Reporting on health and quality of life in South LA

Maintaining a healthy heart may also help prevent cancer, say experts

cheeseburger

LenDog64/Flickr Creative Commons

Cutting back on foods high in cholesterol, like cheeseburgers, can help promote heart health, say cardiologists. According to new research, that means it may also, in turn, help prevent the development of cancer.

Think of it as killing two very important birds with one stone.

A new study appearing in the journal Circulation says taking steps to improve heart health can also play a role in cancer prevention.

Circulation is the journal of the American Heart Association, which previously enumerated those steps and called them "Life's Simple 7":

  1. Be physically active. (Perhaps by taking a walk around your neighborhood?)
  2. Maintain a healthy weight. (Around one-third of South L.A adults don't.)
  3. Eat a healthy diet. (Which means no excess salt, sugar or fried food, and then adding some produce, for starters.)
  4. Maintain healthy cholesterol levels. (Which means reading that nutrition label and avoiding foods high in trans fats, saturated fats and, of course, cholesterol.)
  5. Keep your blood pressure down. (More than 14 million people in the U.S. don't even know they have high blood pressure.)
  6. Maintain healthy blood sugar levels. (Because the alternative's not cheap, for one – diabetes cost the U.S. $245 billion in 2012 alone.)
  7. Don't smoke. (There's a website that can help you quit, or give 1-800-QUIT-NOW a call.)

"Adherence to [those] seven ideal health metrics … is associated with lower cancer incidence," wrote the study's authors. People who followed three metrics reduced their cancer risk by 25 percent compared to folks who didn't follow any; people who followed six or more of those metrics reduced their risk by 51 percent.

Most people in the study followed two or three metrics, with only 0.1 percent of the more than 13,000 participants following all seven.

In a statement, the study's lead author, Laura Rasmussen-Torvik said she and her co-authors are "trying to promote a comprehensive health message," focusing on not just one health issue, but how multiple unhealthy behaviors can form a complex web.

Photo by LenDog64 via Flickr Creative Commons.

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