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Nutrition and Physical Activity

Daily habits like diet and exercise affect your risk of developing cancer and other chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Good nutrition and physical activity not only significantly reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases but also can prevent or control serious health conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and elevated cholesterol.

Being overweight can increase cancer risk in many ways. One of the main ways is that excess weight causes the body to produce and circulate more estrogen and insulin, hormones that can stimulate cancer growth. Research has been shown that poor diet and not being active are 2 key factors that can increase a person's cancer risk. An estimated 20% of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are related to body fatness, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, and/or poor nutrition, and thus could be prevented. Therefore, there are things that you can do to help eliminate some of these risks. Some of the most important things you can do to help reduce your cancer risk include:

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Be physically active on a regular basis
  • Make healthy food choices
  • Quit smoking
  • Limit the amount of alcohol you drink

According to Healthy People 2020, most Americans fail to have a healthy diet and physically active lifestyle. As a result, the Nation has experienced a dramatic increase in obesity which has been linked to several chronic diseases including certain cancers such as endometrial, breast, and colorectal cancer among others. Today, approximately 1 in 3 adults (34%) and 1 in 6 children and adolescents (16.2%) are obese. Participating in regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet is a critical step in improving the overall health of Americans at every age. To help live a healthier lifestyle see Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans and Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Visit ADPH’s Nutrition and Physical Activity Division and Scale Back Alabama where you will be able to learn important tips and facts on how to properly eat right and be healthy.

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Page last updated: June 12, 2024