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  • New Guidelines Emphasize Physical Activity in Cancer Prevention

    Adopting a physically active lifestyle can help achieve and maintain a healthful weight and affect the levels of some hormones that contribute to cancer formation, say new guidelines recently issued by the American Cancer Society (ASC).  

    ASC's guidelines are revised approximately every 5 years by a national panel of experts in cancer research, prevention, epidemiology, public health, and policy. They reflect the most current scientific evidence related to dietary and activity patterns and cancer risk. The guidelines focus on recommendations for individual choices regarding diet and physical activity patterns, but they recognize that choices occur within a community context that either facilitates or creates barriers to healthy behaviors. Therefore, the experts present recommendations for community action to accompany the 4 recommendations for individual choices to reduce cancer risk.

    Specific to physical activity, ASC says, "Although the optimal intensity, duration, and frequency of physical activity needed to reduce cancer risk are unknown, approaching and exceeding 300 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week or 150 minutes of vigorous activity per week is likely to provide additional protection against cancer." For people who are inactive or just beginning an exercise program, "engaging in activity levels below the recommended minimum can still be beneficial." Furthermore, because children who are engaged in physical activity are more likely to remain active as adults, and because physical activity plays a critical role in weight maintenance, children and adolescents should be physically active at moderate to vigorous intensities for at least 1 hour per day, with vigorous activity occurring at least 3 days per week. 

    In addition to adopting a physically active lifestyle, the guidance calls for people to eat a healthful diet, with an emphasis on fruits and vegetables, and limit alcohol consumption.

    The guidelines are published in the January/February issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

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