February fourth was world cancer day. Since 1971 when then President Nixon declared war on cancer we have seen that despite the spending of billions of dollars, not much headway has been made in reducing the cancer mortality rate. To make real headway we need to turn to genuinely preventing cancer.
If a pill was invented that could reduce your chances of getting cancer by 1/3 there is a fairly strong likelihood you would want to take it. Good news then.
The London based World Cancer Research Fund published findings that 1/3 of all cancers could be prevented by simply eating a healthy diet and doing regular exercise. A healthy diet is one that has fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fish and is low in red meat, processed and refined foods and bad fats (trans fats and some saturated fats). Regular exercise means some form of physical activity for at least 30 minutes at least 4 days a week.
This genuinely is not difficult or beyond the reach of virtually anyone. I suspect the reason it may not be applied is that it is too simple and therefore not taken as seriously as new technology or a wonder drug.
Studies in Britain have shown that rates of colon cancer could be reduced by around 20% in women and 30% in men. (The reason for the differences in the sexes is not clear.) This would be achieved by… eating more fruit and vegetables, less red meat regular exercise and keeping alcohol consumption below 3 drinks per day for men and 2 for women together with weight reduction to the healthy range.
These are impressive figures. The reductions would be greater than those that come from screening testing which is expected to prevent 15 % of colon cancers in the UK. This is not a surprise as screening can detect early cancer whereas lifestyle change can prevent cancer forming.
The WHO is recommending that people do 30 minutes exercise on five days per week. This measure alone could prevent about 25% of breast and colon cancers. In addition to this, regular exercise reduces the risks of heart disease, diabetes and depression.
Are lifestyle measures a force field that guarantees you can’t get cancer or other illness? Of course the answer to that is they are not. There are other factors involved too. However the fact that your chances of getting cancer can be reduced by such a large percentage by measures you can easily do yourself at little or no cost would seem to make them no brainers.
Many will say I know all this As the Zen saying goes “To know and not to do is not yet to know.” In simplest terms you only get the benefit if you actually do it.
So as the global shoemaker says-Just do it.