4 ways to protect yourself from cancer
The Doctors - | 10/22/2010, 7 a.m.
The statistics are sobering: An estimated 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year, and 570,000 of them will die from it. But hundreds of thousands of them can change their fate, experts say, if they eat better and exercise more, maintain a healthy weight and stop smoking. Here are strategies to help you do just that:
Balance your nutrition.
Make two-thirds of every meal fruits, vegetables, beans or grains. No single food can protect you from breast cancer; no single nutrient can ward off colon cancer. But scientists believe it's the combination of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals in a mostly plant-based diet that work together to help fight cancer. That's one reason experts recommend splitting your plate into two-thirds plant foods, one-third meat. The other: It helps prevent weight gain.
Watch your waist.
The bigger it is -- regardless of your weight -- the higher your risk of death from cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease, a study of more than 100,000 people shows. Visceral fat, which lives deep in the abdomen, is linked to high cholesterol, high insulin and high blood pressure. For women, more than 35 inches around indicates you're at increased risk; for men, it's 40 inches. The solution? Eat right and exercise more. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise five days a week.
Don't smoke, even a little.
Just one cigarette a week can genetically alter cells in the lining of your airways and raise your risk of lung cancer, according to new research published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Secondhand smoke was found to have the same effect.
Do skip alcohol.
Alcohol is a well-established risk factor for breast cancer, in addition to cancer of the mouth and esophagus, but new science now strongly links it to certain types of breast tumors. That said, studies also show moderate alcohol intake (no more than one drink a day for women, two for men) may help protect against heart disease. Talk to your doctor -- he can help weigh the risks/benefits.
The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, and plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.