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Do Diet and Exercise Really Prevent Cancer?

A healthy diet and regular exercise are good for you. It’s a message you hear everywhere, from your doctor to the media. Many people also claim that diet and exercise can prevent developing or redeveloping cancer.

Is this true? What would you need to do to get these benefits?

Do They Prevent Cancer?

Studies suggest that about 20% of all cancers in the US are related to being overweight, physically inactive, and having poor nutrition. An unhealthy lifestyle impact:

  • inflammation
  • the body’s healing process
  • hormone production
  • and much more

For example, overweight people tend to produce excess insulin, which can stimulate the growth of cancerous cells.

So, do diet and exercise help prevent certain kinds of cancer? Yes! However, even with a healthy lifestyle it’s important to stay tuned into your body. This is especially true if you have a history of cancer. Bring up any health concerns with your physician or pancreatic cancer surgeon.

How Can You Prevent Cancer?

If you are not at a healthy weight, talk to your doctor or a registered dietician about how to achieve that. Don’t be discouraged if you are greatly overweight. Losing just 5% of your body weight has been linked to a number of health benefits. Focus on building healthy habits one step at a time.

What you eat is in many ways as important as how much you eat. People can lose weight on an all candy bar diet as long as they reduce their daily calories. However, this is neither healthy nor sustainable. Empty calories and highly processed foods may actually increase your cancer risk.

Instead, try to eat:

  • colorful fruits and vegetables
  • unprocessed whole grains
  • lean proteins

You don’t have to completely give up other foods you love. Instead, make those occasional treats and not everyday meals.

For exercise, it’s recommended to get 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity a day. The good news here is that ‘moderate’ depends on the person. If you’ve gotten your heart rate up and can talk in short sentences, then you’re in the right zone.

For some people, a slow walk on a treadmill while watching their favorite TV show may be just the ticket. For others, pulling on running shoes and jogging around the neighborhood may count as ‘moderate exercise. The trick is to find activities you enjoy at a pace that challenges you but doesn’t leave you wiped out.

Talk to the Professionals

If you’re recovering from cancer, it’s important to talk to medical professionals about your health goals and concerns. Your pancreatic cancer surgeon and others in your treatment team can advise you. With their help, you can achieve a healthier lifestyle.