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Get more exercise; cut down on red and processed meats; avoid alcohol: These are key steps you can take to lower your risk for cancer, according to new guidelines published Tuesday that underscore the importance of physical activity and healthy eating habits in cancer prevention.
With excess body weight, physical inactivity, poor nutrition and alcohol responsible for about 18 percent of all new cancer cases in the U.S., experts say food and exercise are two weapons individuals have in the fight against cancer — the country's second-leading cause of death. Factor in smoking, which causes about 19 percent of cancers, and at least 42 percent of the over 1.8 million new cancer cases expected in 2020 could be prevented with changes in behavior.
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"Adopting a healthy lifestyle … can make a big difference in reducing the risk; it's not insignificant,” says Laura Makaroff, senior vice president of prevention and early detection at the American Cancer Society (ACS), the organization that published the updated guidelines in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
Here are 10 ways you can reduce your risk for cancer, based on ACS recommendations:
1. Aim for 300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week
Guidelines from 2012 called for a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise each week. Now, experts say that more is better, and that 300 minutes of weekly moderate-intensity activity (or just a little more than 40 minutes per day) is “optimal” when it comes to reducing cancer risks. If more intense workouts are your thing, strive for a weekly total of 75 to 150 minutes. Physical inactivity is linked to a number of cancers, including colon, female breast and endometrial (lining of the uterus) cancers.