Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in American adults, closely behind heart disease. While there are some risk factors for both that are beyond control—including genetics and age—scientific research has established there are a number of things you can do to help keep the big C at bay. Now, a study has identified one simple lifestyle habit that can help prevent both from occurring. Read on to find out what it is, as well as what the CDC says you can do about it—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have “Long” COVID and May Not Even Know It.
According to the study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, a heart-healthy lifestyle can help lower your risk of developing cancer—in addition to keeping heart disease away.
“CVD risk, as captured by traditional CVD risk factors, 10-year ASCVD risk score, and natriuretic peptide concentrations are associated with increased risk of future cancer,” the study concludes. “Conversely, a heart healthy lifestyle is associated with a lower risk of future cancer. These data suggest that the association between CVD and future cancer is attributable to shared risk factors.”
“We found an association between a heart-healthy lifestyle and a lower risk of cancer, and the opposite is true: that a less heart-healthy lifestyle is also associated with higher risk of cancer,” Emily Lau, a researcher on the study who works in the division of cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, said in a press release accompanying the study.
As part of their research, they analyzed data from over 20,000 people who were part of two large health studies, focusing on those who developed cancer or cardiovascular disease during the study. They determined that with the most natriuretic peptides had a 40% greater chance of developing cancer.
Overall, they found that study participants who adapted a heart-healthy lifestyle—managed their blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, and who were not significantly overweight—were at a lower risk of developing cancer. And, those who were non smokers were significantly less likely to develop both cancer and heart disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers several strategies on how to live a heart-healthy lifestyle. Diet is one of the most crucial. “Make healthy food choices like more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Eat less salt, saturated fat, and added sugar,” they suggest. Keep reading for their other tips.
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“Know your risks and talk to your family and doctor about your health history,” says the CDC. “Your doctor can use it to develop a more complete picture of your health and your risk factors for disease. Together you can work on ways to reduce that risk.”
“Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week, plus muscle-strengthening activities at least 2 days a week,” says the CDC.
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“Substitute water for sugary drinks to reduce calories. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation,” says the CDC. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.