Reduce your cancer risk – check out these top tips

I hate cancer
I hate cancer

There are no proven ways to prevent cancer, but you can reduce your risk of getting it.

According to Cancer Research UK, 4 in 10 cancer cases can be prevented, largely through lifestyle changes. It will help to lower your risk of cancer if you:

Eat a healthy, balanced diet

Stories about various foods and diets linked to preventing cancer are often in the news. This is because a lot of research is going on into diet and cancer. However, it isn’t easy to study the link between diet and cancer, because there are so many different factors involved, and cancer can take years to develop.

No single food or supplement can prevent cancer from developing. Overall, research shows a link between eating certain groups of foods (rather than any specific foods, vitamins or nutrients) and a reduction in cancer risk.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet may lower your risk of developing cancer. Try to consume a diet containing:

at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day

plenty of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta and other starchy foods: choose wholegrain foods where possible, as these contain more fibre

some meat, fish, eggs, beans and other non-dairy sources of protein

some milk and dairy foods

just a small amount of foods and drinks high in fat or sugars, such as cakes, crisps and biscuits

Eating a healthy, balanced diet will help your body get all the nutrients it needs.

Fibre and cancer

Evidence consistently suggests that eating plenty of fibre can reduce the risk of bowel cancer. Diets high in fibre can help keep your bowel healthy and prevent constipation.

Fibre-rich foods include wholegrain pasta, bread, breakfast cereals and rice. Pulses, fruit and vegetables are also good sources of fibre.

Red and processed meat

Meat is a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals, such as iron and zinc. However, evidence shows there is probably a link between eating red and processed meat, and the risk of bowel cancer. People who eat a lot of these meats have a higher risk of getting bowel cancer than people who eat small amounts.

Beef, pork and lamb are all red meat. Processed meats include bacon, sausages, salami and ham.

If you eat more than 90 grams of red or processed meat a day (the equivalent of about three thin-cut slices of roast beef, lamb or pork, where each slice is about the size of half a piece of sliced bread), it is recommended that you cut down to 70 grams.

Read more about eating red and processed meat.

Beta-carotene supplements

Beta-carotene, often found in antioxidant supplements, has been found to increase the risk of lung cancer developing in smokers and people who have been heavily exposed to asbestos at work. It is possible that taking large amounts of beta-carotene supplements would also increase the risk of cancer in other people.

Maintain a healthy weight

In England, over 60% of the population is overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of some cancers, such as:

bowel cancer

pancreatic cancer

oesophageal cancer

breast cancer if you are a woman who has been through the menopause

cancer of the womb (uterus)

kidney cancer

Being a healthy weight can reduce your risk of developing cancer. You can find out whether you are a healthy weight by using the BMI healthy weight calculator.

You can also find information and tips on how to start losing weight.

Stay physically active

There’s evidence that being physically active can reduce your risk of bowel and breast cancer, and also endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus). It’s not known exactly how physical activity reduces the risk of these cancers, but research shows that regular exercise helps to keep your hormone levels healthy. Having high levels of some hormones can increase your cancer risk.

Physical activity also helps you to maintain a healthy weight, which in turn reduces the risk of cancer.

See physical activity guidelines for adults.

Drink less alcohol

Drinking alcohol is known to increase your risk of some cancers, including:

mouth cancer

pharynx and larynx cancer

oesophageal cancer

colorectal cancer in men (cancer of the colon or rectum)

breast cancer

It is probably a cause of other cancers as well, such as colorectal cancer in women and liver cancer.

To reduce the risk of harming your health if you drink most weeks:

men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week

spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week.

Use the drinks checker to find out how many units are in different alcoholic drinks.

Stop smoking

Lung cancer is responsible for around a quarter of cancer deaths in the UK, and 90% of lung cancer cases are related to smoking.

“Stopping smoking greatly cuts the risk of developing cancer,” says Hazel Nunn, Cancer Research UK’s health information officer. “The earlier you stop, the greater the impact. But it’s never too late to quit. People who quit smoking at 30 live nearly as long as non-smokers, and those who quit at 50 can still undo half the damage.”

There is support to help you stop smoking.

Protect your skin from sun damage

Taking care in the sun so that you don’t get burned is important for preventing skin cancer. Follow Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart plan to protect yourself:

Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm.

