Haven’t made a New Year’s resolution yet?  Don’t worry, there is still time. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) recommends three steps that will lead you to a healthier lifestyle to reduce your cancer risk, as well as prevent diseases like heart disease and diabetes.  And these steps will help you get in shape too!  Tackle all three at once or take one step at a time.  As the saying goes, “taking the first step is always the hardest”.

1. Choose mostly plant foods, limit red meat and avoid processed meat. 

Focus on preparing meals that center around fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans.  Aim to fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables.

An AICR report found a scientific link between red and processed meats, and colon cancer. Limiting red meat to 18 ounces of lean cuts per week and avoiding processed meats like ham, hot dogs, sausage and bacon is recommended.

2. Be physically active every day in any way for 30 minutes or more.  No gym membership required – just get moving and get that heart pumping.  Walk, dance, swim, clean the house – whatever floats your boat.  Don’t have 30 minutes all at once – that’s fine – break it into two 15 minute sessions.  Being physical active will lower your risk for colon cancer and possibly several other cancers.

3. Aim to be a healthy weight throughout life.  Following steps 1 and 2 will get you started on your goal of a healthy weight.  A healthy weight helps prevent against chronic disease.  Carrying excess weight has been linked to six different types of cancer. After not smoking, being a healthy weight is the most important thing you can do to PREVENT cancer.

Looking for more information?  Check out the AICR initiative Cancer Prevention: Together We Can.  This campaign provides evidence-based, user-friendly tools that educate and empower you to take steps to reduce your cancer risk. Nearly half of all cancers can be prevented; let’s get going!

The NH CCC works with partners on strategies to prevent cancer. Learn more in the New Hampshire Comprehensive Cancer Control Plan