We have reached a critical moment in terms of cancer research, treatment, and prevention. Cancer is a leading cause of death in the world. In the United States one in two men and one in three women will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Yet it is now clear from scientific research that how we live in our bodies, in our communities and the broader world— how we eat, sleep, work and play, manage stress and face life’s challenges, create our support networks and make choices about our environments— has a profound effect on our health and wellness; and on cancer in particular.
Anticancer Living consists of six lifestyle pillars of health that are linked with cancer risk and influence outcomes for those with cancer:
(note: tobacco use accounts for at least 30% of cancer, but hopefully the world knows this already)
Each of these factors influences critical biological systems like gene expression and other key regulators of the cancer process. Although scientific evidence supports the role of each of the six areas for health and wellbeing, past research has rarely studied them together. However, emerging evidence reveals the best approach is to have the ideal mix of six, as each area influences the other (e.g., sleep deprivation is linked with unhealthy dietary choices and obesity; stress can cause sleep loss, modifies food metabolism, and sabotages all healthy choices, etc.).
We recommend starting with Love and Support and then ensuring that stress does not sabotage your efforts to improve your sleep, diet, and physical activity habits. Remember, in order to foster our own wellness we must be mindful about every choice we make as we engage in daily life.
Love and support: Seek to foster, surround yourself with, and deliver love and support. Giving and receiving support provides broad benefits, and can specifically affect how our cells function and express the genes that control our health.
Stress Management: Engage in a stress management activity like meditation or yoga on a daily basis – in the morning, before bed, or when you need a “breather” in the middle of a busy day. This aspect of the prescription is critical, as chronic stress has not only been found to sabotage all good healthy intentions, but can negatively affect most biological processes, decreases the beneficial effects of healthy foods, and literally speeds the aging process.
Sleep: Try to get between 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night to improve your health, coping, mood, weight control, cognitive function, and more.
Physical Activity: Exercise regularly – at least 30 minutes a day, 5-6 days a week, and children need at least 1 hour a day. It is critical to also limit sedentary behavior, as the harms of sedentary behavior and lack of exercise are equivalent to the health risks of smoking or obesity.
Diet: Eat a primarily whole-foods, variety-filled, plant-based diet. Limit foods you know are not nutritious powerhouses (sweets and salty snacks) and maintain a balanced glycemic load. Research confirms this approach will improve health and decrease risk of most non-communicable diseases while improving outcomes for those with cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Environmental toxins: Limit your exposure to environmental toxins, especially endocrine (hormone) disruptors such as bisphenol A (BPA) and parabens. Hormone disruptors have been implicated in obesity, risk of cancer, and other illnesses. Other chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis have also been classified as carcinogens (Styrofoam, formaldehyde, and tricolsan to name a few).
Now that you know all six pillars of Anticancer Living, consider your best mix of six and encourage others to join you. Although you may stray off the path from time to time, it is still right there beside you. Know it is not a straight line, but a winding road paved for your unique journey. Engage today and start Anticancer Living.
Follow Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DrLCohen; Facebook: Lorenzo Cohen
Cohen and Jefferies are also the authors of the book entitled:
ANTICANCER LIVING: Transform Your Life and Health with the Mix of Six
Anticancer Living by Lorenzo Cohen, PhD, Alison Jefferies, MEd is on sale May 1 by Viking.
From Anticancer Living: Transform Your Life and Health with the Mix of Six by Lorenzo Cohen PhD and Alison Jefferies, Med, published on May 1, 2018 by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2018 by Lorenzo Cohen and Alison Jefferies.