One of the biggest health worries for many women, particularly women who are approaching or passing menopause, is cancer. The leading type of cancer in women, outside of skin cancer, is breast cancer. Rounding out the top three are lung cancer and colon cancer. The top three causes of cancer death in women are lung (#1), breast (#2) and colon (#3).
While these are the most common cancers in women, they are not the only cancers that affect women. And a diagnosis of cancer is no small matter. The good news is that a diagnosis of cancer is not an automatic death sentence. We have numerous tools at our disposal to help combat cancer: chemotherapy, radiation, surgery, complementary and alternative medicine (and more). But the most effective strategy? Avoiding cancer in the first place.
While there is much that swirls around cancer that is completely beyond our control --- genetics, age, just plain bad luck --- it should reassure you that there are also many things that we can control. What we choose to put into our body and otherwise expose ourselves to, how we choose to move our bodies (or not); these are important factors. New research out this month gives us even more to hold on to: Adherence to specific guidelines issued by the American Cancer Society (ACS) is linked with a reduced risk of cancer in postmenopausal women.
Researchers took a look at data from 65,838 postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. They wanted to see if adherence to ACS guidelines for healthy eating, physical activity, and alcohol intake really made a difference in one's risk of cancer and death from cancer.
They found that they women who had the highest levels of guideline adherence enjoyed a 17 percent reduced risk of cancer overall, 22 percent reduced risk of breast cancer, and a 52 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer. A 20 percent reduction in cancer-specific death and a 27 percent risk reduction of death for any cause were enjoyed by postmenopausal women with the highest adherence as compared to those with the lowest.
What's magical about this is that there really isn't anything that magical about the guidelines. Specifically, the ACS recommends that women strive to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, have an active lifestyle, choose healthier foods, and limit alcohol consumption.
This stuff is within your control - and it makes a difference.
Dr. Cindy Haines is a 70.3 yogi dedicated to the quest for better health via self-empowerment. For even more tips on how to get better health and need the health care system less, check out: The New Prescription: How to Get the Best Health Care in a Broken System by Dr. Cynthia D. Haines, M.D. (Dr. Cindy Haines) and Eric Metcalf, M.P.H. This is a book about getting what you really want: better health on your own terms. More medical care doesn’t mean better health. Dr. Haines and Metcalf reveal some of the most egregious problems with a medical system gone awry, opening readers’ eyes to how to better navigate the changes underway. Using solid research, insiders’ insights, and patient anecdotes, they offer cost-effective and potentially life-saving ways to get more out of health care while using less of it.
Published On: January 17, 2014