At a time when medical research is indicating that there could be a 75% surge in cancer cases by 2030, the World Health Organization (WHO) is saying that you can reduce your personal risk factors for cancer by lifestyle changes.

This is good news for those who are committed to a healthy lifestyle! The key changes that each individual can make are include reducing tobacco use and decreasing alcohol consumption. Tobacco alone is one of the biggest risk factors, behind almost 1/4 of cancer deaths across the globe and the key issue in 7 out of 10 lung cancer deaths.

However, even those who don’t smoke or consume alcohol can take action to reduce their personal cancer risk – and that can be done through a combination of good sleep and regular exercise. This really works as well: the right combination of exercise and good quality sleep is associated with a reduced cancer risk of both breast and colon, according to a study presented to the American Association for Cancer Research.

The study looked at sleep and exercise compared to overall breast and colon cancer in almost 6,000 women who were at least 18 years old and had not had cancer previously.

It turns out that while you need to get your exercise, you also need to get your sleep. There is a link between the two which suggest that sleep changes the relationship between being active and cancer among young and middle-aged females. Sleeping less than 7 hours per night is associated with an overall increase in the risk of cancers; the increase in risk from lack of sleep wipes out any benefits gained from physical activity.

However, if you get enough sleep and are in the top 50 per cent of exercisers, you significantly reduce your chance of breast cancer and cancer overall.

The exact reason why exercise helps keep you cancer free is not known. However, researchers hypothesize that physical activity has an affect on hormone levels, immune function and body weight – which all play an important role in overall health.

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