Eat healthy and get active to help fight cancer

Wednesday, February 4, 2009
By: 
Gabi Khumalo

Johannesburg - The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) has on World Cancer Day encouraged South Africans to eat healthy and exercise regularly to help fight cancer.

The day, which is marked on 4 February, aims to raise awareness of the global impact of cancer and increase understanding of prevention, detection, treatment and care.

CANSA National Executive Director, Sue Janse van Rensburg calls on families, health professionals and educators to promote health and help prevent cancer by encouraging healthy active lifestyles.

"Eating healthy food and getting regular exercise from a young age are important ways to stay fit and reduce your risk of getting cancer later in life, as being overweight or obese can lead to cancer," Ms van Rensburg said.

She added that children should be encouraged to balance food and drink choices with physical activity.

The environment in which children grow up at home, in schools and in the community, powerfully influences their choices and behaviour, she said.

CANSA has organises a number of national and community events around the country to commemorate World Cancer Day.

Among the events include exhibitions, fun walks and talks, hospital visits, prayer services and candle-light ceremonies.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more adults and children are overweight or obese with one billion adults overweight and at least 300 million of them clinically obese.

Estimates are that one out of every 10 school-age children is overweight, of those, around 30 to 45 million are classified as obese accounting for 2 to 3 percent of the worlds children aged five and 17.

According to WHO, dietary factors, physical inactivity, overweight and obesity are estimated to account for approximately 30 percent of cancers in western countries, making diet and physical activity second only to tobacco as a preventable cause of cancer.

This proportion is thought to be about 20 percent in developing countries and is projected to grow, said WHO.

The main types of cancer leading to overall cancer mortality are lung, stomach, liver, colon and breast.

Healthy tips for the family include choosing low fat high-fibre foods (whole grain bread, oats, braai pap, sorghum, beans, brown rice), eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, drink clean water, diluted unsweetened fruit juice, low-fat milk, herbal tea, take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator.

Other tips include limit watching television or computer games, walk, jog or play ball games with your children, park further from the shopping centre entrance and encourage your children to play a sport at school.