7 heart-healthy lifestyle steps that can cut cancer risk
The American Heart Association’s seven steps for a healthy heart– dubbed Life’s Simple 7 – can also help keep cancer at bay, a new study has claimed.
Laura Rasmussen-Torvik, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said that following even six of the steps can cut cancer risk in half, ABC News reported.
She said that she and her colleagues had a hunch that following healthy-heart guidelines would also decrease the risk of cancer and their findings confirmed it.
According to the study, following four of the steps in ‘Life’s Simple 7’ resulted in a 33 percent cancer risk reduction, and following six or seven of the steps led to a 51 percent cancer risk reduction.
The American Heart Association had developed the seven steps in 2010 with the goal of reducing heart attack and stroke deaths by about 20 percent by 2020.
Rasmussen-Torvik and her fellow researchers examined two decades of data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, going through the health records of 13,253 patients from 1987 to 2006 and discovered that the more steps the patients followed, the more they cut down on cancer risk.
Here are the steps in the Life Simple 7:
1. Get active — AHA recommends at least 150 minutes of exercise a week.
2. Control cholesterol — Cholesterol should be lower than 200 milligrams per deciliter.
3. Eat better — This means foods high in whole grain, fruits, vegetables and lean protein such as fish. Limiting sodium, added sugars, trans and saturated fats is also important.
4. Manage blood pressure — It should be less than 120/80.
5. Lose weight — body mass index should be below 25.
6. Reduce blood sugar — Fasting blood sugar level should be below 100, which can be achieved by avoiding soda, candy and other desserts, as well as getting exercise.
7. Stop smoking — AHA says do “whatever it takes.”
The researchers also found that the steps are cumulative, but quitting smoking was especially helpful.
There’s also a considerable amount of overlap in the steps, considering that getting active and eating better — steps 1 and 3 — also help with cholesterol, blood pressure, weight and blood sugar – steps 2, 4, 5, and 6.
The study has been published in the journal Circulation.