tomertu/ShutterstockIt’s a new year, which means one thing: A new motivation to finally commit to healthy habits. Resolutions (especially these 15 resolutions that are impossible to stick with) are notoriously hard to keep—about 80 percent of people give up by Valentine’s Day. If your motivation is running low, there’s a new factor that could keep you on the wagon. Following through on certain healthy resolutions could cut your cancer risk by 8 percent or more.
U.K. researchers tracked the lifestyles of 343,150 adults for five years. Volunteers reported whether they limited alcohol intake, avoided smoking, exercised, ate a good diet, and maintained a healthy BMI. By the end of the follow-up period, almost a quarter of the participants were diagnosed with cancer.
Looking at the relationship between those five healthy lifestyle choices and cancer diagnosis, the researchers found some promising results. Committing to all five lowered risk by a third, and the findings indicated a healthy lifestyle could also cut down the chance of dying from cancer. (Check out these other 13 New Year’s resolutions you’ll actually want to keep.)
If a total health makeover sounds unrealistic, don’t fret. Each healthy habit on its own was associated with an 8 percent lower risk of cancer. So if you already feel in over your head trying to get to the gym without taking on your junk food addiction, focusing on one could have major health benefits. (Try these New Year’s resolutions nutritionists are making for inspiration.) Lead researcher Peter Elwood, epidemiologist professor at Cardiff University says taking on just one new healthy habit is a doable and effective way to cut cancer risk. “It costs nothing, has no undesirable side effects … and is better than any pill,” he says in a statement.
Having trouble sticking with your goals? Try this science-backed secret to keeping your New Year’s resolutions.