Healthful living reduces cancer risk, study says

The October 31 report is the "most definitive advice on preventing cancer that has ever been available." The report is a result of five years of research analyzing some 7,000 previous studies. [photo: courtesy WCRF International][November 2, 2007] Silver Spring, Maryland, United States .... [Ansel Oliver/ANN]

A report on the link between cancer and diet, physical activity and weight is providing more evidence that healthful living fights disease.

After a mega-study of 7,000 previous studies, scientists have offered 10 recommendations for avoiding preventable cancer, including maintaining a healthy weight and limiting consumption of red meat and alcohol.

The report, released by the London-based World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) on October 31, is the largest collection of data ever brought together on the subject, researchers said.

Other recommendations include adequate exercise, eating a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and grains, limiting consumption of salty, processed food and avoiding sugary drinks. The study also said "the evidence that alcohol is a cause of cancer is stronger now than ever before."

"This report is a real milestone in the fight against cancer, because its recommendations represent the most definitive advice on preventing cancer that has ever been available anywhere in the world," project director Martin Wiseman said in a media release.

Leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church said the international Protestant denomination's emphasis on healthful living and celebration of life is now further backed by evidence.

"It validates what we, as Adventists, have been saying about our health message," said
Dr. Allan Handysides, Health Ministries director for the Adventist world church.

The Adventist Church's health principles are rooted in the teachings of church co-founder Ellen G. White who wrote about the subject more than 100 years ago.

Handysides noted that reactions to the new report were mixed.

"The response, even to the massive amount of data, is similar to the response when the data on tobacco was first released," Handysides said, referring to reactions from food industry lobbyists and other critics.

"It takes integrity to take news and process it with a balanced and fair mind," he said, urging church members to do the same.

"The basis for our vegetarianism is the pursuit of health and not the pursuit of anybody else's agenda but our own," Handysides said.

Trish Guy, manager of Adventist-owned Sanitarium Nutrition Service in Australia, welcomed the report and its recommendations.

"As a nation, we are experiencing increasing rates of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and obesity and studies have shown Australians are not eating adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables," Guy said.

The current WCRF report was the result of five years of research. The WCRF was established in 1982 to research and raise awareness of the link between lifestyle choices and preventable cancers