The year 2019 is rolling in and you are putting cancer in your rear-view mirror. Restoring health after cancer treatment is an achievable goal that is within your reach. We know that a majority of cancers have a lifestyle component that contributes to their cause, so it only makes sense that a way to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence is to optimize your lifestyle to promote health.
#1 STOP ANY TOBACCO PRODUCTS
Tobacco use is linked to the development of many cancers and is a very addictive substance. Put a game plan in place to help you quit. Check out such resources as the Arizona Smoker’s Hotline, talk with your doctor about the different tobacco cessation medications that are available and look in to using acupuncture to help you quit. This is one of the MOST important things you can do for your health!
#2 REDUCE ALCOHOL INTAKE
Although moderate alcohol intake can have a positive impact on heart health, even small amounts of alcohol intake can contribute to an increased risk of cancer recurrence; the higher the intake, the greater the risk. I generally advise that if alcohol is a substance that is important to your quality of life that you limit your intake to three servings or less a week.
#3 ACHIEVE A HEALTHY BODY WEIGHT
Increased body fat is a risk factor for cancer recurrence. It has been shown that people are most successful at losing weight when they have a support system. Create that support system for yourself, whether you partner up with a family member or friend or join a weight loss program, find something that will keep you accountable.
#4 EAT YOUR FRUITS AND VEGGIES
Your mother was right; these foods are important for health and have shown to decrease the risk of many chronic diseases as well as decreasing the risk of cancer recurrence. The goal is to eat at least 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies a day. #integrativenutrition
#5 LIMIT RED MEAT
Processed meats like ham, bacon and hot dogs have been classified as carcinogens by the World Health Organization and are best to limit to a few servings a month or less. Red meat like beef, lamb and pork have also been associated with an increased risk of cancer. It is best to limit these to one serving a week or less.
Exercise is one of the most powerful tools you have within your control to positively impact your health. It has been shown that individuals who get at least three hours of exercise a week can significantly lower their risk of cancer recurrence and lower their risk for many other chronic diseases as well.
#7 BECOME MORE RESILIENT TO STRESS
For many individuals it is not realistic to eliminate some of the big stressors in their lives, but it is possible to develop tools that help you become more resilient to the effects of stress. Using breathing exercises after a stressful event to help calm down and dedicating 15 minutes a day to practices like yoga, meditation or, progressive muscle relaxation can help lower the impact of stress on your health. Some of my favorite Apps that you can download are Calm and Headspace. #createthelifeyouwant
#8 GET ADEQUATE SLEEP
Many times, in a hectic week we sacrifice sleep to get everything done. Unfortunately, this is harmful to your health. Sleep is the time where the body recovers each day and is an important way for the body to stay healthy. It should be a non-negotiable in your schedule to get 7-8 hours of sleep a day.
#9 FIND JOY IN EACH DAY
Cancer many times fills one’s life with worry and stress. Regain your life by focusing on what brings you joy. Some helpful strategies are practicing mindfulness and gratitude, focusing on activities that give your life meaning and purpose and working on self-care. #mentalhealth
#10 CHECK ON YOUR VITAMIN D LEVEL
Vitamin D not only is important for bone health but also plays a big role in immune health. Although there is some controversy around the optimal level – I generally recommend that my patients achieve a 25(OH) Vitamin D level of 40-60.
I would like to invite you to attend my special event at 6pm, Tuesday, January 8th Can Integrative Oncology Help Me? On behalf of myself and the entire Integrative Oncology team at Ironwood, I wish you a safe, healthy, and happy 2019!