Lifestyle Cancer Risk
Written by Susannah Keppo, Exercise Physiologist at Ashfield Article from July 2017
The Impact Of Your Lifestyle On Cancer Risk
Recently I was watching a documentary about the effects of lifestyle on cancer and risk of developing cancer. It discusses more so on what the patient can do themselves to improve their chances or lower risk of cancer rather than simply accepting that there is nothing they can do once they have been diagnosed with cancer. The documentary is not against conventional cancer treatments but how the patient has the power to change lifestyle habits to improve their health and cancer diagnosis.
The thing that got me interested was the ongoing theme of empowerment and self-management, which is not something I would assume people necessarily feel when diagnosed with cancer. It’s taking a holistic approach to health in all areas, not just doing regular exercise but making small changes to achieve better nutritional habits, stress management and better sleep hygiene. All of these areas contribute to one’s health and is much more than completing two or three hours of structured exercise a week.
In terms of this documentary, it reported that many people diagnosed with cancer feel there is nothing they can control or do to improve their diagnosis aside from using the traditional medicinal and chemotherapy treatments that their oncologist recommend for them. Keeping in mind many of these cancer treatments weaken or supress the immune system, people can feel there is nothing they can do to try and improve or simply maintain their immune system. Adopting healthier nutritional habits such as consuming more vegetables, drinking more water and reducing sugar and processed foods will help improve immunity.
Exercise has many benefits on aiding cancer and its treatment:
- Exercising regularly such as going for a walk every day or doing resistance training will help your ability to recover from any surgery or cancer treatments
- Exercise has been proven in some studies to actually enhance some forms of cancer treatments
- Exercise helps activate the body’s natural immune cells thus helping your body fight off cancer cells
- Exercise helps fight feelings of fatigue by improved cardiovascular fitness
The documentary also discusses these benefits for those without cancer as well – helping your body to be the healthiest it can be to reduce your risk of developing it in the future. So why wait until you are diagnosed with a chronic health condition to change your lifestyle? Speak to your exercise physiologist who can discuss how to make small, manageable lifestyle changes.