Healthy Choices

Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions Could Save Your Life

In case you need a reason to keep up your New Year’s resolutions – to exercise more, to eat better- researchers say that healthy choices may lead to a reduction of about one-third in cancer risk.

Researchers led by Professor Peter Elwood of Cardiff University, UK examined preliminary data from the UK Biobank, a prospective study of half a million subjects.

They sorted through the data to identify healthy behaviors – which include not smoking, maintaining a low BMI, participating in regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet and limiting alcohol intake – and compared them to the risk of cancer over several years.

Together, the collection of healthy behaviors contributed to a total reduction of about one-third in cancer risk and possibly a greater reduction in cancer mortality.

These results may not sound surprising. Most people are aware that healthy behaviors have some general benefit – otherwise they wouldn’t be “healthy.” The real problem is translating the vague idea of lifestyle choices being “good” into useful evidence, which is what this study provides.

To be successful, though, it can help to start small.

“Perhaps the advice to take up one additional healthy behaviour is the most acceptable message for most subjects,” Elwood said. “In our study each additional healthy behavior was associated with a reduction of about eight percent in cancer, independent of the effects of the other behaviors.”

“The take-home message is that healthy behaviors can have a truly tangible benefit. A healthy lifestyle has many benefits additional to cancer reduction – it costs nothing, has no undesirable side effects…. and is better than any pill!”



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