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Can Diet and Exercise Influence Your Cancer Risk?

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Did you know eating right and being active may reduce your cancer risk? The World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research released a report in 2007 that summarized the most current research on the effect of diet and exercise on cancer prevention.


Here is what they recommended:

Maintain a body mass index (BMI) between 21 and 23.Your BMI compares your weight to your height. A higher number typically means a person is becoming overweight or obese. To quickly calculate your BMI go

Be physically active at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes a day. Moderate activity is equal to a brisk walk. As your fitness improves, increase moderate activity to 60 minutes per day or vigorous activity to 30 minutes a day. Limit TV watching and other sedentary activity.

Eat fewer high calorie foods like sugary drinks, convenience foods and fast foods. Even limit fruit juices that are high in natural sugar. Instead, eat more foods that have not been processed like whole grains, vegetables, whole pieces of fruit, nuts and seeds.

Eat at least 5 servings (14 ounces) of non-starchy vegetables and fruits every day. Good non-starchy vegetables are broccoli, greens, green beans, okra, eggplant, carrots, tomatoes, yellow squash, cabbage and cauliflower. Also consume whole grains and/or cooked beans and peas with every meal. Limit refined starches like white bread, pasta made from white flour and white rice.

Limit red meat to less than 18 ounces per week and avoid processed meat. Red meat is beef, pork, lamb and goat. Processed meat is any meat preserved by smoking, curing or salting or with added chemical preservatives.

Limit alcohol. Ideally, drink no alcohol at all. Even small amounts seem to increase cancer risk. Men should not have more than two drinks a day, and women should have no more than one. A drink is equal to 5 ounces of wine, 1.5 ounces of hard liquor or a 12-ounce beer

Limit salt. Avoid cereals, dried beans and peas that have mold. Do not use over 1 teaspoon of salt per day (2,000 milligrams of sodium). This amount includes salt you add to your food and the amount added by food manufacturers.

Grain and dried beans and peas infected with mold contain aflatoxins that can increase liver cancer risk.

Do not depend on dietary supplements to prevent cancer. Instead, get your nutrients from a balanced diet.

Breastfeed babies exclusively for up to 6 months then continue when solid food is added. Breastfeeding protects both the mother and the child from cancer.

If you are a cancer survivor, follow these same nutrition and activity recommendations. The expert panel believes that these diet and activity guidelines also apply to those who have already had cancer.