Following a heart-healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk for heart disease can also help prevent cancer, according to the results of a study published in Circulation.
The American Heart Association designed their educational program My Life Check® in order to improve health by educating the public on how best to live. The campaign includes Life’s Simple 7™, which are seven factors for a healthy heart:
- Being physically active
- Keeping a healthy weight
- Eating a healthy diet
- Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels
- Keeping blood pressure down
- Regulating blood sugar levels
- Not smoking
Researchers examined whether adherence to the seven steps was associated with reduced cancer risk. The study included 13,253 white and African-American men and women in the ongoing Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, which was launched in 1987 in four U.S. communities. Participants were interviewed and examined at the start of the study to determine which health factors they met or followed.
After 17-19 years of follow-up, the researchers reviewed cancer registries and hospital records and found that 2,880 of the participants were diagnosed with cancer, primarily of the lung, colon or rectum, prostate and breast. They found that participants who adhered to six or seven steps had a 51 percent lower risk of cancer than those who did not adhere to any of them. Those who adhered to four steps had a 33 percent reduced risk and those who adhered to one or two had a 21 percent reduced risk.
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When smoking status was not considered, participants who adhered to five or six of the remaining six factors had a 25 percent lower cancer risk than those who adhered to none. The researchers noted that quitting smoking is important, but there are also other factors that are important for living a healthy life.
The researchers concluded that adherence to Life’s Simple 7™ steps is associated with a lower risk of developing cancer. People who follow these steps can protect their health and lower their risk for chronic diseases.
Rasmussen-Torvik LJ, Shay CM, Abramson JG, et al. Ideal Cardiovascular Health Is Inversely Associated With Incident Cancer: The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Circulation. Published early online March 18, 2013: doi: 10.1161/?CIRCULATIONAHA.112.001183
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