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Courtney Davis: Research shows cancer risks increase because of poor diet, lack of exercise

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Courtney Davis

Our everyday hustle and bustle can result in some poor choices made within our health. Poor eating habits, unhealthy meal options and lack of regular physical activity all help support bad habits. 

Courtney Davis
Courtney Davis

Research has shown that two of the main factors that increase a risk of cancer are actually due to a poor diet and lack of physical activity. Choosing to control your weight, becoming more active and eating healthier foods can get you back on track and help reduce the risk of cancer.

A healthy weight may be a challenge to stick by, but it is important to help reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. When our body weight increases, our hormone levels do, too. 

The elevated insulin and estrogen levels can stimulate the growth of cancer. Because women have a higher percent of body fat than men and also have higher amounts of estrogen, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women of all races in the United States. 

One of the best ways to check if you have a healthy weight is to check your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI is a calculated score based on your height and weight. A calculated number below 25 is considered a healthy weight. To calculate your BMI, visit www.bmi-calculator.net and speak with your doctor at your next appointment about what your number means.

Physical activity is recommended for everyone at any age. There are so many positive results from the effects of daily activity. Not only does the activity help with weight control but it also helps improve hormone levels and makes our body stronger by improving our immune system. 

The latest recommendations for adults are suggested at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Children are recommended to have at least 60 minutes each day at least three times a week. A body in motion will always stay in motion. Just adding a few more minutes to your usual activity can help decrease you chances for developing a chronic disease.

Along with physical activity, maintaining or improving your weight will improve your health and reduce your risk of cancer. Always choose foods and drinks with a higher nutritional value to help you maintain a healthy weight. 

Follow the suggested MyPlate recommendations of servings per food group. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables high in vitamins and minerals, choose lean protein options and choose whole grain starches for additional fiber. Limit your intake of sugary beverages; choose low-fat milk with your meals or naturally flavored water. Always try to cut back on larger portion sizes and high calorie foods.

The connection between physical activity and diet is not always in relation to cancer, but also other highly diagnosed chronic diseases. Cancer diagnosis can be affected by environmental factors, genetic predisposition, disease agents, and lifestyle choices.  Having good healthy habits will help maintain a healthful success. Plan out your nutritious meals per week, add fun activities to your routine and always stay focused on your preventative health.

For more information or ideas on building a healthy lunch, visit dinnertonight.org or call the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office in Denton County at at 940-349-2882.

COURTNEY DAVIS is the family and consumer sciences county extension agent with Texas AgriLife Extension. She can be reached at 940-349-2882 or via email at cmdavis@ag.tamu.edu.