Good lifestyle choices reduce risk of cancer


Key factors: appropriate body weight, healthy eating habits and less alcohol consumption

Did you know that obesity and high alcohol consumption are key risk factors for cancer? In fact, obesity will soon overtake smoking as the leading preventable cause of cancer in the U.S.

“Obesity is associated with increased risk for breast, colon, prostate, uterine cancers,” said Leonard Henry, MD, MBA, FACS, Medical Director and Surgical Oncologist at Goshen Center for Cancer Care. “Those are four of the top five cancers we diagnose. The other is lung cancer.”

A healthy lifestyle has significant potential to protect against certain cancers, according to Ingrid Bowser, MS, APN-BC, ADM-BC, AOCNP, Medical Oncology Nurse Practitioner. Not surprisingly, the most critical and well-known lifestyle factor is to not smoke or quit. Other critical healthy habits include:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Staying physically active
  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Limiting how much alcohol you drink

Check your overall health at a wellness screening

To find out if your weight is putting you at risk for disease, sign up for a wellness screening that includes body mass index. This assessment can indicate whether your weight is a concern that needs your attention.

Goshen Health offers a variety of health screenings and risk assessments throughout the year.

“We have a strong commitment to raising awareness about the connection between excess weight and cancers,” said Ingrid. “Losing even a small amount of weight has significant health benefits.”

Postmenopausal women with increased body weight have an elevated risk for developing breast cancer. Overweight or obese women have a two to three and a half times greater risk of developing endometrial cancer. For men and women, excess weight increases risk of developing colorectal cancer by 30 percent.

Physical activity can help reduce cancer risk

Staying active adds another element of protection against disease. A minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day, five days a week is recommended.

“No matter where you’re starting, you can benefit from doing some physical activity,” said Jason Evers, co-owner of Eastlake Athletic Club. “Whether you prefer working out on your own or joining group classes for motivation and accountability, there is something for everyone.”

Eastlake and Goshen Health collaborate to offer education and patient membership discounts to encourage the community to improve their overall approach to health and wellness.

Eating healthy foods protects against cancer

“Following a healthy diet doesn’t have to be complicated,” said Becky Overholt, RDN, CSO, CD, Registered Oncology Dietitian with Goshen Center for Cancer Care.

“Fill your plate with two-thirds or more of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans or other plant-based foods. Keep beef, pork, chicken or other animal proteins to a third or less of your plate.”

Goshen Health offers consults with nutritionists and classes to help people better understand how to meet their bodies’ dietary requirements.

Limiting alcohol consumption adds protection against disease

Keep to one drink a day for women or two drinks for men as a limit, Becky recommends. Drinking more increases risk for breast, liver and oral cancers.

No diet or lifestyle pattern can guarantee full protection against disease. However, establishing good daily habits can go a long way to reducing your risk of developing cancer.

Search for screenings or classes online on our Community Education and Wellness Programs page.