Pratt: Focus in on the lifestyle factors that help prevent cancer

Most cancers are preventable, caused by three lifestyle factors—poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking.

What percentage of cancers would you think are preventable?

The National Cancer Institute in America reports that up to 75 per cent of cancers are caused by three lifestyle factors—poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking.

All of them can be modified, eliminated or controlled in order to help prevent cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading and most preventable cause of cancer death in North America for both men and women.

Tobacco use accounts for 30 per cent of all cancer deaths and 87 per cent of all lung cancer deaths.

And it is not dependent on the type of tobacco (cigarette, cigar or smokeless) used.

In B.C., we are now fortunate enough to have a government funded program to supply smoking cessation aids free of charge and support tobacco users through the quitting process.

To register for the program, get more information from your physician.

Other methods to aid smoking cessation include acupuncture, laser therapy, hypnosis, herbal remedies and behaviour modification—all of which are a safe and effective way to aid smoking cessation.


One of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of cancer is to modify your diet.

Foods that are low in nutrients, but high in fats and sugars are linked to in increase risk of many types of cancers.

A diet high in saturated fats and sugars promotes inflammation that can increase your risk for cancer, as well as, feed cancer cells.

Also, foods in our diet that are highly chemically modified to increase the taste, but decrease the nutritional value, can increase your risk for cancer.

To decrease your cancer risk, consume a diet high in fibre, rich in antioxidants and low in inflammatory sugars and saturated fats.

An example and a cancer preventing diet is one that is high in fruits and veggies (which provide antioxidants, cancer fighting phytochemicals and fibre), high in good fats (like fish oils and vegetable oils) and moderate intake of lean meats.


Maintaining a healthy weight might lower the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney.

In addition to controlling your weight, the physical activity helps to lower inflammatory markers linked to cancer, regulate insulin and sugar levels that cancer uses to grown and metabolize excess hormones, which are cancer promoting.

A recent study showed a strong inverse correlation between regular exercise and chance of developing breast cancer risk.

What was interesting in this study was that regardless of the exercise, there was a decreased risk, but the more vigorous the exercise, the greater the benefit and the authors concluded that physical activity is primary prevention for breast cancer.

For cancer prevention, strive to get at least 150 minutes a week of aerobic activity physical activity. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine—and if you can do more, even better, but the most benefit is achieved with smaller amounts at regular intervals over 150 minutes once a week.

Even though there are cancers that are not preventable, or happen without just cause, try to include some form of lifestyle modification to help prevent your risk of a preventable disease.

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