Most people are aware of the connection between physical activity and good health. And they’re also aware of the connection between exercise and increased longevity. Cancer isn’t any different, in that knowledge has brought about vast improvements in the way it’s treated and detected. The downside, unfortunately, is that the majority of us aren’t living long enough to undergo its ravages on a personal level.
Yet advances in medical treatment alone can never be enough to completely stem the tide of cancer for any particular disease. As any other public health specialist knows, on a national level, the only means to significantly reduce mortality and incidence of any disease is through comprehensive prevention. However, it seems that in the United States, too few people are willing to follow that advice. Despite overwhelming evidence linking poor diet and lack of exercise to a variety of diseases and fatalities, too many people are willing to let go of the knowledge they need to make better choices for themselves. Rather than make an informed decision about their own health, many succumb to advances in the disease that they can’t control entirely. In short, the most pressing issue facing the nation today is the alarming rate of childhood and premature death linked to poor nutrition and lack of exercise.
This realization doesn’t come as a huge surprise, seeing as how much has been revealed about the relationship between diet and cancer. There’s no mystery to the link between a sedentary lifestyle and increased risk of heart disease or diabetes. But one area that remains largely unseen is the effect that poor diet and lack of physical activity has on the growth of potentially life-threatening cancer cells. As detailed in a new study published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, daily physical activity has been shown to dramatically reduce the formation of two cancer-causing proteins, called proline and glycine-based receptor sites. The findings, which were led by Dr. Robert D. Gordon, PhD, from the Department of Radiology and pulmonary physiology at Harvard University School of Medicine, point to the necessity for more comprehensive efforts to reduce cancer risks.
Although exercise may prevent many cancers, it certainly isn’t effective against all types. Exercise may help prevent small, skin-cancer-causing warts, for instance. But for serious diseases like leukemia, lung cancer and pancreatic cancer, exercise may not be able to prevent them at all. And even when exercise does contribute to a reduction in these types of diseases, it may not prevent a full-blown diagnosis.
For that reason, it is important for all Americans to become aware of the latest research and developments in this area. Exercise and diet should not only be considered for weight loss and prevention of chronic diseases. Proper screening for cancer should be a part of every individual’s annual visit to their physician. By focusing on early detection and prevention, death rates for many cancers may be dramatically reduced.
Unfortunately, many people don’t get regular screenings until they’re too ill to go to a doctor. When cancer prevention is the issue, however, people should go to the doctor as soon as they suspect a disease-causing symptom. By doing so, they may not only catch cancer early, but they may also detect other disease-causing abnormalities, which might lead to earlier detection and successful treatment. A cancer institute is a good resource for more information about the importance of cancer prevention screenings.