Simple changes can reduce cancer risk

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, May 2, 2018

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The word cancer strikes fear. Fear because we all know of friends or family members who have dealt with the disease, and we are afraid that we could be a victim, too.

The American Institute for Cancer Research states that cancer cases could be reduced by one-third if everyone ate a healthy diet, was physically active every day and maintained a healthy weight.

For the vast majority of Americans, taking control of one’s life to achieve these behaviors means lifestyle changes. It may sound complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.

The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas indicates that a good starting point is to make dietary changes by choosing a varied meal plan and reducing the serving sizes of food. When selecting meat and meat-alternate foods, select more plant-based foods and/or lean meat choices from the leg or loin cuts. Select poultry without skin. Fresh fish is another good option. Keep serving sizes to the size of a deck of cards.

Whole grain breads, cereals, pasta and rice are all good sources of fiber. Make an effort to eat a variety of dark green leafy and orange vegetables, and brightly colored fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, citrus fruits and melons.

A diet high in fruits and vegetables has been linked to a reduced risk of cancers of the colon, esophagus, lung and stomach.

Set a goal to be physically active every day for at least 30 minutes. It can be as simple as walking, gardening and doing household chores that require you to move. Research shows that activity can keep our hormone levels healthy, which may play an important role in reducing our cancer risk.

For the past several weeks, more than 160 participants have been making great efforts to raise their hormone levels by taking part in Walk Across Texas – an eight-week walking program made up of teams of eight members. Teams have logged over 33,000 miles. The program is drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t continue to use Walk Across Texas as a motivation tool to increase your physical activity.

Simply log on to walkacrosstexas.tamu.edu; enter yourself or team, begin walking or other physical activity and report mileage on the website weekly.

For information on reducing your cancer risk, call the Extension office, 940-627-3341.

Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.

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