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  • A look at lifestyle and men’s health

    12 June 2020

    Did you know that men have a higher chance of both being diagnosed with and dying from cancer than women? This Men’s Health Week, Cancer Council SA is encouraging men to reassess their everyday habits and make positive changes to protect their future health. 

    In Australia, over 6,000 more men die of cancer than women every year, and while there are several contributing factors, there is a very clear gap in the way men look after themselves when compared to women. 

    New data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is further negatively impacting the health of Australian men, with one in five men (21.8 per cent) reporting a reduction in exercise, as well as rises in unhealthy behaviours, such as eating more snack foods and drinking more alcohol.

    Why is this a bad thing?

    Lifestyle is one factor that contributes to greater cancer risk for three of the four most commonly diagnosed cancers among Australian men—bowel, melanoma and lung cancer.
    While the statistics show an increase in poor lifestyle choices from some Australian males at this time, the good news is that it’s never too late to make some simple changes to better your odds for reducing your cancer risk.

    Here are some key reasons why Cancer Council SA recommends modifying your lifestyle through maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding or limiting alcohol:

    • Maintain a healthy weight 
      Eating too many foods and drinks that are high in fat and sugar can contribute to excess energy, making it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. We know that being above a healthy weight can increase the risk of up to 13 types of cancer, which is why it is important to get the balance right between energy in (food/drinks) vs energy out (exercise).

    Fat cells have some important roles in our body, but when we consume more energy than we need, we gain weight and gain more fat cells. These fat cells also get bigger and bigger over time and this can disrupt the messages that are sent around the body. When a person is above a healthy weight for a long period of time, the disrupted messages can alter cells, increasing the chances of cell mutation. 

    For tips on how to maintain a healthy weight click here.

    • Limit or avoid alcohol
      Alcohol is a Group 1 carcinogen—the highest classification available—and means alcohol causes cancer. It is thought that there are a few ways in which alcohol causes cancer including:
      -    The alcohol (ethanol) in alcoholic drinks is converted into a toxic substance in the body, which damages DNA and stops cells from repairing
      -    Increasing hormones such as oestrogen, which are linked to breast cancer
      -    Altering cell function by changing folate metabolism

    With every drink, the risk of cell mutations and cancer increases. Simply put, alcohol is doing more harm that you think so with Dry July just around the corner, there is no better time than now to rethink and reduce your alcohol intake. For tips on how to reduce intake of alcohol click here.

    There are five other lifestyle factors that can help you reduce your cancer risk. Want to learn more? Further information on how to cut your cancer risk can be found here.

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