Most of us know that smoking cigarettes and excess exposure to the sun can increase the risk of getting cancer. In fact, much of cancer can be avoided by changing behavior. For examples of some causes of cancer, check out Inside Cancer. Some of the causes of cancer are less obvious. An example is maintaining a healthy weight. Did you know that overweight people are 50% more likely to die of cancer than those with normal body weight? In the United States, this means each year about 90,000 people die of cancer that could be prevented if we could all keep those extra pounds off.

The foods we eat also have a big effect. I think back on what my mother used to preach, and I think she had it right. She told me to eat my greens and have lots of fruit. On the other hand, somehow she knew too much alcohol, red meat, and sugary drinks are bad. “Where did all the ice cream go?” echoes from the past. My hiking and canoeing mother encouraged me to do sports and other outdoor activities. I knew these choices were healthy and protected me from heart disease. What I didn’t realize was that my mother was protecting me from cancer, too.

The World Cancer Research Fund has recommendations for how to prevent cancer. I think they interviewed my mom.

Here are some of them:
• Be as lean as possible in the normal range of body weight
• Be physically active every day
• Avoid “energy-dense” foods and sugary drinks.
• Eat lots of non-starchy veggies and fruit
• Limit red meat and processed meat in your diet
• Avoid salt

You can check out the details and see the whole list on their web site:

Now that I have passed on my mother’s preaching, you have yet another reason to eat well and exercise. I’m off to the gym… to fight cancer and heart disease at the same time!