The seven-point plan to a healthy life: Simple lifestyle steps can help prevent cancer and heart disease, new study finds

By
Anthony Bond

PUBLISHED:

04:00 GMT, 19 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

04:00 GMT, 19 March 2013

Seven simple health lifestyle steps can help prevent cancer as well as heart disease, according to a new study.

Adhering to at least six of the 'Life's Simple 7' list of lifestyle
choices from the American Heart Association reduced the overall risk of
cancer by 51 per cent.

The choices include being physically active, keeping a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, keeping blood pressure down, regulating blood sugar levels and not smoking.

Findings: Seven simple health lifestyle steps can help prevent cancer as well as heart disease, according to a new study.

Findings: Seven simple health lifestyle steps can help prevent cancer as well as heart disease, according to a new study. This includes being physically active. This is a file picture of people running

When smoking status was not considered,
people who met five or six of the remaining six factors had a 25 per
cent lower cancer risk than those who met none.

The list was originally compiled by the American Heart Association to ward off heart disease. However, new research shows they can also help prevent cancer.

Lead author Laura Rasmussen-Torvik, an assistant professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said: 'We were gratified to know adherence to the Life's Simple 7 goals was also associated with reduced incidence of cancer.

'This can help health professionals provide a clear, consistent message about the most important things people can do to protect their health and lower their overall risk for chronic diseases.'

Adhering to six or seven of the factors reduced the risk of cancer by 51 per cent, compared with people who met none of the factors. Meeting four factors led to a 33 per cent risk reduction and one or two 21 per cent.

Harmful: Quitting smoking is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle

Harmful: Quitting smoking is very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle

Life's Simple 7 is part of the association's My Life Check campaign that advises Americans to adhere to seven factors for a healthy heart.

Dr Rasmussen-Torvik said: 'We're trying to help promote a comprehensive health message.

'Quitting smoking is very important, but there are other factors you need to be aware of if you want to live a healthy life.'

Participants included 13,253 white and African-American men and women in the ongoing Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, launched in 1987 in four US communities.

They were interviewed and examined at the start of the study to determine which health factors they met or followed.

About 20 years later, the researchers reviewed cancer registries and hospital records and determined that 2,880 of the participants ended up with cancer, primarily of the lung, colon or rectum, prostate and breast.

Non-melanoma skin cancers were not considered, and researchers didn't look at cancer risk factor changes over time.

Dr Rasmussen-Torvik added: 'This adds to the strong body of literature suggesting that it's never too late to change, and that if you make changes like quitting smoking and improving your diet, you can reduce your risk for both cardiovascular disease and cancer.'

The findings were published in the journal Circulation.