many experts now believe. For example, about a third of all cancer deaths in the United States each year are linked to diet and physical inactivity.
Cervical cancer, which is linked to human papillomavirus, (HPV) can be avoided with vaccination.
"A proper diet, exercise, stress management and social support could go a long way toward addressing the vast majority of health problems" -- including cancer, says Dr. Brent Bauer, director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine program at the Mayo Clinic. It just comes down to adopting -- and sticking to -- some simple habits.
Load up on antioxidant-packed superfoods, like blueberries and kale, to keep cancer away, right? Yes, fruits and veggies are a crucial part of a healthy diet (and antioxidants do seem to thwart tumors, at least in lab studies -- see "Anticancer Foods," right).
But in recent years a more sophisticated understanding of how food affects our cancer risk has emerged.
Translation: We should be focusing not just on what we eat, but on how much. Obesity is a key culprit in a number of diseases, from diabetes to heart conditions, and it might contribute to cancer as well, in different ways.
After menopause, for instance, extra pounds can keep estrogen levels high, which can push breast cells to divide more aggressively, in some cases leading to tumors.
Two small changes that help you stay in shape and may lower your cancer risk: First, eat more fruits and vegetables -- any kind, but especially brightly colored ones, which are high in antioxidants. Consuming at least five servings a day can significantly lower your chances of getting cancer, Doyle says.
Second, have less red meat and more plant-based proteins such as beans and tofu. Cooking red meat at high temperatures releases compounds that, when digested, have been linked to some cancers.
"The good news," Doyle notes, "is you don't have to change absolutely every single thing to see a real difference in your risk."
Squeeze in exercise
Doctors are increasingly aware that being physically active goes hand in hand with eating well when it comes to preventing cancer.
Investing in a healthy diet but not getting enough exercise could negate the benefits of all that responsible eating; working out fanatically but overdoing it on high-calorie favorites won't do your body much good, either.
Some studies have linked higher levels of physical activity with lower levels of breast cancer, although the reason for the association isn't exactly clear. (Exercise might adjust your hormonal balance to make it less hospitable for tumors to grow, or trigger metabolic changes that make cancer less likely.)
How much is enough?
Though there's no specific anticancer formula for exercise, (yet) the ACS recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate physical activity -- walking briskly, gardening, playing tennis, whatever you like.
Constant stress over months and years may drive the body's systems to extremes -- contributing to an increased risk for heart disease and even a weakened immune system, which can create fertile ground for tumors, experts believe.
While no studies directly connect stress to your cancer risk, a link isn't unrealistic: Lab and animal research has shown that hormones released in response to stress can actually help a tumor grow -- they may promote the formation of blood vessels that tumors need to survive.
So minimizing stress might help ward off cancer. One simple way to start: As soon as you wake up, think about five things that make you happy and why they do, says Dr. Amit Sood, chair of the Mayo Clinic Mind Body Initiative.
That keeps your brain from falling into worry mode, and staying there for the rest of the day. "Think of cancer as a weed," Sood says. "We change the soil so the weed doesn't grow. "
Get enough sleep
While we slumber, both our body and brain are hard at work, repairing tissues and tuning up neural connections. People who skimp on the eight to nine hours that the average adult needs tend to have higher rates of heart disease, diabetes -- and possibly cancer.
In a large study of Japanese women, those who slept less than six hours a night over several years were more likely to develop breast cancer (though that might have been due to family history or other factors for which researchers didn't control).
Another study that did control for family history, published in the journal Cancer, found that people who slept that little were almost 50 percent more likely than subjects who got seven hours or more of rest to grow colorectal adenomas -- precursors to colon cancer.
Being deprived of the sleep hormone melatonin might be the cause. Normally, melatonin levels in your body peak at night, triggered by the absence of light, and drop during the day. But when production of the hormone is interrupted, it can have serious effects: Recent findings from a long-term study revealed that nurses who were on call more frequently at night had higher rates of breast cancer than those who worked days.
That doesn't mean you will absolutely develop cancer if you work nights or if you can't always snag a solid seven hours of shut-eye -- just that your overall risk might be higher. But the research does suggest that it's beneficial to keep melatonin flowing -- say, by lying in the dark instead of turning on the lights if you wake up in the wee hours. It also tells us that getting a good night's sleep should be a top priority.
That's one doctor's order we're happy to take.
Copyright Health Magazine 2011
- All Categories
- Academic Outreach
- Continuing & Professional Development
- Distance Learning
- Summer Sessions
- Winter Term
- Career & Workforce Development
- Lifelong Learning
- Society for Lifelong Learning
- WKU On Demand
- Study Away
- Faculty-Led Study Abroad
- Center for Faculty Development
- Cohort Programs
- Dual Credit
- Conferencing & Catering
- All Categories
- March 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS October 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2012 E-Newsletter
- April 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS November 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2012 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2013 E-Newsletter
- JUNE 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS May/June 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2013 E-Newsletter
- Archived CHHS News
- CHHS October 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2013 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS April 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2014 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2015 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2015 E-Newsletter
- December 2015 ICYMI
- January 2016 ICYMI
- MAY 2016 ICYMI
- February 2016 ICYMI
- CHHS July 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS October 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS November 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS December 2016 E-Newsletter
- CHHS January 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS February 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS March 2017 E-Newsletter
- CHHS September 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS August 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS July 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS June 2011 E-Newsletter
- CHHS May 2011 E-Newsletter
WKU’s School of Journalism and Broadcasting has won the Hearst Journalism Award Program’s Intercollegiate Photojournalism Competition for the 23rd time in the past 28 years.
The memory of Gabbi Doolin will live on forever through the establishment of the Gabbi Doolin Memorial Scholarship Fund, administered through the College Heights Foundation at WKU.
March 24th - 26th
The Learn and Earn program at WKU partners with area companies and businesses to employ both traditional and non-traditional college students thus helping meet their company production goals. For more information, visit https://www.wku.edu/learnandearn/
Construction webcams are now in place so you can watch the progress of Hilltopper Hall and the Southwest and Northeast Hall connectors online: wku.edu/webcams - images are uploaded from 5 am-5 pm.
Note: documents in Portable Document Format (PDF) require Adobe Acrobat Reader 5.0 or higher to view,
download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Note: documents in Excel format (XLS) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Word format (DOC) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Powerpoint format (PPT) require Microsoft Viewer,
Note: documents in Quicktime Movie format [MOV] require Apple Quicktime,