It’s so important to resist blaming yourself if you get cancer: Our message is always, “Begin now. Don’t look back. We have no idea what caused your cancer . . . But we do know that there are things you can do differently that will make a radical difference in how you feel.”

Meg Cadoux Hirshberg, CancerChoices advisor and founder of Anticancer Lifestyle Program

A letter from Laura

Creating healthy habits beyond the 7 Healing Practices includes keeping your weight at a healthy level, staying away from tobacco smoke, limiting alcohol intake, and staying hydrated.

You may be nodding your head right now saying “I know, I know—being overweight, smoking, and too much alcohol are not good for me and changing this could save my life and not changing this may shorten my life and make me feel bad in the meantime. But . . . “

We recognize that breaking an unhealthy habit and replacing it with a healthy one is a big deal. Most people need guidance, information, and support to pull off such big changes.

We point you to some of the wealth of resources to inform you about these additional anticancer strategies and guide you in creating healthy habits that stick. You will also find ideas in each of the 7 Healing Practice handbooks, as well as in some of the complementary therapies reviews, such as using acupuncture to help with smoking or managing stress in new ways so you don’t eat, smoke, or drink to deal with stress. The first step is to commit to your health.

And here’s to your health!

Laura Pole

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Habits to promote wellness and limit cancer

You can implement four healthy habits to promote your health and wellness. They may also change your body’s environment so cancer is less able to grow and spread:

  1. Manage your weight
  2. Don’t smoke
  3. Limit alcohol
  4. Hydrate

We’re creating handbooks on each of these topics.

Making these lifestyle choices can benefit your health and improve symptoms such as pain, fatigue, or depression.1Miller M, Schettler T, Tencza B, Valenti M. A Story of Health. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Collaborative on Health and the Environment, Science and Environmental Health Network, Western States PESHU. p. 107.

Research has linked these habits to cancer and your body terrainthe internal conditions of your body, including nutritional status, fitness, blood sugar balance, hormone balance, inflammation and more.

Known links between healthy habits and cancer:

Click or tap the chart to view.

What do experts recommend?

Among the recommendations to prevent cancer:

  • Be a healthy weight
  • Limit alcohol consumption
  • Stop smoking and avoid other exposure to tobacco

Many of these actions are specifically included in current recommendations from medical societies and other experts. We’ll include specific recommendations in the handbooks for each of the four healthy habits.

Keep reading about choices in self care


Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Last update: May 22, 2022

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.