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Healthy Lifestyles Matter

Practicing healthy lifestyle habits can be essential when it comes to lowering the risk of cancer. A balanced diet and regular exercise, for instance, are two keys to maintaining a healthy weight.

By staying at a healthy weight, you can help lower your risk of more than 10 common cancers, including:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Gynecologic cancers
  • And pancreatic cancer

Need help reaching or maintaining a healthy weight? View our resource sheet.

Here are some key practices that can play an important role in helping prevent cancer.

Exercise Regularly

Regular exercise is good for you. It can:

  • Boost your immune system
  • Decrease pain
  • Relax your body
  • And open your mind

Plus, it can help you maintain a healthy weight — and that can reduce your risk of cancer. Studies have shown being overweight increases your risk of 13 cancers, including liver, stomach, bladder, lung, breast and colorectal cancer. It can also increase your chances of a recurrence. Learn more at

Get Active

The American Cancer Society recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity every week.

For a moderate workout, try:

  • Brisk walking
  • Dancing
  • Gardening
  • Riding a bike

For a vigorous workout, try:

  • Swimming laps
  • Running
  • Hiking uphill
  • Jumping rope

*Limit the amount of time you sit or lie down while your exercise.

Eat Well

Fiber comes from plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Aim for at least 3.5-5 cups of colorful, plant-based foods daily. Choose to eat more “super foods.” These include apples, asparagus, blueberries, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage, cherries, carrots, garlic, kale, grapes, walnuts, pulses (beans, peas, lentils), grapefruit, raspberries, winter squash, soy, spinach, tomatoes, strawberries, and herbal teas among others!

Fast Foods

These foods are high in calories, salt, fat and added sugars, which makes it easy to overdo it. Too many calories can cause excess weight gain and increase your risk for developing cancer.

Processed Meats

Eating too much of these meats has been linked to higher colorectal cancer risk. Keep your red meat intake to 12-18 ounces per week. Processed meats include deli meats, bacon, hot dogs, and sausages (even poultry-based ones) and should be eaten infrequently or cut from your diet altogether.

Lose Weight

Extra weight is a risk factor for several types of cancer. The body mass index (BMI) is a screening tool used to identify if you are in a healthy weight range. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal.

Sometimes, physical activity and dieting may not be enough to achieve a healthy weight. In those cases, the trusted caregivers at Enloe’s Bariatric Program are here for you.

Avoid Smoking

Not smoking and taking steps to reduce your stress can also lower your risk of cancer.

Reduce Alcohol Intake

Drinking alcohol increases your risk for several different types of cancer. The less alcohol you consume, the lower your risk of developing cancer will be. If you do choose to drink, limit your intake to no more than two drinks for men or one for women each day. One drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of spirits.

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Sweetened drinks contain empty calories that contribute to weight gain. Choose unsweetened sparkling water, herbal teas, or water infused with fruit or cucumber slices. Coffee and both black and green teas all contain polyphenols, which provide cancer-fighting effects.

Understand Your Screening Options

Cancer prevention starts with you. It’s important to practice healthy behaviors that reduce the risk of cancer, and remain aware of any signs that something may not be normal. However, even before you develop symptoms, regular screenings are vital to cancer prevention.

In the past 20 years, the number of cancer survivors has increased, thanks in part to cancer screenings. They help your care team find cancer when it’s easier to treat. For instance, a mammogram can detect breast cancer before you feel a lump, and there are several colon cancer tests that can be used to prevent or find the disease.

Do you have a family history of cancer? Ask your doctor about genetic testing. Enloe offers it and:

  • Lifetime breast cancer risk assessment
  • Evaluation for hereditary cancer syndromes
  • Follow-up

Learn more in our Cancer Risk Assessment brochure.

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