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Lifestyle Changes to Improve Longevity and Quality of Life
Ernest H. Rosenbaum, MD
In line with the guidance provided by the Survivorship Care Plan Summary, survivors need supportive care programs to aid them in developing healthy lifestyles and ways to reduce comorbidity.
Despite the fact that the US spends more money on health care than any other nation, ($2.1 Trillion in 2006, approximately 16% of the nation's gross domestic product), it ranks very low in almost every measure of health status. Personal behavioral changes are needed for obesity, physical inactivity and smoking to reduce these leading causes of premature deaths.
Of the half million cancer deaths in the United States annually, it is believed that some are caused by diet (eating the wrong foods and/or excessive amounts of food), one-third by tobacco exposure, and a small percentage due to alcohol. Genetic inheritance with cell mutations accounts for a 6-8% risk of cancer. The fact that about 65% of cancer patients are over the age of 65 is evidence of a relationship between age and cancer.
There is no guarantee that cancer will be prevented when one adopts healthy lifestyle activities. The guidelines of the American Cancer Society (ACS), American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), and the Oncology Nursing Society provide a healthy direction and information vital to those who wish to reduce their cancer risk.
- - Avoid weight gain (especially after menopause for women). Try to maintain a healthy weight by balancing the amount of food calories consumed with the calories expended through daily life activity and physical exercise.
- Increase fruits, vegetables, and whole grain foods. Reduce dietary fats, saturated fats, and trans-fats.
- Exercise at least one-half to one hour a day - for example, brisk walking.
- Consume minimal alcohol- limit use to a maximum one drink per day for women, two per day for men.
- Don't use tobacco in any form.
- Avoid excess sun exposure.
- Adopt an osteoporosis prevention program.
- Improve your survivorship: use available information on cancer prevention and know early warning signs and symptoms of new or recurrent cancer
Following the guidelines is a difficult challenge for most people!
In general, Americans are eating more and engaging in less physical activity; many work at sedentary jobs and many households require two full-time workers to make financial ends meet, reducing the time available to prepare meals properly and perform an adequate amount of physical activity. Often, the areas or buildings for physical activity may be less accessible for those living in cities. Healthy lifestyles require time and the willingness to make an extra effort to implement healthy guidelines.
Lifestyle Habits Needed to Improve Longevity and Quality of Life
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