Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

Macmillan Cancer Support

There is a lot of research being done to find out how food may affect the risk of cancer developing. Some research has shown that being overweight and not eating enough fruit and vegetables could increase your risk of cancer.

Having a balanced diet is one of the best choices you can make for your overall health. Many people find making this positive choice helps give them back a sense of control. It can also help you feel that you’re doing the best for your health. Thinking about what and how much you drink is part of this too.

Eating well and keeping to a healthy weight will help you maintain or regain your strength, have more energy, and have an increased sense of well-being. It can also help reduce the risk of new cancers and other diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

After cancer treatment, some people have a higher risk of other health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease or osteoporosis (bone thinning). If you’ve been told that you may be at an increased risk of any of these conditions, it’s especially important to follow a healthy diet to help prevent them.

Keeping active

Benefits of being active

Physical activity can be an important part of your recovery after cancer treatment.

During treatment, even just spending less time sitting down and taking short walks can help. Being active has many benefits and can help to:

  • reduce tiredness and some treatment side effects
  • reduce anxiety and depression
  • improve your mood and quality of life
  • strengthen your muscles, joints and bones
  • look after your heart and reduce the risk of other health problems.

Being active at recommended levels and keeping to a healthy weight may reduce the risk of certain cancers coming back.

If you are not used to exercising you may worry you’re not going to be able to keep it going. Being active doesn’t mean you have to exercise intensely. To start with it can be as simple as going for short walks, doing things around the house or gardening.

As you gradually build up your strength, you can choose an activity you enjoy. You’ll find that you have more energy and you’ll feel better. Being active can also be helpful if you have advanced cancer. It can help to reduce symptoms, as well as giving you a confidence boost.

Giving up smoking

If you’re a smoker, choosing to stop is a decision that will benefit your health. Smoking increases the risk of several types of cancer. It can also lead to heart and lung diseases. If you are coping with a cancer diagnosis, you may find it stressful to give up smoking. However, research has shown that non-smokers have fewer side effects during cancer treatment. If you are ready to stop, giving up smoking will help you feel better and be healthier.

You’ll find that giving up smoking has many benefits:

  • Health benefits – your doctor can discuss this with you and explain how smoking affects your body.
  • Financial benefits – giving up smoking could allow you to save up to £2,000 a year.
  • Physical benefits – your skin will look better.
  • Benefits to your family – you’ll protect them against the damaging effects of passive smoking.

For further information go to

The Macmillan Support Line is staffed by trained experts and offers people with cancer and their loved ones practical, clinical, financial and emotional support. Call free on 0808 808 0000 (Monday to Friday, 9am – 8pm).

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