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Fighting Preventable Cancers: Resolve to Live a Healthy Lifestyle

Publication: Houston Community News, Houston
01/30/2013

By Dhatri Kodali, M.D.
 


Can living a healthier lifestyle prevent cancer? Researchers suggest the answer is yes. A World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research study concluded that one in three common cancers may be preventable. Given the opportunity to control the future of your well-being, resolving to make proactive healthy choices this year makes a lot of sense.

Starting the year on the right foot can be a challenge since winter’s shorter, less active days often accompany larger plates of richer foods. But researchers believe many cancers and other diseases may be prevented by adopting healthy habits. As the hectic, and perhaps indulgent, holiday season transitions to the new year, Texas Oncology offers suggestions for a prevention-focused lifestyle:

Eat Right
Managing your weight and eating a balanced diet may bolster your body’s defenses against cancer and other illnesses. Winter wardrobes may hide holiday pounds, but it’s important to reduce calories, limit the intake of sugars, saturated fats, trans fats, and alcohol, and to eat nutritious foods like fresh produce. The American Cancer Society recommends:

  • substitute whole grains for refined or processed grains;
  • limit processed and red meats, foods preserved with salt, and fat;
  • have no more than one alcoholic drink daily for women and two for men;
  • eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily;
  • drink plenty of water.


Get Check-ups and Screenings
Resolve to get regular check-ups and health screenings. Ask your doctor when you should have important cancer screenings, and then schedule them. A recent study found that most Americans aren’t aware of when they should get mammograms and colonoscopies. Screenings can detect cancers at their earliest and most treatable stages. Also, conduct regular self-exams and check your skin for changes in moles, freckles, and other marks each month.

Stay Active
Don’t let winter’s shorter, cooler days be an excuse for avoiding physical activity. Whether you prefer hiking, biking, playing outside with the kids, or an indoor option, it’s easy to stay active during relatively mild Texas winters. An estimated 25 to 30 percent of several major cancers, including colon, postmenopausal breast, endometrial, kidney, and esophageal cancers, are associated with obesity and lack of physical activity.

Save Your Skin
Winter offers less time in the sun, but there’s no off season for sun protection. Avoid improper exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, but it is preventable by taking protection measures such as using sunscreen and covering up the skin. Parents should remember that children also need protection from the sun.

Quit Smoking
Some New Year’s resolutions are worth repeating. For the 3.2 million Texans who smoke, quitting should always be on the list. Eighty percent of lung cancer mortalities are smoking related, and half of lifetime smokers will die from tobacco-related disease. Research consistently shows that smoking cessation is paramount to lung health. Smokers who quit are more likely to live healthier, longer lives, while decreasing lung cancer risk.

That new gym membership can be an important step in adopting a healthier lifestyle this year – if it’s a permanent, rather than fleeting, addition to your routine. As we turn the calendar page to a new year, Texas Oncology urges you to adopt these simple, effective suggestions for making a fresh start toward living a healthier life.

For more information about cancer prevention, please visit www.TexasOncology.com or call 1-888-864-I CAN (4226).

Dr. Dhatri Kodali is a medical oncologist at Texas Oncology – Deke Slayton Cancer Center, 501 Medical Center Blvd, in Webster, and at Texas Oncology – Texas City, 1125 North Highway 3, Suite 150, in Texas City.

 This story originally appeared in the Pasadena Citizen, Bay Area Citizen, Friendswood Journal, Pearland Journal, Cleburne Times-Review, and Cypress Creek Mirror. To view this story, please click here.