Turns out getting cancer isn’t bad luck, or is it?

Salt shaker spilled over, pile of salt around it

Good thing I closely follow media reports on health research. Without this information, I’d probably be dead by now. There’s a new study suggesting that a reduced-sodium diet places people at higher risk for heart attack or stroke. Last Friday night, J. and I did what normal people do regularly: we ordered a high-sodium pizza from the local place. After reading that study, I felt so much better about consuming the sodium bomb.

Remember the “bad luck” cancer study that was published a while back? It suggested that lifestyle factors were less important than the genetic card you were dealt in determining whether you’d be diagnosed with cancer. A new study published last week has countered this finding, thank God. Male and female health professionals were followed for several years. The researchers discovered that four factors contributed to their not getting cancer. I’ll review them for you so you can implement them immediately.

First, in case you hadn’t heard, smoking is a bad idea, especially if you indulge over the long term. I do not smoke, I have never smoked, and I don’t plan to take up smoking in the near future. Why not, you may ask, since I already have cancer? Good point.

Second, alcohol consumption should not exceed one drink per day maximum for females, and two for males. (And they say girls have more fun.) Keeping within this range has never been a problem for me. I am not a drinker, I never have been, and, now that my liver is ailing, I don’t plan to take up drinking anytime soon. But don’t worry, I have many other vices in place to fill the void.

Third, the BMI range for cancer prevention is somewhere between 18.5 (very skinny) to 27.5 (chubby but not obese). Most of my life, I have stayed within this range, despite my high sugar and chocolate consumption. Sure, I trained for a marathon so I could replenish after long training runs with ice cream sundaes. Do you have a problem with that?

Finally, 75 minutes of high-intensity or 150 of moderate-intensity exercise is recommended each week. Easy peasy. Exercise is my Prozac. I may not be the high-intensity gal I was through my teens into my forties, but I still manage to meet and exceed the moderate-intensity guidelines by walking the dog at a furious pace and attending regular strenuous yoga classes.

But wait a minute, through my life I’ve met all those guidelines, so why do I have cancer? Maybe this study applies to health professionals, i.e., doctors and nurses, but not mental health professionals like me. (Had I just gone to medical school, I’d be cancer free.) Or maybe the study is looking at trends within a population and not at specific people. Guess I do have bad luck after all.

Now that I have leukemia, should I keep up the health-promoting behaviours so I don’t get a new and different kind of cancer, or should I give it all up? Has all this fretting about my weight, and my sodium intake, been for naught? Might as well pick up another pizza on the way home, honey. Yes, extra cheese and pepperoni. Thanks.

Pizza with one slice lifted, cheese and pepperoni

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2 thoughts on “Turns out getting cancer isn’t bad luck, or is it?

    • PMH: I could have wine, but it would be wasted on me. You can have it on my behalf. Perhaps a microbrewery beer perfected by a scientist? No, I wouldn’t appreciate that either. Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to eat another piece of that pizza to balance things. XO

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