“Cancer” is a word that no one wants to hear when presenting to a doctor’s office or as a diagnosis for any family members. It is not one disease, but many diseases that affect many Americans each day. It is non-discriminatory and can affect anyone from infants to adults. According to “The National Cancer Institute” (n. d. ), there will be an estimated 1,638,910 newly diagnosed cases of cancer and 577,190 deaths from cancer in the 2012 (Cancer Statistics). (http://www. cancer. gov/cancertopics/cancerlibrary/what-is-cancer) These numbers, although estimates only, are alarming.
Considering these numbers, one might ask themselves if there is any one thing that can be done to help in the prevention of cancer. Studies suggest that there are several actions a person can take in helping to prevent cancer. Eating a healthy diet, incorporating physical activity and exercise into a daily routine, and limiting alcohol use can help aid in the prevention of cancer. The words “eat a healthy diet” are often heard in today’s society. The biggest reasoning behind these words would be to maintain a healthy weight so that people may live longer and help prevent the risks of disease.
According to some studies, there are certain foods that contribute to certain diseases. More and more we are hearing about foods that can contribute to different types of cancer. According to the “AICR’s Foods That Fight Cancer” (n. d. ), “In laboratory studies, many individual minerals, vitamins and phytochemicals demonstrate anti-cancer effects. Yet evidence suggests it is the synergy of compounds working together in the overall diet that offers the strongest cancer protection” (para. 2). (http://www. aicr. rg/foods-that-fight-cancer) The type of foods that help in the prevention of cancer can be found on the routine shopping list. It would appear the basic four food groups taught in elementary school suffice as the same basic food groups for an adult in helping to prevent cancer. Laboratory studies suggest that minerals and vitamins obtained by eating certain foods help in cancer protection. The same basic foods that children are taught to eat are the same foods that provide the minerals and vitamins for cancer protection. Fruits such as apples, blueberries, and grapes provide vitamins.
Fiber is another essential element provided through whole grains and beans. Each of these food groups helps contribute to a healthy weight. By maintaining a healthy weight, it would seem this helps to aid in the prevention of cancer. Having a healthy weight would appear to play a key component in the prevention of cancer. However, “The consensus among scientists in the field of cancer control is that diet plays an important but not fully understood role in modifying cancer risk and that certain changes in the American diet could have a beneficial impact on cancer occurrence [1-6]. (“Dietary behaviors related to cancer prevention among pre-adolescents and adolescents: the gap between recommendations and reality ,” 2011, para. ). As discussed earlier, a healthy diet is a factor in maintaining weight. Diet alone cannot maintain a healthy weight. Other essential steps are needed to obtain and maintain a healthy weight.
Physical activity and exercise are important components in this process. As stated in a fact sheet of “The National Cancer Society” (n. d. ), “Physical activity is a critical component of energy balance, the term researchers use to describe how weight, diet, and physical activity influence health” (para. ) (http://www. cancer. gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/physicalactivity) Physical activity is any movement of the body that requires more energy than it does to rest. Activities such as walking, running, swimming, and dancing are some examples. Exactly how much physical activity should an adult get daily? The Center for Disease Control recommends adults get up to 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily for at least 5 days a week and more vigorous exercise for 20 minutes on 3 of those days. Physical activity is not to maintain a healthy weight alone.
It helps in other areas such as maintaining healthy bones and joints and promotes a healthy psychological outlook. It also reduces the risks of death due to heart disease as well as reduces the risks in development of diabetes mellitus and hypertensive heart disease. Research suggests that the physical activity helps boost the immune system and suppress hormones related to certain cancers. By living actively, the circulation throughout the body is improved through blood flow. The increased blood flow stimulates the immune system in fighting unwanted cells and maintaining the good cells. As mentioned, the human body produces hormones.
The sugar regulating hormone known as insulin is known to lead to faster cell growth and division, which increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer. Other hormones produced in the body such as testosterone and estrogen are stored in excess quantities of fat. Testosterone and estrogen can be linked with certain cancers. Physical activity can help burn excess quantities of fat reducing the overall risks of cancer related to both of these hormones. One other factor that may be surprising in the prevention of certain cancers is refraining from the use of alcohol. For many, alcohol is a social gateway.
It is used to entertain guests or business colleagues, and is also used when dining out. For others, it is used as a tool of destruction in such instances as depression or addiction. Alcohol has been linked to certain cancers such as cancer of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, and even pancreas. The researchers are uncertain the exact way alcohol contributes to cancer other than behavioral effects from alcohol consumption. Because of a person’s mental impairment when drinking, they are likely to consume larger amounts of alcohol. Excess alcohol consumption can add calories to a person’s diet thereby increasing weight.
It has also been shown to increase hormones levels which have been linked to certain cancers and are stored in fat. It has been shown to damage body tissues and cells. Alcohol has also been shown to deplete nutrients from the body. One key aspect in the consumption of alcohol is that it is often accompanied by cigarette smoking. Smoking alone increases the risks of cancer development and when coupled with alcohol use, the risks are doubled. With these facts in mind, it looks to be that alcohol consumption alone has all the same effects as does eating an unhealthy diet and the lack of physical ctivity combined. According to researchers and national medical institutes, individuals have the ability to help prevent cancer by instituting simple changes in their lives. Sustaining a healthy diet and keeping with the basic four food groups to include adequate fruits and vegetables is key in helping the prevention of cancer by aiding in the maintenance of a healthy weight. Maintaining a healthy weight and incorporating physical activity and exercise in our daily routine is another way to help in the prevention of cancer by boosting the immune system and helping to eliminate risks for other diseases.
Limiting alcohol use is also a key factor in helping in the prevention of cancer. Alcohol alone seems to have a combined effect of an unhealthy diet and the lack of physical activity and exercise. There are certain steps a person can take in helping prevent cancer. Eating a healthy diet, incorporating physical activity and exercise into a daily routine, and limiting alcohol use can help aid in the prevention of cancer.
Dietary behaviors related to cancer prevention. (2011). Nutritional Journal, 10(1), 60-67. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-60 Testino, G. (2011). The Burden of Cancer Attributable to Alcohol Consumption.. Romanian Journal of Medical Practice, 6(4), 313-320. www.cancer.gov. (2012, February 06). What is Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/cancerlibrary/what-is-cancer www.cancer.gov. (2012, February). Physical Activity. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/physicalactivity