Lowering Cancer Risk for Aboriginal People

blackberrries on a vine

Are you looking for ways to stay healthy and lower your risk of cancer? Sometimes cancer occurs for reasons outside our control, but you can also take steps to help decrease your risk.  Read on to get tips to lower your risk of cancer and boost your overall health.

How can I lower my cancer risk? 

1. Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight to lower your cancer risk

This may be one of the most important ways to protect against cancer as well as other chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Are you looking for support to help manage your weight? For more information read Five tips on maintaining your weight as you age and Checklist for Choosing a Weight Loss Program.

2. Eat Well 

Eating a healthy diet is important to lower your risk of cancer.  Start by following Eating Well with Canada’s Food Guide First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Below are more tips to help you lower your cancer risk.

3. Choose traditional foods often to lower your cancer risk

Traditional Aboriginal foods can help you and your family lower your risk of cancer.  Make healthy meals with:

  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Wild meat and fresh/canned fish
  • Whole grain bannock and noodles, brown and wild rice, oats and other whole grains
  • Eggs
  • Legumes (beans, peas and lentils)
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Skim milk powder and UHT milk

4. Limit foods high in fat, sugar and salt to lower your cancer risk

Limit processed foods like:

  • Fast food (hamburgers, French fries and chicken nuggets)
  • Pop, fruit drinks and drink crystals
  • Chips and salty snacks
  • Frozen dinners
  • Pastries, cookies, baked goods, chocolate bars and candy
  • Canned or processed meat (deli meat, hot dogs)
  • Canned soups
  • Processed cheese 

5. Limit fat intake to lower your cancer risk

Steam, broil, bake and roast foods rather than frying them. Use small amounts of vegetable oil instead of lard. Read more about reducing fat in the kitchen.

6. Be physically active every day to lower your cancer risk

Start with 30 minutes of physical activity a day, like walking. As you feel your fitness level improving, aim for 60 minutes or more of moderate activity. This includes walking briskly, cycling, dancing or swimming.  Choose the activities you enjoy. Limit sedentary activities like watching television, playing video games or sitting at your computer. If you are new to physical activity, speak to your doctor before getting started.

7. Limit alcohol to lower your cancer risk

If you drink alcohol, limit the amount to 2 drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. This includes wine, liquor and spirits. One drink is 350 mL (12 oz) bottle of beer or 150 mL (5 oz) of wine or 45 mL (1.5 oz) of liquor like vodka, whisky, rum or gin.

8. Quit smoking 

If you smoke, consider getting help to quit with the Aboriginal tobacco program. For more tips, read Lowering your Risk of Cancer.

Should I get screened for cancer? 

Yes. Cancer screening means taking a test that can find cancer before you have any symptoms. Finding cancer early is one of the best ways to overcome it. Ontario has an Aboriginal Cancer Strategy dedicated to improving cancer outcomes in First Nations, Inuit and Métis people.  Learn more about the screening programs available for colon cancer, breast cancer and cervical cancer. Talk to your doctor or health care provider about getting screened for cancer.

Bottom line 

Take healthy steps to help prevent cancer by getting screened regularly, maintaining a healthy body weight, being physically active and making healthy food choices.

Last Update – April 26, 2018

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