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Our partners Breakthrough Cancer Research bring you 8 steps to lowering your risk of Cancer #mysmallchange

Pen Orla Dolan Glasses 3 min read

On the rare occasions when we allow ourselves to think about cancer and our risk in developing it, most of us resign ourselves to the fact that it is an inevitable consequence of genes and some habits such as smoking.

However, few of us take heed of the fact that a large proportion of cancers are entirely preventable by appropriate food, nutrition, physical activity and body fat. In fact, up to 67% of cancers of the mouth and throat, 75% of oesophageal (gullet) cancers, 40-45% of cancers of the stomach, pancreas, colon, large bowel and breast, 20% of cancers of prostate, liver and kidney cancers and 56% of cancers of womb are preventable by good nutrition and regular physical activity.

True, by now it should go without saying that smoking is a major risk factor for a large amount of cancers – it causes 90% of lung cancers and is implicated in many others. However quitting smoking is just one lifestyle factor that can reduce your risk.

But if there are thousands of websites, books and experts giving advice on how to prevent cancer through diet and lifestyle, then how can you know if you are taking the right advice?

Well the ‘bible’ on diet and cancer is an expert report prepared by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) that is endorsed by the World Health Organisation and several other renowned international bodies. It’s called ‘Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the prevention of cancer: a global perspective’ and this expert report represents the cumulative efforts of 200 scientists who reviewed the evidence linking diet to 17 different forms of cancer. Half a million studies were reviewed and whittled down to the 7,000 most relevant scientific studies and are consolidated and rated in the report.

The 8 Key Recommendations are:

Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight. (Keep weight low within the healthy range)
Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day. (Try to sit less and move more)
Limit consumption of energy dense foods and avoid sugary drinks. (Avoid high-calorie foods and sugary drinks)
Eat mostly foods of plant origin. (Eat more grains, veg, fruit and beans)
Limit consumption of red meats and avoid processed meats.
Limit Alcohol. If consumed at all, limit to 2 drinks for men & 1 for women/day. (For cancer prevention, don’t drink alcohol)
Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt. (Eat less salt and avoid mouldy grains and cereals)
Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer. (For cancer prevention, don’t rely on supplements)

A more detailed explanation on these recommendations and specific guideposts to follow can be found on the report website.

It is very empowering to know  that there are proven ways we can personally lower our risk in developing cancer. So now all we have to do is follow them!

Note: Thank you to Dr. Aoife Ryan Phd. Bsc, RD (School of Food & Nutritional Sciences, UCC) for her contributions to this article. 

For more information on the great work by Breakhthrough Cancer Research visit www.breakthroughcancerresearch.ie    

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Orla Dolan

Orla Dolan is a graduate of University College Cork and University of Limerick’s Kemmy Business School. She started her career as a scientist and then went on to work in Human Resources specifically in Workforce Development and HR systems in the Social and Health Sectors in the United States. While in Delta-T Group, a Mental Health, Behavioural Health, Social Service and Non Profit staffing agency, she developed and enforced standards for the front-end processes of the business in all States. She is HR accredited in both the US (SPHR) and Ireland (CIPD). On her return to Ireland in 2005 she was appointed Director of External Affairs for Cork Cancer Research Centre (CCRC). In 2011 she launched the charity Breakthrough Cancer Research which fundraises for CCRC of which she is now Head of Fundraising. She is a board member of the National Cancer Registry of Ireland.