THURSDAY, Jan. 4, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- People who stick to their New Year's resolutions to be healthier this year might not just feel better but also reduce their risk for cancer, a new study suggests.
In fact, their chances of developing cancer could drop by 33 percent, the researchers said.
"The take-home message is that healthy behaviors can have a truly tangible benefit," said study author Peter Elwood, with Cardiff University in the U.K.
"A healthy lifestyle has many benefits additional to cancer reduction," he said in a news release from the journal ecancermedicalscience. "It costs nothing, has no undesirable side effects -- and is better than any pill."
The researchers set out to quantify the effects of healthy behaviors, analyzing data on more than 500,000 people.
They found that not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, following a healthy diet and limiting alcohol intake could significantly reduce the long-term risk for cancer. But the study could not prove that these behaviors caused a drop in cancer risk.
"In our study, each additional healthy behavior was associated with a reduction of about 8 percent in cancer, independent of the effects of the other behaviors," Elwood said.
Besides cutting the risk for cancer by about a third, the researchers said that these healthy lifestyle habits also could lead to an even greater reduction in the risk for cancer-related death.
They said this provides solid evidence that should help motivate people to follow through on their New Year's resolve to make healthy lifestyle changes.
The findings were published Jan. 4 in ecancermedicalscience.
The American Cancer Society has more on how to reduce cancer risk.