Happy Monday, Grazers!
If you haven’t already heard, we’re in the midst of a fight.
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The Amazin’ Fight against Breast Cancer kicked off last week – and we need your help. All you have to do is enjoy some limited edition Pink Raspberry Granola, and a donation will be made towards breast cancer screening and prevention. It’s an absolutely delicious way to give back! Click HERE to learn more and get in on the fight now!
Fighting cancer is certainly a team effort – but it’s important not to lose sight of our individual fights against cancer. It’s time to take responsibility for our health, and do what we can for our bodies to keep cancer at bay.
In our last post we talked about foods that can help with preventing cancer, when taken as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. This week, we discuss what this healthy lifestyle looks like, with 4 lifestyle changes that have been shown to be effective in preventing cancer.
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Stay away from cigarette smoke
Time and again, research has shown that there is no safe level of tobacco consumption. Smoking is not just linked to lung cancer, but to cancers of the larynx, mouth, esophagus, throat, bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas, colon and rectum, and cervix. That’s a lot of possible cancers linked to one risk factor.
With evidence like that, there’s no need to mince words. If you smoke, quit. People who quit smoking, even after many years of active smoking, immediately increase their life expectancy, even if cancer does develop. It’s never too late.
If you don’t actively smoke, pay attention to your secondhand smoke intake. It may be as simple as insisting on sitting in the non-smoking area of a restaurant, or making the effort to move when you’re seated close to someone who is smoking. Remember, what goes into your body is nobody’s responsibility but your own!
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When discussing cancer prevention, it’s impossible to steer away from the topic of a healthy diet. In general, a good rule of thumb is to include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables – the more colourful the better. As we mentioned in our previous blog post, the pigments that give fruits and vegetables their colour are incredibly valuable antioxidants. Interestingly, research has shown that the same benefits can’t be obtained from antioxidant supplements (e.g. in the form of pills) – they’re only effective when consumed in their whole food form.
Another good rule to follow is to eat fresh foods whenever possible – especially when it comes to meat. Processed meats (like deli meat, sausages, nuggets, etc) have been linked to cancer development – plus, they’re usually also full of unhealthy fats and excessive salt, which isn’t good for our bodies anyway. Eating fresh also applies to local cuisine, with some research linking preserved foods like salted vegetables (kiam chai) and salted fish (ikan masin) to cancer development, whereas the fresh versions of these foods are nutritious and should be included in a balanced diet.
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In case we needed more proof of how exercise is good for our bodies (we don’t) – exercise has been shown to protect against colon and breast cancers (among others). For one, exercise helps in keeping body weight in a healthy range, as well as maintaining lean muscle mass. However, it is thought that exercise also plays a far more complex role in cancer prevention – regulating hormones and metabolism, calming inflammation, and boosting immunity.
And if you’re thinking exercise is only needed for those looking to lose weight, think again! Studies on physical activity and cancer prevention show that the greatest benefit is actually seen in people who are already at a normal weight range. So regardless of your baseline weight or activity level, get moving to protect your body against cancer! A little activity can go a long way – although the more you exercise (longer times and higher intensity), the stronger the protective effect!
Image source: Palm Beach Illustrated
In a sunny tropical climate like ours, it is remarkable that sunscreen is not a natural part of many people’s daily routines. However much we try to stay out of the blazing sun, exposure to UV rays is inevitable given that UV rays can travel through clothing, windows, and clouds (which means UV exposure even on rainy days!). It is this exposure to UV rays that can cause damage and aging of the skin, and eventually lead to skin cancer.
And so, it’s time to break out the sunscreen, and use it on all exposed skin – not just on our faces. Look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has both UVA and UVB protection and an SPF of at least 15. You can also look for umbrellas that have inbuilt UV protection, and use them when walking outdoors, especially between mid-morning and late afternoon, when UV radiation is at its highest.
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So there you have it - 4 simple lifestyle changes that can help to protect against cancer. No matter what your baseline risk, take the steps today to change your life - don't give cancer the chance to change it for you!
Have a great week, Grazers!