A Healthy Lifestyle May Lower the Risk of Cancer for African Americans
The holiday season has passed, and perhaps many of us had a lot to eat during the last couple of weeks. However by eating unhealthy and not getting physically active, many African Americans are putting themselves at risk of developing cancer.
Akinso: The holiday season has passed, and perhaps many of us had a lot to eat during the last couple of weeks. However by eating unhealthy and not getting physically active, many African Americans are putting themselves at risk of developing cancer. Researchers are learning that a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of cancer. Dr. Tanya Agurs-Collins, a Nutritionist at the National Cancer Institute, discusses the forms of cancer that are prominent in the African American community.
Collins: The three top would be breast, colon, and prostate cancer. So for example, African Americans males have a higher prevalence or a higher incidence of prostate cancer, the highest in the United States. Also colorectal cancer is high among African Americans particularly African American males. Breast Cancer, the incidence is much higher in African American women who are less than 35 years of age and the mortality rates are much higher in African Americans for all of these types of cancers.
Akinso: Dr. Collins said research suggest that a healthy diet can help decrease cancer risk. However African Americans tend to eat foods which are high in saturated fat and high in calories. Dr. Collins provides some healthy dieting types for African Americans.
Collins: There are a number of different ways that they can substitute certain foods. Particularly the focus should be on decreasing the fat in the diet particularly saturated fat which are found in animal products. And so one way to do that it would be to substitute those foods that are not real healthy, for example instead of using ham hock and pork in your greens you can substitute that and actually use leaner types of meat such as turkey. We all love macaroni and cheese, instead of using the regular cheese you can substitute and use low fat cheese. If the recipe calls for cream you can use evaporated milk. So those are just some examples of how one can lower the fat content in their diet.
Akinso: Researchers are learning that physical activity can also affect the risk of cancer. There is evidence that physical activity is associated with a reduced risk of cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, and lung. According to Dr. Collins, despite these health benefits many African Americans aren't physically active on a regular basis.
Collins: Unfortunately we are not as active as we should be. You know a lot of it is the time. You know the change in times. In other words there are more individuals who are playing video games and watching TV. We need to get together as a family and start walking and getting out more. So the level of physical activity in the African American community is much lower than what it should be and so that's something that we need to encourage at least increasing or engaging in activity at least 20 to 30 minutes a day, 5 to 7 days a week.
Akinso: The NCI has funded several studies, which deal with lifestyle factors such as measuring physical activity, and examining dietary factors and how they may influence breast cancer and colorectal cancer. If you're looking for some healthy lifestyle tips to lower the risk of cancer, visit, www.cancer.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Tanya Agurs-Collins