This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Sometimes studies reveal unexpected links between something you do and your risk of developing cancer.
Here are three things that cut cancer risk, at least two of which you probably would never associate with a health benefit.
Singing in a Choir
Singing produces physiological effects that enable the body to fight cancer better. Scientists knew the activity improves mood, but recently they discovered it also has a profound impact on the immune system. In the research at the Imperial College London, University College London and the Royal College of Music, the saliva of choir members was tested before and after one hour of singing to see what changes occurred.
The results showed singing reduced the stress hormone cortisol and elevated cytokines, immune proteins that improve the body’s ability to battle cancer and other serious illnesses. In addition, it lowered levels of inflammation, a malady that harms the immune system. The people who were experiencing the most depression were the ones who received the greatest mood improvement. These findings suggest singing lowers the likelihood that tumors will return in patients undergoing treatment for cancer. The research was published in the journal ECancer Medical Science.
“I’ve seen peoples’ lives transformed through singing in our choirs so knowing that singing also makes a biological difference will hopefully help us to reach more people with the message that singing is great for you — mind, body and soul,” said coauthor Rosie Dow, head of the Sing with Us project at Tenovus Cancer Care.
Coffee drinkers will cheer as they learn one more benefit that comes from drinking their favorite beverage. A study published in the journal Cancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found drinking coffee may lower the risk of colorectal cancer. The participants were 5,100 adults who had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 4,000 healthy adults. Data was gathered on their consumption of boiled, filtered, instant and decaffeinated coffee, along with their family history of cancer and other lifestyle factors.
Analysis showed even the modest consumption of one to two cups of coffee per day was linked to a 26 percent decrease in colorectal cancer risk. When the participants drank more than 2.5 cups per day, the cancer risk reduced by up to 50 percent. According to senior author Stephen Gruber, the team was surprised that decaffeinated coffee proved as beneficial as the caffeinated variety, a discovery that shows the beverage’s protective properties aren’t due to caffeine alone.
Avoiding That Midnight Snack
Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology found that the nightly fasting hours between supper and breakfast are important in cancer prevention. After following more than 2,400 breast cancer survivors, it became clear that eating supper or snacking later in the evening posed a threat to their recovery. A short overnight fast of less than 13 hours was linked to a 36 percent greater risk of cancer recurrence and a 21 percent greater risk of death from the condition. An association was also seen between shorter overnight fasts and fewer hours of sleep, as well as higher amounts of HbA1C, a blood sugar level marker. These results are noteworthy because poor sleep and elevated HbA1C are connected with increased breast cancer likelihood.
Cutting Cancer Risk
Singing in a choir might not be an option for everyone, but you can sing in the shower or when going about daily activities like preparing dinner. The coffee study gives you another reason to indulge your penchant for the beverage, and if you are sensitive to caffeine, just switch to decaf. Finally, eat your evening meal as early as possible, so you can have an extended nightly fast as research indicates this habit has multiple health advantages.