Cancer Council Australia has found the key to avoiding cancer could be maintaining a healthy weight and meeting physical activity guidelines. New research released on Monday found more than 200,000 cancer causes could be avoided in Australia over the next 25 years if people were of healthy weight and participated in physical activity.
The research, conducted by the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, was released on World Cancer Day, prompting the government to take stronger measures to help Australians live a healthier lifestyle. The research aimed to quantify the proportion of cancer cases that would be potentially avoidable if the prevalence of obesity and inactivity could be reduced in Australia.
Researchers discovered as many as 190,500 obesity-related cancer could be prevented over a 25-year period, while 19,200 inactivity-related cancers could potentially be avoided if Australian adults undertook a minimum of five hours of moderate intensity physical activity each week.
“With more than two thirds of adults considered overweight or obese, and nearly half insufficiently active, these results show we have the potential to prevent a significant number of cancers in Australia and potentially save thousands of lives,” Sanchia Aranda, CEO Cancer Council Australia, said in a statement.
These cancers include postmenopausal breast, endometrium, bowel and kidney cancers. Aranda said it wasn’t just the Australian public to blame for the country’s weight problem.
“While it is important for people to look after themselves by doing regular physical activity and eating a balanced diet, Australia’s obesity problem cannot be placed entirely on the individual’s shoulders,” she said. “In the lead up to the next federal election, both sides of politics need to recognise their responsibility to help protect children from mass marketing of junk food; improve the Health Star Rating food labelling system to provide simpler, more informed choices to consumers; and promote more public education about the benefits of good nutrition and exercise.”
Making small changes such as eating more fruit, vegetables and whole grains can do wonders for improving diet.
“An easy measure is the two and five goal – two fruits and five serves of vegetables every day,” Aranda said. “When it comes to physical activity, if you can’t commit to five hours of physical activity per week it’s important to remember that every little bit counts so making an effort to be more active each day can still lead to better health.”
The latest research was published in the International Journal of Cancer. Meanwhile, Cancer Council Australia has made a number of recommendations for nutrition and physical activity in support of the Dietary Guidelines for Australian Adults and the National Physical Activity Guidelines for Australians.
Firstly, people should aim for five hours of moderate physical activities each week. This can include a brisk walk, swimming or dancing.
As mentioned above, five or more servings of vegetables and two or more servings of fruit each day is recommended, while cereals consumed should be wholegrain.
When it comes to meat, it’s something that should be eaten in moderation. People should be eating no more than four servings of lean red meat each week, while processed meats should be avoided. Switching from frying to grilling can also help, and choosing lower fat foods can make all the difference.
Similarly, low-salt products should be avoided and replaced with herbs and spices instead.