Researchers considered the following a “healthy lifestyle:” Not currently smoking or having a history of heavy smoking, drinking 2 or fewer drinks a day, maintaining a body mass index (BMI) between 19 and 25, and exercising at a moderate intensity for at least 150 minutes each week.
The same factors that help your heart might protect your prostate, too: Men who hit certain healthy-lifestyle markers were 40 percent less likely to die from prostate cancer than other guys in the general U.S. population were, a new study in JAMA Oncology found.
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It’s likely that the combination of these factors provides stronger cancer-preventing effects than what any one could give alone, says study author Mingyang Song, M.D., research fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
That’s not to say that each doesn’t play its own role in cancer prevention, though.
For instance, the same cancer-causing substances in cigarettes that fuel lung cancer may also mess with the hormones in your body, like insulin. And elevated insulin levels have been linked to the development of aggressive prostate cancer, says Dr. Song.
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Too much alcohol can be a problem, too: When your body breaks alcohol down, it creates a compound that can damage your DNA, potentially sparking cancer-causing mutations, he says.
As for sedentary behavior and extra pounds?
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Both have been known to promote inflammation, which encourages cells—including cancerous ones—to divide and grow rapidly, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Of course, the findings that these four habits are healthy aren’t exactly revolutionary: Prior research has already established they reduce your risk of conditions like heart disease and diabetes, too.
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But the extent to which they can cut your chances of dying from prostate cancer is worth noting, and should encourage you to start checking those measures off your list if you haven’t already.