Cancer Prevention: Move More and Ditch Drinking by Stacy Geant Hughes

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

We haven’t heard much about health and medicine these days except for all things virus, but the American Cancer Society (ACS) just made its most recent recommendations for cancer prevention. And here’s the skinny.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

My sister, weight loss expert and registered dietician, Amy Mackenzie, likes to quip, “You can’t outrun your fork.” In other words, what you do in the kitchen and at mealtime is even more important to maintaining a healthy weight than what you do in the gym. Eating well is the key to maintaining a healthy weight and ACS reports that nearly 11% of cancers in women and 5% in men are linked to obesity.

Eat Well

As for what to eat, ACS suggests you “eat a colorful variety of vegetables (from 1.5-3 cups a day) and fruits,” and be sure to add whole grains and legumes in your diet, too. And while it’s no fun to hear during BBQ season, they specifically recommend avoiding, or at least limiting, red and processed meats, highly processed foods and sugary drinks. So instead of the burger and beer, reaching for the fish or veggie burger option at your next get-together will clearly keep you healthier.

Move your Body

There appears to be no end to the good news about moving your body. From mental health to physical health, exercise offers benefits you can’t purchase or pop in pill form. According to the ACS’, adults should get 150-300 minute of moderately intensive exercise a week (that’s 20-40 minutes a day on average) or 75-150 minutes of vigorously intensive activity a week (a mere 10-20 minutes a day). Children should get one hour a day of any type of moderate to intense exercise a day. That’s only three 60-minute classes each week for adults, and for kids, it’s a bike ride around the block once or twice… ok, maybe three times.

Avoid (or at least limit) Alcohol

The ACS would prefer we avoid alcohol altogether. Harvard Health Publishing reports on a large study from August 2018 that looked at data from hundreds of studies and other sources. It concluded that because so many cancers and other diseases were related to alcohol use, the healthiest approach of all was not to drink at all.

None of this guidance should come as a surprise to you; we’ve seen it all before in one form of another (right here in this column, in fact!). But, as we are all focused on wearing our masks and washing our hands to avoid getting sick today, why not pick one of these recommendations to start now for a healthier tomorrow?

Stacy Geant Hughes, Owner of Core Value Pilates, LLC, Certified Pilates Instructor, Certified Pink Ribbon Program specializing in post breast cancer surgery

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