With 2015 coming to a close and the festive season almost over, many of us are starting to feel those extra serves of Christmas pudding catching up to our waistline. It’s time to start setting goals to improve our health and lifestyle in the New Year. But we’ve all been here before, we’ve all set New Year’s resolutions that last a week or a couple of months at best. So how do we pick the right goals with long term benefits and stick them out in 2016 and beyond? This may come as a surprise, but there are some simple lifestyle choices that you can make that will also help cut your cancer risk.
One third of cancers, that is 37,000 Australian cancer cases, could be prevented each year through lifestyle change. As we move into 2016, it’s time we bust the myth that everything gives you cancer and do more to reduce cancer risk by giving up smoking, protecting yourself from the sun, maintaining a healthy body weight, being physical active, eating a balanced diet and reducing your alcohol.
Our Cancer Prevention team have done the homework for you and have come up with 6 tips to help you kick start the New Year and cut your cancer risk.
1. Quit smoking
One in eight cancers could be avoided if no one smoked. It’s never too late to quit. Set a quit date. Get support from your family and friends, speak to your GP, or use nicotine replacement therapy (such as patches or gum) or prescription medication to help reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms. Avoid temptations. Reward yourself. For more information visit www.icanquit.com.au or call the Quitline on 13 18 48.
2. Protect your skin from UV exposure
Australia has among the highest rates of skin cancer and melanoma in the world. Slip on protective clothing, slop on sunscreen, slap on a hat, seek shade and slide on sunglasses when the UV level is three and above.
3. Maintain a healthy body weight
Most people don’t think of being overweight as a risk factor for cancer however 3,917 cancer cases are attributable to this. Maintain a healthy body weight by eating a healthy diet, watching your portion sizes and balancing the energy (kilojoules) from food and drink with the energy you use up through exercise.
4. Be active for at least 30 mins each day
1,814 cancer cases are related to insufficient physical inactivity. Aim for around 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity that makes you puff and pant or 60 minutes of moderate intensity activity, like walking, each day. Find ways to make exercise enjoyable rather than being a chore, such as getting together with friends for a walk, fitness class or swim.
5. Consume a healthy diet
7,000 new cancer cases a year are attributable to poor diets including low fruit, vegetable and fibre intake, and eating too much red and processed meats. Ensure you eat a diet rich in wholegrain breads and cereals and enjoy two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables each day, easily achieved by serving salad or veg with every main meal and starting early by adding fruit or veg at breakfast time.
6. Limit alcohol intake
Drinking alcohol is directly linked to chronic diseases, including cancer. We recommend that if you do drink, you should follow the NHMRC alcohol guidelines of no more than two standard drinks a day.
Wishing you a very happy and healthy New Year! See you in 2016.