Curb Cancer Risk: Nine guidelines to help older women avoid disease

Post-menopausal women who follow recommended dietary and lifestyle guidelines may reduce their risk of developing and dying from cancer, say researchers. Conversely, those women who followed one or none of nine recommended guidelines for diet and lifestyle had a 35% higher risk of developing cancer and a 42% greater risk of dying from cancer than women who adhered to at least six of the recommendations.

The study examined data from 29,564 women, aged 55 to 69, who were followed over a 13-year period to determine the impact of dietary lifestyle factors on the incidence and death rate from cancer.

“Our study suggests that older women may be able to have a fairly large impact on their cancer risk by not smoking, controlling body weight, exercising and eating a healthy, balanced diet,” said James R. Cerhan, MD of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.

Dr. Cerhan’s team considered nine recommendations developed by the American Institute for Cancer Research, which include: (1) having maximum body mass index less than 25 kg/m2; (2) having gained no more than 11 pounds since age 18; (3) engaging in daily moderate and weekly vigorous physical activity; (4) eating of 5 or more servings of vegetables and fruit daily; (5) consuming more than 400 grams (about 14 ounces) of complex carbohydrate per day; (6) limiting alcohol intake to less than 14 grams per day (one drink); (7) limiting red meat consumption to less than 80 grams per day (about 3 ounces); (8) limiting daily consumption of fat to no more than 30% of total caloric intake; and (9) limiting use of sodium to less than 2,400 mg per day. Furthermore, the researchers considered whether the women in the study ever smoked cigarettes.

American Association for Cancer Research, July 7, 2004