How to live longer: The best time of day to exercise to reduce your cancer risk

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Adults are recommended to do some type of physical activity every day. The NHS advises doing strengthening activities that work all the major muscles on at least two days a week, as well as at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity.

The benefits of regular exercise include weight control, a reduced risk of heart disease and stable blood sugar levels.

Now, a new study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, has hinted people who exercise in the morning, between 8am and 10am, may be less likely to develop cancer than those who exercise later in the day.

Researchers behind the study analysed data from 2,795 participants. The participants were a subset of the Spanish multi case-control study which set out to understand factors causing common cancers in Spain and how to prevent them.

Between the years of 2008 and 2013, researchers interviewed the participants to find out their lifetime recreational and household physical activity.

An average of three years later, the researchers assessed the timing when people exercised.

Particular attention was paid to 781 women who had breast cancer and responded to the questionnaire about their physical activity, and 504 men who had prostate cancer and provided data about the time they exercised.

The researchers found physical activity between 8am and 10am had the strongest potential beneficial effect at reducing breast and prostate cancer.

The researchers suggest that the benefits of early exercise for breast cancer risk may be linked to oestrogen.

High oestrogen levels have associations with an increased risk of breast cancer, and exercise can lower oestrogen levels.

Also, oestrogen production is most active at around 7am.

Melatonin may also be a factor, as researchers have shown melatonin may protect against cancer risk.

Also, exercise later in the day or at night can delay melatonin production.

The researchers did note, the study has limitations, and they couldn’t detect the small effect the timing of exercise might have with certainty.

This finding of this study is thought to be important because of the high numbers who develop cancer and the significant number who die of the disease.

For example, in the USA, scientists estimate by the end of 2020, 1,806,590 people will receive a diagnosis of cancer – 606,520 will die from the disease.

Considering the large number of people who develop cancer, a change as small as changing the time a person exercises could have a significant contribution to reducing the impact of cancer across whole populations.

There’s also evidence a person’s circadian rhythm may have links to a person’s chance of developing cancer.

Circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the level of evidence linking night shift work that disrupts a person’s circadian rhythm as “probably” carcinogenic to humans.

Research has also shown exercise has a relationship with a person’s circadian rhythm.

A study published in 2019 found exercising during the day may help improve a person’s circadian rhythm.

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How to live longer: The tea to drink to protect against heart disease and type 2 diabetes

Long life expectancy could be achieved through drinking rosehip tea. Rosehip tea is a herbal tea made from the fruits of the rose plant. A number of health benefits have been linked to drinking rosehip tea, one being to protect against heart disease.

Rosehips contain a high concentration of antioxidants, such as vitamin C.

Studies have shown how vitamin C can reduce heart disease risk.

A review of 13 studies found supplementing with at least 500mg of vitamin C per day could achieve a significant decrease in LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and blood triglycerides – two risk factors for heart disease.

Rosehips are also high in flavonoids. These have been shown to reduce blood pressure in people with high readings and to improve blood flow to the heart. 

Some research has also shown how rosehips may protect against type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes causes a person’s blood sugar levels to become too high, and can lead to serious health complications if left untreated.

A study carried out on mice on a high-fat diet found supplementing with rosehip power over a 10 to 20 week period significantly decreased blood sugar levels, fasting insulin levels and fat cell growth in the liver – three risk factors for type 2 diabetes.

Rosehip tea may also aid weight loss.

Obesity can lead to a number of serious and potentially life-threatening conditions, including type 2 diabetes, coronavirus heart disease and some types of cancer.

But studies have shown rosehips from the rosa canina plant are high in an antioxidant called tiliroside, which may have fat-burning properties.

An eight-week study carried out on mice prone to obesity found those fed a high-fat diet containing 1 percent rosehip extract gained significantly less body weight and stomach fat than those that didn’t receive the supplement. 

Human studies have shown similar results.

A 12-week study involving 32 adults with excess weight showed taking 100mg of reship extract daily significantly decreased body weight and stomach fat, compared with the placebo group. 

While rosehip’s potential to help the inside of the body live longer, it’s also been shown to help the outside.

Rosehip is believed to help fight skin ageing, and is used as an ingredient in an increasing number of beauty products.

Collagen is responsible for providing elasticity to skin.

Vitamin C has been shown to promote collagen synthesis and protect skin cells against sun damage – two things that can help keep skin looking tighter and more youthful. 

Rosehip tea also contains the carotenoid astaxanthin, which has been shown to have anti-ageing effects by helping prevent the breakdown of collagen. 

Rosehip tea also contains vitamin A and lycopene which are known to protect skin cells against sun damage. 

An eight-week study involving 34 people found those who consumed 3g of reship powder per day experienced fewer crow’s feet wrinkles. 

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How to live longer: Why drinking this tea could boost your life expectancy

Lemongrass, also called citronella, is a tall plant that can be used as a tea. Steeped in hot water, it leaves a lemony aroma and a refreshing citrus flavour in the mouth. Here’s how it could boost your life expectancy.

Cited in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, lemongrass contains several antioxidants.

Antioxidants can help scavenge free radicals in your body that can cause disease.

According to the Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology at ACPM Dental College, in India, lemongrass showed antimicrobial properties.

In addition, researchers from the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre identified two compounds in lemongrass that are thought to be responsible for its anti-inflammatory benefits: citral and geranial.

The same organisation identified lemongrass to contain anticancer properties too.

They stated: “Lab studies showed that lemongrass can lower blood pressure, and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anticancer properties.”

Supporting the claim that lemongrass reduces blood pressure are the researchers from the University of Swabi, Pakistan.

For their experiment, they recruited 72 male volunteers who were either given lemongrass or green tea to drink.

Those who drank the lemongrass tea showed a decline in systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Systolic blood pressure measures the amount of force the blood hits the artery walls while the heart is beating.

The diastolic blood pressure measures the amount of force the blood hits the artery walls in between heart beats.

Combining these health benefits from drinking lemongrass tea would help to increase somebody’s life expectancy.

This makes sense, as high blood pressure puts a person at increased risk of a heart attack.

Additionally, cancer cells can be deadly and excess inflammation is linked to disease.

In order to reap the benefits of lemongrass, it’s possible to drink it as a tea.

How to make lemongrass tea

Pour one cup of boiling water over one to three teaspoons of fresh or dried lemongrass.

Steep for at least five minutes, then strain the tea. It can either be enjoyed hot or iced.

For iced lemongrass tea, simply add a few ice cubes to the cup. Most natural food stores sell loose lemongrass tea or lemongrass tea bags.

Side effects

Although lemongrass tea is considered safe, some people may be allergic to it.

An allergic reaction would result in a rash, itching, difficulty breathing or a rapid heart rate.

Should you experience an adverse reaction (and it’s very rare), do call the emergency services.

As with any beverage, drinking a healthy tea can only do so much for a person’s health.

Of course there is research outlining the benefits of sipping on lemongrass tea, but it’ll need to be paired with other healthy life decisions.

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