People may be tightening their purse strings during these difficult economic times, but it doesn’t mean your health has to suffer. According to experts at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, there are many low-cost ways to maintain good health while reducing your risk to various types of cancer.
Get moving. It costs nothing to walk around your neighborhood, and various studies have shown moderate to intensive aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of recurrence of several cancers, including breast and colon.
Jeffrey Meyerhardt, M.D., M.P.H., a Dana-Farber gastrointestinal cancer specialist, offers some free or inexpensive way to work out:
• Use the stairs instead of the elevator
• Walk or ride a bike instead of drive
• Take an exercise break or quick walk at work
• Play a team sport
• Use a stationary bicycle or treadmill while watching TV
Before beginning an exercise, however, Meyerhardt suggests first consulting with your doctor.
Eat nutritiously. A diet that is low in processed sugars, red meat and calories, but is high in fruits and vegetables and loaded with antioxidants is one of the simplest ways you can maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of certain cancers. Studies have shown eating one or more apples a day can reduce the risk of breast, mouth and colorectal cancers. The skin of an apple contains the cancer-fighting antioxidant quercitin.
Eating apples uncooked and unpeeled provides the most benefit from quercitin, says Stacy L. Kennedy, M.P.H., R.D., L.D.N., a nutritionist at Dana-Farber. In fact, she says many of the beneficial nutrients in fruits and vegetables are often found in the skins.
Other foods that are said to be healthy and cancer-fighting include pumpkin, sweet potato, squash (butternut and acorn), carrots and other orange fruits and vegetables. These foods contain carotenoids, a cancer-fighting nutrient that has been shown to lower the risk of colon, prostate, lung and breast cancer.
Just say no. Quit smoking. Kicking this habit can result in both a healthy lifestyle and a significant financial savings.
For those who plan to quit, it is recommended to follow the four Ds:
• Deep breaths
• Drink lots of water
• Do something to avoid focusing on cigarette cravings
• Delay reaching for a cigarette; the urge will pass
Limit use of alcohol. Limiting alcohol consumption can save money and it may lower the risk of developing some cancers. Researchers at Dana-Farber found that postmenopausal women who consume one alcoholic drink a day may increase their risk for breast cancer.
—Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (www.dana-farber.org)