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Fighting cancer takes a village

New guidelines urge community efforts, physical activity

Fighting cancer takes a village

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- Cancer prevention should be a community effort, according to new guidelines for nutrition and physical activity that the American Cancer Society issued Wednesday.

The new guidelines put a stronger emphasis on physical activity, urging at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five or more days of the week, and emphasize a nutritional diet and "a healthful weight."

For the first time, the guidelines include recommendations for children, urging at least an hour of physical activity at least five days a week.

Communities, schools and workplaces should take steps "to be sure healthy foods are available and to make sure people have opportunities to be physically active," said Colleen Doyle, the cancer society's director of nutrition and physical activity.

"We're encouraging workplaces to provide access to good foods, healthy foods," Doyle said. "And communities can provide sidewalks and ensure safety so that people are encouraged to walk."

Easy access to amenities such as grocery stores, drugstores and even movie theaters encourage walking, she said, making urban planning a cancer prevention measure.

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"It's going to take people connecting the dots between sidewalks and health, between green space and health," Doyle said. "The public health community is definitely moving in that direction, empowering people in local communities to make those changes.

"One of the major barriers people tell you about not being physically active are safety issues," she continued. "That's a great opportunity for communities to band together, to step up and do something about traffic problems, to initiate a neighborhood watch. It's a perfect place for community groups and neighborhood associations to play a large role."

Doyle said that a third of the nation's 500,000 yearly cancer deaths are related to diet and physical activity and that another third are tobacco-related.

"That means that two-thirds of all cancer deaths can be prevented by not smoking, eating a healthy diet and being physically active," she said.

The American Cancer Society reviews its guidelines every five years. The new guidelines, similar to earlier versions, urge a primarily plant-based diet, weight loss for overweight or obese people and a limited consumption of alcohol for those who drink.


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