On Daffodil Day - simple steps to prevent cancer

Daffodil Day, this Friday March 23, aims to raise awareness of cancer, and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF ) estimated that approximately one third of all cancers are preventable by making positive changes to our lifestyles.

The key recommendations of the WCRF are:

- Watch your weight. If possible aim to be within a healthy range, and be careful of weight around the tummy.

- Be physically active as part of everyday life. All forms of activity can protect against cancer as well as against weight gain. It is recommended that you are active for at least 30 minutes every day.

- Avoid sugary and fatty foods and drinks - all the top shelf of the food pyramid like fizzy drinks, sweets, chocolate, pastries, buns, and fast food. These foods give us large amounts of energy, few vitamins and minerals, and may cause weight gain.

- Eat more fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and pulses; these foods are high in nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and dietary fibre and have been shown to reduce risk of cancer. Choose wholegrain breads, pasta, and cereals regularly.

- Limit the amount of red meat in your diet. Try to include lean red meat in your diet two to three times per week; this will provide a valuable source of nutrients, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. Try to avoid processed meats like sausages, luncheon meats, and bacon.

- If you drink, limit alcohol to two standard drinks per day for men and one standard drink for women. Research has shown that even a small amount of alcohol over the recommended amounts will increase your risk of cancer.

- Try to avoid salty foods and foods processed with salt. Don’t add salt at the table and watch out for processed foods which can be laden with salt.

- Don’t use supplements to protect against cancer . Having a varied diet should provide all of the vitamins and minerals your body needs - apart from folic acid which is recommended for women who are planning a pregnancy or could get pregnant.

To lower your risk of developing cancer the advice is simple; eat more fruit and vegetables, and include more high fibre foods. Try to reduce the amount of foods in your diet that are high in fat, sugar, and salt and aim to be physically active for at least 30 minutes per day. Cancer prevention is in your hands – reduce your risk today.

By Pauline Dunne, community dietitian. For more information see www.cancer.ie For more information on diet and nutrition see www.indi.ie, or contact Maria at the Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster at (044 ) 9353220 or email [email protected].

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