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health 7 By Lisa Salmon

A recent study reveals that seven lifestyle steps designed to improve heart health can also massively reduce the risk of cancer. Experts outline the Simple Seven and explain why following these relatively small steps can make a huge difference to overall health.

simple steps to good health

Life’s Simple 7 rules, compiled by the American Heart Association, were designed as easy ways of improving heart health. However, new research has now found that the seven steps, which include eating well, being active and watching your blood pressure, can help keep other major diseases at bay too.

The Simple 7 were revealed to reduce the risk of cancer by up to 51%, compared with people who didn’t follow any of the rules, as well as having a significant impact on the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The study, by Northwestern University in the US, also found that following four of the seven steps led to a 33% risk reduction in cancer, and adopting just one or two rules cut risk by 21%.

Laura Rasmussen-Torvik, lead author of the study, says: “This can help health professionals provide a clear, consistent message about the most important things people can do to protect their health and lower their overall risk for chronic diseases.” Pav Kalsi, clinical advisor at Diabetes UK, adds: “There’s good evidence that eating a healthy diet, keeping active and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“For a person who already has diabetes, maintaining healthy blood glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure levels will reduce the chance of complications, such as heart attacks, stroke or kidney disease.”

Amy Thompson, a senior cardiac nurse from the British Heart Foundation (BHF), says heart disease and cancer are the leading causes of death in the UK, and points out: “We already know that they share some common risk factors. “Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health, but getting plenty of exercise, eating a healthy balanced diet and watching your blood pressure and blood cholesterol are all vital ways to protect your heart.”

She suggests people over the age of 40 who have any health concerns should ask their GP for a free health check, which aims to identify problems early, and give advice on simple lifestyle and health measures like the factors outlined in the Simple 7. “These factors all link in with each other,” stresses Thompson, “so try to address as many of them as you can. But any reduction in risk is beneficial, especially if you start young - so do it now!”

Dr Helga Groll, health information officer at Cancer Research UK, adds: “The study is a reminder that a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of more than one type of disease.

“Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t guarantee a person won’t develop cancer or other diseases, but it helps stack the odds in our favour.”

Turnover for details of the Simple 7 steps

Life Begins 13

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