It’s about this time every year when gym membership sign ups are at their yearly high, but many give up on their goals before January is out. New research published in ecancermedicalscience may be just the data to help us all stick with it. Those hard-won healthy resolutions may lead to a reduction of about one-third of your cancer risk.

Researchers led by Professor Peter Elwood of Cardiff University, UK sorted through preliminary data from the UK Biobank (a prospective study of half a million subjects) to identify healthy behaviours and compare them to the risk of cancer over several years. Healthy behaviours studied included not smoking, a low BMI, regular exercise, eating a healthy diet and limiting alcohol intake.

It’s not surprising that the study found the collection of healthy habits contributed to a total reduction of about one-third of cancer risk and possibly even more reduction in cancer mortality. Few would doubt those results, but the real challenge is translating our vague ideas about good lifestyle choices into useful evidence.

The next step for researchers is to convert this evidence into useful and more importantly, realistic, recommendations. For now, if you need some inspiration to keep working towards your health goals, take some advice from Professor Elwood, “A healthy lifestyle has many benefits additional to cancer reduction - it costs nothing, has no undesirable side effects . . . And it’s better than any pill!”

h/t EurekAlert