Page last updated: Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Healthy Lifestyle May Reduce Women's Risk of Developing Cancer
Post-menopausal women who follow recommended dietary and lifestyle guidelines may reduce their risk of developing and dying from cancer, with those in highest compliance experiencing the best outcomes.

Conversely, those women who followed one or none of the nine recommended guidelines for diet and lifestyle had a 35 percent higher risk of developing cancer and a 42 percent greater risk of dying from cancer than women who adhered to at least six of the recommendations considered for the study.

The study, published in the July issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, examined data collected from 29,564 women, aged 55 to 69 upon entry into the study, who were followed over a 13-year period to determine the impact of dietary lifestyle factors on the incidence and death rate from cancer.

“Our study suggests that older women may be able to have a fairly large impact on their cancer risk by not smoking, controlling body weight, exercising and eating a healthy, balanced diet. Besides having an impact for individuals, following these recommendations would also have a large impact on reducing cancer in our communities as a whole” said James R. Cerhan, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of epidemiology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn.

Dr. Cerhan’s team considered nine recommendations developed by the American Institute for Cancer Research, and evaluated women’s cancer risk and other health outcomes based on how many of those categories the women followed as part of their normal lifestyle.

Those recommendations included having maximum body mass index less than 25 kg/m2; having gained no more than 11 pounds since age 18; engaging in daily moderate and weekly vigorous physical activity; eating of 5 or more servings of vegetables and fruit daily; consuming more than 400 grams (about 14 ounces) of complex carbohydrate per day; limiting alcohol intake to less than 14 grams per day (one drink); limiting red meat consumption to less than 80 grams per day (about 3 ounces); limiting daily consumption of fat to no more than 30 percent of total caloric intake; and limiting use of sodium to less than 2,400 milligrams per day.

Source: James Cerhan et al. Adherence To The AICR Cancer Prevention Recommendations And Subsequent Morbidity And Mortality In The Iowa Women’s Health Study Cohort. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention 2004;13

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