Cancer risk: The habit which ‘reduces the risk of 13 different types of cancer’

Adele Roberts says her cancer diagnosis 'was a shock'

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Not all cancers can be prevented, but there are proven ways you can reduce your risk. There are some known risk factors, though having one or more risk factors doesn’t mean that you will definitely get cancer. The NHS says around one in two people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime.

Cancer Research UK says: “Keeping active can help you lose weight or keep a healthy weight, which reduces the risk of 13 different types of cancer.”

It says that if you’re exercising a lot, it can help prevent breast and bowel cancer.

The charity says: “Sitting or lying down for long periods of time throughout the day isn’t good for our health. Even people who do lots of exercise might spend too much time being inactive during the rest of the day.

“It’s not yet clear if spending lots of time sitting or lying down can increase the risk of cancer. This is an area of research that is still developing. Most studies haven’t taken weight or physical activity fully into account. This means that the results could be misleading.”

The National Cancer Institute says: “Physical activity is defined as any movement that uses skeletal muscles and requires more energy than resting.

“Physical activity can include walking, running, dancing, biking, swimming, performing household chores, exercising, and engaging in sports activities.”

It says that evidence linking higher physical activity to lower cancer risk comes mainly from observational studies, in which individuals report on their physical activity and are followed for years for diagnoses of cancer.

It states: “Although observational studies cannot prove a causal relationship, when studies in different populations have similar results and when a possible mechanism for a causal relationship exists, this provides evidence of a causal connection.”

The Cancer Council of Victoria says that up to one hour of moderate activity daily or 30 minutes of vigorous activity is recommended to cut your cancer risk.

It explains: “’Moderate intensity activity’ is anything causing a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate (like brisk walking, mowing the lawn, medium-paced swimming or cycling).”

Meanwhile: “’Vigorous activity’ makes you ‘huff and puff’. It can be defined as exercise at 70 percent to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate and includes activities like football, squash, netball, basketball, aerobics, circuit training, jogging, fast cycling and rowing.”

It also says: “To reduce the risk of certain cancers we recommend a healthy body weight, regular exercise and a healthy diet.”

Indeed, the World Cancer Research Fund says: “Eating too many high-calorie foods – particularly processed foods that are high in fat, starches or sugar – can cause us to be overweight or obese.

“Eating a ‘Western type’ diet (a diet that contains high amounts of sugars, meat and fat) also increases the risk of becoming overweight or obese, which in turn is a cause of many common cancers.”

It adds: “In general, the healthiest foods are those that haven’t been processed. This means that they haven’t had extra sugar or fat added to them and the fibre is more likely to still be intact.

“Instead of eating processed foods, try to base your meals on vegetables, wholegrains, pulses and fruit.”

The Government recommends that people eating more than 90g of red and processed meat a day should reduce it to 70g or less.

Although it is very difficult to research the link between diet and cancer, studies have shown certain foods can definitely affect the risk of bowel cancer.

Cancer Research UK says that eating a diet with lots of foods high in fibre reduces your risk of bowel cancer. The charity says that around nine in 10 people in the UK are not meeting the recommended amount of fibre a day.

The NHS says that government guidelines say our dietary fibre intake should increase to 30g a day, as part of a healthy balanced diet. Most adults are only eating an average of about 18g a day.

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