Using a lunch break wisely may cut your chances of developing cancer later in life.
Recent figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) show that around 14 million people are diagnosed with cancer every year, a figure that is predicted to rise to 22 million in the next two decades.1
Colon and stomach cancers are some of the most common in developed countries. These are heavily linked to the sedentary lifestyle that comes with longer working hours, less exercise, and poorer nutrition.1
This summer’s #HealthAhead initiative is encouraging employers and employees to get more active at work, and reduce the risk of developing cancer. It has been launched in light of research, commissioned by GE, revealing that a sedentary lifestyle and poor food choices may be partly to blame for the rise in cancer cases.2
Adults in several countries were surveyed by GE about their diet and eating habits. In Saudi Arabia, 35 percent of those surveyed admitted to having a poor diet. Following closely was the USA with 32 percent. In contrast, only 2 percent in India and 5 percent in Japan felt they weren’t eating well.2
A recent Google Hangout hosted by GE Healthcare and the American Cancer Society (ACS) gathered together some of the leaders in workplace health to discuss ways to incorporate healthy eating habits into a packed working day.
“One piece of advice would be to look at the catering facilities of [the] place of work,” said Jason Morgan, Director of Global Health and Wellness at GE Healthcare. “What healthy options are available at the vending machine and cafeteria? Are they supportive in creating a culture of healthy eating? Each item can be labelled so employees can take one look and make a quick decision as to what is healthy and what isn’t.”
Colleen Doyle, Director of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the ACS, remarked that people need to know what food choices are best for their health, but also for their wallets. “One of the things [you can do] is to buy things that are in season, and less expensive. Now is a great time to eat more fruits and vegetables, whether they be canned or frozen.”
Lack of exercise, another risk factor for cancer, appears to be a global problem too. GE’s research showed the proportion of adults in several countries who do not exercise regularly. Saudi Arabia came out on top with 69 percent, followed by Japan with 60 percent and Brazil with 49 percent. Only 16 percent of those surveyed in India felt they were too inactive.2
You needn’t go to herculean extremes to lead a healthier work life. Incremental changes in daily routine, and the introduction of simple habits, can make a big difference. Try getting up from your desk once an hour, and have a short walk. Swap out unhealthy snacks like sweets and crisps for alternatives like fruit or a handful of almonds. Deliver a message to a colleague in person, rather than by phone or email. Take it a step further by going for a light jog or hitting the gym at lunch.
Check out the #HealthAhead hashtag on Twitter to read and share tips on how to start the week right, and make a Monday resolution.
A little knowledge can go a long way. Next week, we will shed some light on what to look out for when dealing with cancer. Seeing the signs, and recognizing changes in your body, can help you know when the time is right to get checked.