Make sure you never burn.

Cover yourself up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses.

Take care not to let children get burned.

Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15.

Keep an eye on any moles or freckles you have. If they change at all (for example, get bigger or begin bleeding), see your GP, as this can be an early sign of cancer. The earlier skin cancer is caught, the easier it is to treat, so see your GP as soon as possible.

We need sunlight on our skin so that our bodies can produce vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones. Read about sunlight and vitamin D to find out how much sunlight you need.

Know your body

It’s important to know your body and recognise any potential symptoms of cancer, such as lumps or unexplained bleeding, and to get advice about whether they might be serious.

Self-help tips to fight fatigue

Self-help tips to fight fatiguee
Self-help tips to fight fatigue
Many cases of unexplained tiredness are due to stress, not enough sleep, poor diet and other lifestyle factors. Use these self-help tips to restore your energy levels.

Eat often to beat tiredness

A good way to keep up your energy through the day is to eat regular meals and healthy snacks every three to four hours, rather than a large meal less often.

Read more about healthy eating.

Perk up with exercise

You might feel too tired to exercise, but regular exercise will make you feel less tired in the long run, and you’ll have more energy. Even a single 15-minute walk can give you an energy boost, and the benefits increase with more frequent physical activity.

Start with a small amount of exercise. Build up your physical activity gradually over weeks and months until you reach the recommended goal of two-and-a-half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.

Read more about starting exercise.

Find out the physical activity guidelines for adults.

Lose weight to gain energy

If your body is carrying excess weight, it can be exhausting. It also puts extra strain on your heart, which can make you tired. Lose weight and you’ll feel much more energetic. Apart from eating healthily, the best way to lose weight is to be more active and do more exercise.

Read more about how to lose weight.

Sleep well

It sounds obvious, but two-thirds of us suffer from sleep problems, and many people don’t get the sleep they need to stay alert through the day. The Royal College of Psychiatrists advises going to bed and getting up in the morning at the same time every day; avoid naps through the day, and have a hot bath before bed (as hot as you can bear without scalding you) for at least 20 minutes.

Read more about how to get a good night’s sleep.

Try these NHS-approved sleep apps to help you sleep well.

Reduce stress to boost energy

Stress uses up a lot of energy. Try to introduce relaxing activities into your day. This could be working out at the gym, or a gentler option, such as listening to music, reading or spending time with friends. Whatever relaxes you will improve your energy.

Read more about how to relieve stress.

Talking therapy beats fatigue

There’s some evidence that talking therapies such as counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) might help to fight fatigue. See your GP for a referral for talking treatment on the NHS or for advice on seeing a private therapist.

Read more about counselling.

Cut out caffeine

The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends that anyone feeling tired should cut out caffeine. It says the best way to do this is to gradually stop having all caffeine drinks (this includes coffee, tea and cola drinks) over a three-week period. Try to stay off caffeine completely for a month to see if you feel less tired without it.

You may find that not consuming caffeine gives you headaches. If this happens, cut down more slowly on the amount of caffeine that you drink.

Drink less alcohol

Although a few glasses of wine in the evening helps you fall asleep, you sleep less deeply after drinking alcohol. The next day you’ll be tired, even if you sleep a full eight hours.

Cut down on alcohol before bedtime. You’ll get a better night’s rest and have more energy. The NHS recommends that men and women should not regularly drink more than 14 units a week, which is equivalent to six pints of average strength beer or 10 small glasses of low strength wine.

Read more about how to cut down on alcohol.

Drink more water for better energy

Sometimes you feel tired simply because you’re mildly dehydrated. A glass of water will do the trick, especially after exercise.

Read about healthy drinks.

Alcohol Awareness Week – Does not drinking in January actually work the rest of the year?


Alcohol Awareness Week
Alcohol Awareness Week
Like many of us I enjoy a glass of wine in the evening but I do like to go dry in January. The last two weeks of December are an opportunity for me to eat and drink far too much (even by my standards) so a dry January is a great way to kick start the year.

But what are the affects and does it have any affect the rest of the year!

