And the more closely you follow these guidelines, say the researchers, the greater the benefits you're likely to see:
- Maintaining a healthy body weight (BMI between 18.5 and 24.9) throughout life
- Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, above and beyond normal activities, everyday
- Eating a healthy diet with at least 5 servings of vegetables and fruits daily; whole grains instead of processed ones; and limited red and processed meats
- Limiting alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink a day for women or 2 for men (if you drink at all)
ACS researchers studied more than 100,000 non-smoking men and women over 14 years and how closely they followed cancer prevention guidelines. (Because smoking poses a significant cancer risk, only non-smokers were studied to rule out smoking-related factors.) Here's what they found:
- Fewer than 5% of people adhered to all 4 recommendations, but those who did had a 42% lower risk of death when compared to those who followed the guidelines least closely.
- Keeping a healthy body weight seemed to be the most important factor in preventing death risk from cancer and other diseases. Being overweight or obese is linked to several types of cancer, as well as heart disease and diabetes.