When people hear the words ‘cancer prevention’, they don’t often think of their employer. But research is proving that one of the best weapons against cancer is prevention through living a healthier lifestyle, and when it comes to the health and wellbeing of an individual, employers can actually play a significant role.
According to a new Canadian study, approximately 40% of cancer diagnoses can be prevented through lifestyle changes. In 2015 researchers estimated that nearly 70,000 cancer cases across Canada were likely attributable to lifestyle factors like poor diet choices, lack of exercise, air pollution and other preventable risk factors. Cancer can be such a formidable disease when it takes over the body, but it’s amazing to consider that making simple adjustments to your lifestyle could prevent it from ever having the chance.
The reality is that these lifestyle adjustments aren’t always that simple to make. We live in a consumer-driven culture with too much junk food, supersized portions, bad diet scams and endless messages promoting lifestyle habits that simply don’t do the body good. Individuals need to take responsibility for their own cancer prevention, and they need guidance. Below is a breakdown of what individuals can do to prevent cancer, and how employers can help.
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WHAT INDIVIDUALS CAN DO
1. Know you numbers. Body Mass Index (BMI), cholesterol, blood pressure, fasting glucose, waist circumferences, triglycerides – these are some of the numbers that you should clearly understand and discuss with your team of healthcare providers to identify potential areas of health risk.
2. Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight is the second leading preventable cause of cancer, but maintaining a healthy weight is a challenge for many Canadians. Some fall victim to our culture’s constant promotion of foods without proper nutrients; others want to lose weight quickly by not eating enough or making inconsistent changes to their diet. Even the time of day we eat affects our weight. There’s a lot to understand about how to effectively maintain a healthy weight, and it’s critical to that you manage your weight in a way that considers personal health risk factors, weight goals and lifestyle.
3. Exercise. Incorporating a regular exercise routine into your lifestyle has truly incredible effects on so many areas of the body. It helps you control your weight, reduce your risk of heart disease, and it strengthens your bones and muscles. When you consider the importance of your numbers and their relation to your overall risk of cancer, making exercise a part of your lifestyle is one of the best ways to get those numbers where you want them.
4. Talk with your doctor. Individual health management requires special attention to personal risk factors for injury and illness. By speaking with your doctor you can learn about preventive health strategies that fit your specific lifestyle and risk factors. Your doctor can help you better understand things like available vaccinations to aid in the prevention of certain cancers like cervical cancer and throat cancer (HPV vaccine) and liver cancer (Hep B vaccine).
HOW EMPLOYERS CAN HELP
1. Promote better health for your employees. The majority of an employee’s time is spent at the workplace, and if their workplace is designed to support a healthier lifestyle, then they have a much better chance at success. This represents a serious win/win for employers, because studies show that a healthier employee is proven to be far more productive, present and satisfied.
2. Reduce risk factors and costs. Canadian employees with two or more lifestyle risk factors (such as a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking or a high alcohol intake) are absent 50% more often than those without risk factors, and they cost their employers two to three times more in health benefit costs. “The cost of recruiting and training replacement workers and the cumulative negative impact that unhealthy employees have on productivity, workplace injury risk, and employee morale far exceed the costs of absenteeism,” explains Dr. Farrell Cahill, head of research at Medisys Health Group.
3. Promote a healthier culture overall. An increase in both mental and physical health has profound effects on internal corporate culture, which is why we’re seeing more and more companies providing preventive health and wellness programs such as biometric assessment, on-site workout classes, training programs, lunch & learns and preventive health assessments. A healthy corporate culture is greater than the sum of its parts, and can make a real, measurable impact on your company.
Preventive health is about facilitating a healthy lifestyle with specific attention to individual risk factors, and it’s proving to be a critical factor in cancer prevention. At Medysis we help you incorporate preventive health into your corporate culture, so you can support cancer prevention for all of your employees, and support your company at the same time. To find out more about how Medysis can help your workplace, or to book your next preventive health assessment, click here.