Well according to research by the UK’s University of Sussex it does have a long term impact. Short term they found that of people who had given up a tipple for January:-

• 82% of participants felt a sense of achievement
• 79% of participants saved money
• 62% of participants had better sleep
• 62% of participants had more energy
• 49% of participants lost weight

Indeed Emily Robinson, Director of Campaigns at Alcohol Concern told us, “The long term effects of Dry January have previously been questioned, with people asking if a month booze-free would cause people to binge drink once the 1st February comes around. This research is the proof of how, with the help, advice and support we offer throughout the month, our model can really change behaviour and reduce drinking.”

Alcohol Awareness Week is run in the UK by Alcohol Concern who also promote, what they call, Dry January!


The research suggest that nearly 20% of the UK population drinks more than the recommended amount!

The main findings are :-

• 72% of participants had sustained reduced levels of harmful drinking six months after completing Dry January
• The 23% of people who had “harmful” alcohol consumption when they started Dry January are now in the “low risk” category
• 4% of participants were still dry in June

Dr Richard De Visser, Senior Lecturer at the University of Sussex who led the research, said: “What’s really interesting to see is that these changes in alcohol consumption were also seen in the participants who didn’t complete the whole month alcohol free. Even if participants took part but didn’t successfully complete the 31 days, it generally led to a significant decrease across all the measures of alcohol intake.”

10 Tips for a Healthy Heart. Check them out and you can help prevent coronary heart disease (CHD) this World Heart Day.


Tips for reducing the risk of heart disease!
Tips for reducing the risk of heart disease!
As I sat down to work today I had a look over the BBC’s health news to see what the issues of teh day might be. The main headline was “Heart disease warnings ‘missed‘” . I’d also forgotten that today is World Heart Day.

Delving further into the article I discovered that the British Heart Foundation had recently organised some survey research and they discovered, to their horror, that 90% of people think that there must be symptoms associated with that “silent killer” high blood pressure.

So I thought it would be a good opportunity to share with you British Heart Foundation’s tips for a healthy heart and to prevent coronary heart disease.

a) Give up smoking. You can find some ideas to help you pack in smoking here.
b) Get your general health road tested by your doctor.
c) Maintain a healthy weight. Read our weight loss tips and blog posts here.
d) Keep active. Pretty hard for many of us but much more for people with chronic pain. You might find this guide to exercise for people with pain useful.
e) Lower your salt consumption. Both in and out of the home.
f) Eat your 5-a-day. Do you?
g) Cut the saturated fat. Find out more about diet and health here.
h) Always read the food labels. You would be amazed at the salt and sugar in processed foods.
i) Cut down on the amount of alcohol you drink. How much do you drink?
j) Watch your portion sizes. Make sure you eat less.

Do you have any tips for our readers? If you do please do feel free to share below in the comments boxes.

Thanks in advance.

Can a broken heart make you ill? Find out about the actual medical condition that results from having a broken heart, as well as ways to get over heartache and how to keep your heart healthy throughout the year at our new WebTV show!


St Valentine's Day and Health
St Valentine’s Day and Health

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year, but try telling that to anyone who has ever suffered heartache or been jilted around February the 14th.

Watching happy couples celebrate their love for each other when you’re nursing a broken heart can be unbearable for many; but not only that, medical studies now show that a broken heart is an actual medical condition.

In this show the guests will discuss whether it is possible for a broken heart to make you ill, as well as the findings of new research by benenden health, which reveals how many times the average man and woman get their heart broken in a lifetime.

Besides speaking to friends and family, the study shows many of us turn to alcohol or food to get us through the heartbreak. While these things may make us feel better in the short-term, in the long term they’re not the healthiest way of dealing with trauma.

So how can you mend a broken heart in a healthy and constructive way?

Tune in to our live and interactive web TV show where relationship expert and psychologist Dr Corinne Sweet, and consultant cardiologist at benenden hospital Dr Robert Gerber discuss how to make sure a broken heart doesn’t harm your mental and physical health, and look at ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day regardless of your relationship status.

WEBTV SHOW LOGISTICS  


Dr Robert Gerber and Dr Corinne Sweet join us live online at http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/benenden-health-what-becomes-of-the-broken-hearted  on Friday 14th February at 3pm

Click here to submit questions before the show
http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/benenden-health-what-becomes-of-the-broken-hearted