So it's nearly that time of year again - the New Year. Pretty soon you'll be dragging yourself out of a turkey-induced coma, looking upon your waistline (hoping you can still see your feet) and brushing off the dust of 2011 ready for a brand new year. With pen in hand you'll think, ‘it's time for a list of New Year's resolutions.'
But where to start - and how do you make sure this year you can actually keep your resolutions, rather than adding another list to the recycle bin with nothing crossed off it? Take heart though, there is an easy way to cross items off your resolution list and cut your cancer risk at the same time - no truly there is.
While exercising more, drinking less alcohol and giving up smoking top the list of resolutions people make each year (and they are great ones to have) you can also resolve to keep up-to-date with cancer screening, stop tanning and cut back on sugary soft drinks - easy resolutions to keep. Screening has to be one of the easiest things to cross off your list - all you need to do is go for a check-up with your GP and get up-to-date with any tests that are relevant for your age and sex.
There are screening tests for breast, bowel and cervical cancer which save countless lives. You can also resolve to be more vigilant in checking yourself for changes in your body and on your skin - and use sunscreen throughout the year.
After the festive season, many people resolve to improve their diets, so if you're looking for an easy way to cut calories then cut back on sugary soft drinks. Recent research has found a link between sugar-laden drinks and weight gain. Obesity is a significant risk factor for various types of cancer as well as many other chronic illnesses.
There are many New Year's resolutions people can make for 2012 - here are Cancer Council Victoria's Cut Your Cancer Risk team's top seven:
1. Get checked. Don't put off having your cancer screening tests. When cancers are caught at an early stage, there is a much better chance of successful treatment. Here are some stats you need to know you about screening:
• 90% of women diagnosed with cervical cancer have not had a Pap test for 10 years before being diagnosed. It's recommended all women who have ever been sexually active, between 18 and 70, have a Pap test every two years.
• 90% of bowel cancers are curable if detected early. Bowel cancer screening tests can find bowel cancer at an early stage and save your life. It's recommended men and women 50 and older do a test every two years.
• 95% of skin cancers can be successfully treated if found at an early stage. So if you have any moles you're not quite sure about - get them checked out by a health professional or GP.
2. Maintain a healthy weight. Studies show that more than a third of Australia's cancer deaths relate to unhealthy lifestyles including poor eating and exercise habits. Women should aim for a waistline of less than 85cm while men's mid sections should be no more than 100cm to significantly decrease the risk of cancer and other chronic illnesses.
3. Be physically active. Research has shown up to one hour of moderate activity or 30 minutes of vigorous activity daily can cut your risk of cancer. There is good evidence that risk of developing two of the most common Australian cancers, colon and breast, decreases with exercise.
4. Quit smoking. More than 10,000 Australians are diagnosed with a smoking-related cancer every year and lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in the state. If you smoke, we suggest you put down the cigarettes and call Quitline on 13 7848 (13 QUIT) or visit the website for more advice.
5. Limit alcohol. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of mouth & throat cancer (larynx and pharynx), oesophageal cancer, bowel cancer (colon and rectum), liver cancer and female breast cancer. If you choose to drink, try and limit your alcohol intake to two standard drinks a day.
6. Eat a balanced diet. Australian Bureau of Statistics data released in May 2011 shows that the number of obese adults in Australia (37%) equals the number of adults with a healthy weight now in Australia - a worrying trend. Especially when you consider the link between being overweight and cancer. Eating a balanced diet and exercising has a significant impact on your health reducing your cancer risk.
7. Be SunSmart. In Victoria alone 343 people will die from skin cancer (melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer) each year - this is currently more than the state's annual road toll. So, Slip Slop Slap Seek Slide and save your skin. Visit www.sunsmart.com.au
Happy New Year everyone from the CYCR team - we'll be back in 2012 with more of our witty blog posts and funny anecdotes for you all.
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