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What to Do, Eat and Think to Help Prevent Cancer

Not smoking. Staying active. Keeping a healthy weight. Eating a well-balanced diet. All these things can prevent certain cancers and make a cancer survivor feel better.

Be physically active

Most doctors encourage their patients to exercise throughout their course of cancer treatment, including while in chemotherapy or radiation therapy, unless they are at risk for complications. The American Cancer Society recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week.

  • Aerobic exercise will help you to maintain and build your endurance. Brisk walking, riding a bike and swimming are good low impact options.
  • Strength training is also important. It helps to protect your bone health and muscle mass.
  • Flexibility exercises involve gently stretching your muscles to maintain your range of motion. It improves your circulation and increases blood flow to your muscles.
  • Limit sedentary behavior such as sitting, lying down or watching TV.

The American Cancer Society also recommends using a pedometer. Even if you are not currently exercising at all, try wearing a pedometer and track how many steps you take each day. This will help you to stay as active as possible even without a formal exercise program. The goal for active, healthy adults is 10,000 steps a day.

Eat a healthy diet

elder couple in the kitchen

Research continues to be done on how diet may affect the development of cancer. It has been shown that eating fruits, vegetables, and cereal grains may lower your risk on certain types of cancers.

The American Cancer Society recommends:

  • Limit processed meat and red meat, such as beef, hot dogs and bacon.
  • Eat at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day.
  • Choose whole grains instead of refined grain products.

Moreover, if you drink alcohol, limit your intake. Women should drink no more than 1 drink a day and men no more than 2 drinks.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is deliberately paying attention in the present moment, being fully aware of what is happening both inside yourself—in your body, heart, and mind—and outside yourself, in your environment. By developing greater awareness in the present moment through mindfulness, you can experience lower anxiety, depression, anger and worry. It can also enhance emotional well-being and quality of life.

Meditation is a great way to practice mindfulness. Here are few tips to keep in mind when you meditate:

  • Find a quiet place with few distractions. Sit in a chair or on the floor.
  • Become aware of your breathing and focus on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall and the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth.
  • Watch every thought come and go. When thoughts come up, don’t hold them back. Simply note them and return to your breathing.
  • As the time comes to an end, sit for 1 or 2 minutes, becoming aware of where you are. Get up slowly.

Liz CabreraLiz Cabrera, RD, CSO, LDN, CNSC, is the Lead Clinical Dietician for Touro Infirmary with over 25 years experience. Liz has advanced education and extensive experience in nutrition for a broad range of health conditions for which she provides nutrition support. Liz provides comprehensive nutrition care for inpatient and outpatient departments at Touro. In addition, Liz leads monthly healthy lifestyles community seminars and a nutrition after cancer cooking class.