That’s today. All over the world and the internet there are events, seminars, online discussions, panels to talk about cancer. To all of this, I humbly offer my 2 cents.
Cancer. It’s big and complicated, and above all, scary. During my twelve years in the cancer community, I have been amazed at the knowledge gained. Some of the discoveries – genetics and cell types – are astounding, but have not necessarily translated into longer lives. Not yet. When I get frustrated at the rate of change, I try to think back to our knowledge of cancer 25 years ago, or even 10. No doubt, we have a long, long way to go – we need more research; we need more progress – but we’re not where we were.
Part of what we have learned over the years is that choices we each make can have a big impact on our individual cancer risk. According to the American Cancer Society in their 2012 “Cancer Facts and Figures,” one third of all cancer deaths are related to smoking. Another third of all cancer deaths are associated with lack of physical activity and obesity. In addition, physical activity has been linked in numerous studies to improved outcomes for certain cancers (studies by Meyerhardt, Giovanucci; Kenfield, Stampfer; Holmes, Chen; and many more). Another benefit of regular physical activity is improved quality of life issues for people during and after cancer treatments.
Choices. Decisions we make every day. Things that are completely within our control can have a huge impact on our cancer risk and outcomes.
This is what we know. For all the uncertainty and the unknown about cancer, we know that lifestyle choices do have a big impact. You won’t be perfect – none of us are. But small changes can matter.
Make healthier food choices. Eat more vegetables and fruit, less sugary snacks and processed foods. Again, you don’t have to be perfect, just try to make better choices at least some of the time.
Get some exercise! Try to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise – like walking – most days of the week. If 30 minutes is too much, break it up into shorter segments. Those are the recommendations of the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and so many others. Those recommendations are based on sound science. Those are not recommendations to turn you into an athlete or make you look a particular way. They are recommendations for overall health.
So, for World Cancer Day, for today, make a better choice. For today. For tomorrow.
(for more studies on exercise & lifestyle and cancer, please visit the Life-Cise News page)