If you’re like most Americans you struggle to make cancer-protective lifestyle choices - like eating smart and moving more. Perhaps making changes seems too difficult or you just can’t seem to find time. That’s what Americans said when we surveyed them to find out what healthy behaviors they’re doing and if not, why they aren’t making these choices.
Research shows that eating smart, moving more and being a healthy weight are key to reducing cancer risk. AICR estimates that about one-third of many of the most common cancers in the US could be prevented if everyone followed these guidelines.
Making changes can be challenging, but here we break down the barriers and suggest doable steps to help you get started.
For lower cancer risk, AICR recommends choosing mostly plant foods, like vegetables, whole grains and beans. These foods should take up two-thirds or more of your plate or bowl.
The barrier: Many Americans said eating a healthier diet will cost too much.
Try this: Start with available and affordable foods to give your plate a health boost. No need to rely on the latest trendy “superfoods”.
For cancer prevention, AICR research shows you should aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day and avoid sedentary habits like too much sitting, TV watching or screen time.
The barrier: Americans said they just can’t find the time to be more physically active.
Try this: Start now to build up a few minutes here and there so it adds up to 30 minutes.
Get to - and Stay - a Healthy Weight
Next to not smoking, being at a healthy weight is the single most important thing people can do to lower their risk, as carrying excess body fat is a cause for ten different kinds of cancer.
The barrier: People’s common concerns are that losing weight is too difficult and they don’t know where to start.
Try this: Keep it simple and begin with one specific change that you can realistically do and that you can measure how you did after a few days or a week. For example:
This is based on the SMART goal concept and is a research-based strategy to help you get started making healthy changes that put you on the path to feeling better, having more energy and lowering your cancer risk.
Getting support is another important way to make change and especially to keep it up. If you’re ready to try making changes, we’re here to help you take it step by step with our free 12-week weight loss program, AICR’s New American Plate Challenge. The Challenge starts February 29 and you can sign up now.
For Cancer Prevention Month, our Cancer Prevention: Together We Can campaign also offers quizzes, an Activity Tracker and other interactive tools to help you make changes for better health. Thanks to Yakima Fresh, the chief sponsor of the campaign.