We've often viewed getting cancer as luck of the draw. Other than eating enough fiber and avoiding smoking and too much sun exposure we haven't really seen it as having much relationship to lifestyle. Now, we're finding the way we live our lives has a significant effect on both the prevention of cancer and the course of the illness once it is diagnosed. In my two previous columns we looked at lifestyle connections to heart disease and diabetes. Now, let's look at lifestyle and cancer.
With the increased treatment success rates we are seeing for many forms of cancer, people are living longer and healthier lives through early detection and more effective treatments. Yet the American Cancer Society estimated for 2010 there would be more than one and half million new cases of cancer in the United States and more than 21,000 in Colorado alone. There are several lifestyle-cancer connections we are becoming more acutely aware of.
The American Cancer Society tells us about one-third of all cancers are diet and activity related. The standard call for 30 minutes a day of activity is important as so many of our jobs are increasingly sedentary. We also know that eating more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthier fats and less processed meats reduces cancer risks. Recent news articles and Breastcancer.org have raised awareness that overweight woman, especially after menopause have a greater risk of breast cancer. Being overweight also can increase the risk of the recurrence of breast cancer. The same risk applies to men and women for increasing the chance of cancers of the colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney and other organs.