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Health & Wellness: Diet and Physical Activity: What’s the cancer connection?

Except for quitting smoking, some of the most important things you can do to help reduce your cancer risk are: Get to a healthy weight and stay there. Be physically active on a regular basis. Make healthy food choices.

Each year, about 560 Iowans die of cancer; around one-third of these deaths are linked to weighing too much, physical inactivity and poor diet.

Being active reduces your cancer risk by helping with weight control. Activity helps improve your hormone levels and the way your immune system works. Try for at least 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous activity weekly. Moderate activities like a brisk walk make you breathe as hard. This includes things like walking, biking, even housework and gardening. Vigorous activities make you use large muscle groups, make your heart beat faster, make you breathe faster and deeper, and make you sweat. Being more physically active than usual, no matter what your level of activity, will produce many health benefits.

Eating well is an important part of improving your health and reducing your cancer risk. Choose foods and drinks in amounts that help you get to a healthy weight. Read food labels to become more aware of portion sizes and calories. Be aware that “low-fat” does not necessarily mean “low-calorie.” Eat smaller portions when eating high-calorie foods. Limit your intake of sugar-sweetened beverages such as pop, sports drinks, and energy drinks.

It has been estimated that as much as one-third of all cancer deaths in the US are related to diet and activity factors. Let’s challenge ourselves to increase our physical activity and make healthy food choices.

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