February 14, 2007

Exercise To Reduce Your Cancer Risks

After having a conversation with Elise Cook, M. D., assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Cancer Prevention at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, one would never guess that her first career choice had nothing to do with medicine.

Before becoming a doctor, Cook spent ten years as a computer scientist. It wasn't until she started talking to her friends who are doctors that she realized a career in medicine was the path she wanted to take.

"Although my mother was a nurse, I didn't consider entering the medical field until much later in my career," she said.

Since joining the medical field, Cook has developed a passion for educating the community about cancer prevention. According to Cook, engaging in some sort of daily physical exercise can help cut your risks of developing diseases, including cancer, and keep your stress level down.

Exercise Reduces Risks

Researchers have found that about 30 minutes of exercise three to four times per week may help decrease your risk of several types of cancer, including breast, endometrial, prostate, colorectal and lung cancers.

According to the National Cancer Institute, physically active women have a 40 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer, and physically active men have a 10 to 30 percent reduced risk of developing prostate cancer.

"The easiest way to incorporate physical activity into your day is to find an activity that you enjoy doing so that you don't become bored or burned-out," Cook said. People who make exercise part of their everyday routine gain the most health advantages and are most likely to continue.

Cook is taking her own advice in this respect as she and her husband are currently taking Gulf Coast swing dance classes together.

Cancer Prevention Month

As part of National Cancer Prevention Month in February, Cook and other M. D. Anderson experts encourage you to choose healthy lifestyle behaviors, such as physical activity, to reduce your risks of developing cancer. M. D. Anderson also recommends the following:

-- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

-- Stay tobacco free.

-- Protect yourself from the sun.

-- Limit or avoid alcohol consumption.

-- Follow recommended screening guidelines.

-- Know your family's history of cancer.

-- Learn about certain medicines (i.e., tamoxifen, celecoxib) that may prevent cancer.

"Make exercise a lifelong habit, but see your doctor first before beginning an exercise program or new physical activities," Cook said.

University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
1515 Holcombe Blvd., Box 229
Houston, TX 77030
United States

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