Not smoking will lower your risk of many cancers. Getting vaccinated will lower your risk of certain cancers. And eating a healthy diet along with exercising regularly will also lower your risk of certain cancers.
It’s not that confusing.
If you read a widely shared New York Times piece going around this week, you would think that you shouldn’t trust any evidence when it comes to diet and exercise and cancer risk. That’s not true.
It’s not a single study, or even several. It’s looking at the entire body of research, systematically and thoroughly – what we do here at AICR – and what that shows is:
-Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate activity a day reduces the risk of breast, endometrial and colorectal cancers. Emerging research suggests possibly more.
The NYT piece brings up a lot of solid points about the research challenges in this field of health and lifestyle. It’s often impossible to carry out what is considered the gold standard of research, the randomized controlled trial, where one group receiving the intervention is compared to a group that does not over many years. (Try doing that with exercise, for example, where even a group of non-exercisers — the comparison group — would walk about somewhat.)
Because cancer takes years to develop, you would have to wait decades to see what percent of people were diagnosed with cancer.
That’s why so many large studies ask people to recall how much they exercised or what they ate yesterday, last year or decades ago. That also comes with research concerns. And single studies often do contradict one another.
Analyzing the research as a whole, AICR research shows there are evidence-based steps people can do to reduce the risk of developing cancer. Here are AICR’s 10 recommendations.