A new report reveals that engaging in physical activity, eating healthfully and drinking coffee can all reduce risks of womb cancer, a disease that affects nearly 50,000 women in the US each year, according to the American Cancer Society.
Authors of the report, which was published by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and World Cancer Research Fund International, say that worldwide, endometrial cancer - cancer of the womb lining - is the sixth most common cancer in women.
However, in the US, regular physical activity (30 minutes a day) and keeping a healthy weight (BMI between 18.5 and 25) can potentially prevent nearly 60% of endometrial cancer cases, the report shows.
Though womb cancer is mostly diagnosed in women over 60, there is currently no reliable screening system to detect it in the general population.
Symptoms of the disease include abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge, as well as pain in the lower abdomen during sex.
Keeping a lean body helps reduce risks, but the researchers found that the risks were even lower for women who have never used hormone therapy, according to Elisa V. Bandera, associate professor from Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and panel member for the Continuous Update Project (CUP).
Bandera also says that evidence from cohort studies suggests that length of sitting time may increases risks, but she notes that more evidence is needed in order to make a firm conclusion.
"While additional studies are needed, it is a safe bet that maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in regular physical activity will reduce endometrial cancer risk, as well as having many other health benefits."
Coffee and other dietary choices decrease risk
The report showed that every cup of coffee consumed is linked with a 7% reduction in womb cancer risk. But researchers say more studies are needed.
In addition to staying fit, the research showed that drinking coffee can also reduce womb cancer risks.
Elisa V. Bandera says that both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee is associated with "an estimated 7% reduction in risk for every cup of coffee consumed, based on eight studies."
She says that while the findings are interesting, drinking excessive coffee can also have adverse side effects. For example, Medical News Today recently reported that four cups of coffee a day is linked to death risks.
Bandera notes that "in terms of food choices, eating a diet high in vegetables and low in fat and refined sugars is going to, at a minimum, help with weight control, while probably also protecting against cancer in other ways."
The report concludes:
"The evidence that body fatness (which the Panel interprets to be reflected by body mass index (BMI), measures of abdominal girth and adult weight gain) is a cause of endometrial cancer is convincing. Glycaemic load is probably a cause of endometrial cancer, and physical activity and coffee both probably protect against this cancer."