Up to half of cancer cases in the United States could be prevented through healthy lifestyle behaviors. Some of these behaviors include:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Eating a plant-based diet
- Staying active
- Not smoking or using tobacco
But these actions don’t just lower your cancer risk. They can have other positive impacts on your health too.
“These steps aren’t like a drug that targets just one thing,” says Susan Lakoski, M.D., associate professor of cancer prevention and cardiology at MD Anderson Cancer Center. “There are actually many health benefits.”
Here are some of the other health benefits of lowering your cancer risk.
Improved heart health
Eating healthy and getting the recommended amount of exercise can reduce your cancer risk and improve your heart health.
“To me, exercise is one of the best ways to keep the heart healthy. Studies show that it is one of the most powerful tools we have,” Lakoski says.
A healthy heart leads to decreased stroke and heart attack risk, improved blood flow and increased energy. Plus, your body will be able to regulate its temperature more efficiently.
Exercise is one of the most powerful tools we have.
That physical activity you’re getting to lower your cancer risk can lower stress too. Exercise pumps up your endorphins, the parts of your brain that help generate a good mood.
Exercise also can lower symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety.
Experts recommend you get a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, five times a week.
Lower chance of developing diabetes
Eating healthy, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight are all an important part of lowering your cancer risk. And they can help lower your risk for diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the body’s blood glucose levels are above normal. This can lead to serious health complications, including heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and amputations.
Optimized immune system
Eating a nutritious diet won’t just lower your cancer risk. Getting the right amount of nutrients and vitamins can also help you build a strong immune system. This will help you fight flu, arthritis, allergies and other health problems.
Eating a balanced diet made up of whole grains, fruits and vegetables can help manage your energy level. And regular exercise can improve strength and endurance, which, in turn, gives you more energy.
“People often think you would be more tired after you exercise,” Laskoski says. “But that opposite is actually true.”
Longer life expectancy
Maintaining a healthy weight, eating right, staying active and staying away from tobacco can all help you live a healthier, longer life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that practicing a healthy lifestyle makes your risk of premature death from cancer 66% less likely. But it also makes a death from cardiovascular disease 65% less likely and death from other causes 57% less likely.
“Everyone wants a quick fix,” Laskoski says. “But if you take these steps, you’re more likely to see a longer, healthier life overall.”
Request an appointment at MD Anderson's Lyda Hill Cancer Prevention Center online or call 877-632-6789.