The incidence and etiology of many forms of cancer and the development of cardiovascular disease run on a parallel course as they are both the result of lifestyle habits that are well within our control. It comes as no big surprise that scientists have created a list of seven healthy practices that can dramatically lower the risk of developing either one of these illnesses that account for more than half of all deaths in the US each year. Many of these identified lifestyle habits fall within the realm of common sense, yet millions of men, women and children fail to regularly follow more than one or two habits, placing them at considerable risk for future disease and early mortality.
Lifestyle modifications slash chronic disease risk by lowering inflammation and improving health biometrics
A group of researchers from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago have published the results of a study in the American Heart Association journal, Circulation that explains how following the American Heart Association's Life's Simple 7 steps to reduce your risk for heart disease can also help prevent cancer. Lead study author, Dr. Laura J. Rasmussen-Torvik said “We were gratified to know adherence to the Life's Simple 7 goals was also associated with reduced incidence of cancer… this can provide a clear, consistent message about the most important things people can do to protect their health and lower their overall risk for chronic diseases.”
The team identified the seven critical lifestyle habits that promote a healthy heart as: being physically active, keeping a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, keeping blood pressure down, regulating blood sugar levels and not smoking. To assess the impact of these habits on cancer risk, the researchers analyzed the health records of 13,253 men and women who were involved in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, which tracked the seven risk factors and the participants’ health outcomes since 1987.
Dramatically Lower Your Risk for Developing Chronic Life-Threatening Diseases
The participants were interviewed at the outset of the study to establish how closely they followed the established heart disease lifestyle risk factors. After a period of twenty years, researchers reviewed hospital records and cancer registries and discovered that 2,880 of the participants were diagnosed with cancer of the lung, colon, rectum, prostate or breast. Scientists found that the incidence of cancer closely paralleled following fewer lifestyle habits, as compared to participants that did not develop the illness.
The team determined that people who followed six of the seven health metrics had a 51 percent lower cancer risk than the participants who did not meet any of the steps. When smoking was removed as a factor, participants who followed five to six of the health steps had a 25 percent lower cancer risk. Dr. Rasmussen-Torvik concluded “This adds to the strong body of research suggesting that it is never late to change, and that if you make changes like quitting smoking and improving your diet, you can reduce your risk for both cardiovascular disease and cancer.” Health-conscious individuals already follow the identified healthy lifestyle practices, but it certainly makes sense to ensure that each of these habits is at the core of your daily regimen to dramatically lower risk of heart disease and cancer.