Poor Diet, Lack Of Exercise up Cancer Risk

Published May 8th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Poor diet and lack of exercise are related to just as many cancer cases as smoking, according to a new statement by the Food and Nutrition Science Alliance (FANSA), a joint committee whose members include the nation's premier organizations of nutrition experts, and as reported by the msnbc.com, Saturday. 

Dennis Savaiano, chairman of FANSA and a professor of nutrition at Purdue University, said that while most Americans are aware of the risk of cancer posed by tobacco, the significance of other lifestyle habits is often overlooked.  

He noted that about one-third of cancer cases in the United States are related to tobacco, one-third to poor diet and lack of exercise and one-third to genetic and other factors. 

According to the msnbc.com, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) released a major review of diet and cancer risk two years ago. That report, prepared by an international panel of experts, linked diet to 30 to 40 percent of cancers. 

Both AICR and FANSA believe that some types of cancer are more influenced by diet than others. Most researchers consider cancers of the colon, stomach and esophagus among the most preventable through healthy eating and exercise habits. These are the cancers that are most readily changed in studies of people who move from places that are low-risk for cancer to areas that are at high-risk - and vice versa. The two groups suggest that 70 to 75 percent of colon cancers may be preventable through diet, while 33 to 50 percent of breast cancer may also be prevented the same way. 




FANSA's recent statement urges Americans to change their diets in order to reduce the cancer risk they face. The alliance recommends four specific steps; 

Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes, reducing fat from all food sources, avoiding obesity through both sound diet and moderate or vigorous exercise and limiting or abstaining from alcohol. 

According to msnbc.com, these guidelines are in agreement with those that AICR advocates. 



Of course, avoiding tobacco reduces more than the risk of cancer. Smokers are twice as likely to have a heart attack as nonsmokers. Similarly, regular exercise and the balanced plant-based diet recommended to lower cancer risk are also vital steps to protect against heart disease. Limiting saturated fat and sodium and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables are vital strategies for controlling blood cholesterol and hypertension, major causes of heart disease for non-smokers.  

Unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity share responsibility for the incidence of cancer with smoking. Yet eating well and exercising do not minimize the importance of avoiding tobacco. Indeed, the AICR dietary guidelines specifically caution that diet cannot replace the importance of avoiding tobacco in every form. The AICR report concludes, "Cancer is mostly a preventable disease. The chief causes of cancer are use of tobacco and inappropriate diets." 

For the three-fourths of the population who don't smoke and may think they are either safe from cancer or cannot lower their risk, nothing could be further from the truth -- albawaba.com  

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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