Healthy habits may lower thyroid cancer risk, even in people with genetic risk

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Ever worried that your family’s history of health issues might catch up with you?

Well, a new study has some reassuring news: living a healthy lifestyle might help lower your risk of developing thyroid cancer, even if your genes say otherwise.

The Power of Lifestyle Choices

Researchers from Guangxi Medical University in Nanning, China, looked into how our habits and our genes interact to affect our chances of getting thyroid cancer.

They studied a large group of 264,956 people, aged between 40 and 69, from the U.K. Biobank database. After following these folks for an average of 11 years, they found 423 cases of thyroid cancer.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting: People with a high “polygenic risk score” (basically, a measure of how many risky genes you have) were more than twice as likely to get thyroid cancer.

On the other hand, people who didn’t live so healthy also had a higher risk of getting thyroid cancer. But when people with bad genes lived a healthy lifestyle, their risk went down by almost half!

Bad Genes Meet Good Habits

This research shows that bad genes and an unhealthy lifestyle are both individually linked to a higher risk of thyroid cancer.

And if you have both? Your risk is nearly five times higher! But here’s the silver lining: living a healthy lifestyle can really make a difference, even if you’ve got a high genetic risk.

According to the study, making better lifestyle choices could “soften the blow” of bad genes when it comes to the risk of getting thyroid cancer.

This is especially important for folks who know they’re at higher risk because of their family history or other genetic factors.

What This Means for You

So what should you do if you’re worried about thyroid cancer, especially if your family has a history of it? The researchers suggest that living a healthy lifestyle can be a powerful tool to lower your risk.

While they didn’t specify what “healthy lifestyle” means in this study, other research points to eating well, exercising regularly, not smoking, and limiting alcohol as good places to start.

In short, while you can’t change your genes, you do have control over how you live your life.

Making good choices can offer you some protection against thyroid cancer, even if your genes are working against you. And that’s a reason to feel empowered.

If you care about cancer, please read studies that a low-carb diet could increase overall cancer risk, and berry that can prevent cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about how drinking milk affects the risks of heart disease and cancer and results showing vitamin D supplements could strongly reduce cancer death.

The research findings can be found in JAMA Network Open.

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