Here’s another reason to consider some healthy changes to your diet. A recent study found that improvements not only help your heart, but also lower your risk for cancer.

The study, an analysis of the long-term French GAZEL Cohort Study, followed people in midlife for nearly 25 years. It was published in JACC: CardioOncology.

In the study, researchers led by Dr. Thomas van Sloten of the University of Paris, used data from 13,933 participants in the GAZEL study who were free of cancer and cardiovascular disease to evaluate the association between change in the American Heart Association Life’s Simple 7 cardiovascular (CV) health score over seven years and cancer and CV events.

They looked at breast, lung, prostate, colon and a category of other cancers.

The AHA’s Life Simple 7 include these seven habits: stop smoking, eat better, get active, lose weight, manage blood pressure, control cholesterol and reduce blood sugar.

The AHA Life’s Simple 7 CV health score for participants ranged between zero and 14 points and included poor, intermediate and ideal levels of smoking, physical activity, obesity, diet, blood pressure, diabetes status and lipids.

Not many of us achieve great scores on the Simple 7.

A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology finds that fewer than 7% of all American adults have optimal health across five major areas related to heart and metabolic health: weight, blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and cardiovascular disease status.

In the French study, in 1989-1990, every 1-point increase in the AHA Life’s Simple 7 CV health score was associated with a 9% reduced risk for any cancer and a 20% risk for cardiac events.

Over seven years, every 1-point increase in the health score was associated with a 5% reduced risk for any cancer and a 7% reduced risk for cardiac events.

Even after omitting the smoking metric, researchers saw similar improvements.

In an earlier study published in the journal Circulation in January 2022, researchers found that participants of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study lowered their cardiovascular risk by adhering to the AHA’s Life Simple 7 guidelines, no matter their genetic susceptibility.

The study looked at 8,372 white participants and 2,314 black participants, 45 years of age and older and free of cardiovascular events at baseline.

They found the overall remaining lifetime risk was 27%, ranging from 16.6% in individuals with an ideal Life Simple 7 score to 43.1% for individuals with a poor Life Simple 7 score.

Ideal adherence to Life Simple 7 recommendations was associated with lower lifetime risk of cardiovascular events for all individuals, especially in those with high genetic susceptibility.

The bottom line? Eating healthier and increasing our physical activity can make a huge difference in lowering our risk for a cardiovascular event and cancer.

It’s worth adding 30 minutes of walking a day and adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your diet.


Q: What causes high blood pressure?

A: Blood pressure may fluctuate throughout the day. It increases when we are active or feeling strong emotions like excitement or fear.

These changes are normal, as long as blood pressure is most often within a normal range.

Many factors can contribute to consistently high blood pressure, including genetics, some medical conditions, a high-sodium diet, low intake of fruits and vegetables, heavy alcohol use, tobacco use, stress and limited exercise.

Pan-Seared Pork Tenderloin Medallions

I’m a fan of pork tenderloin. It’s easy to cook, full of nutrients and low in fat.

Here’s a recipe from CookingLight for a weeknight dinner. You can serve them over a salad, or as a main entrée with Brussels sprouts or broccoli.


  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut crosswise into 12 medallion
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • Fresh thyme leaves (optional)


Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Arrange pork medallions in a single layer on a work surface and press each with the palm of your hand to flatten to an even thickness.

Combine salt, garlic powder and pepper; sprinkle evenly over pork. Add pork to skillet in a single layer; cook just until done, about 3 minutes per side.

Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with thyme leaves, if desired.


Serves 4

Per serving: 149 calories; 21 grams protein; 0 grams carbohydrates; 6.4 grams fat (1.2 grams saturated); 60 milligrams cholesterol; 0 grams fiber; 287 milligrams sodium

Charlyn Fargo Ware is a registered dietitian with SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois, and the current president of the Illinois Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Contact her at, and follow her on Twitter: @NutritionRd. The opinions expressed are her own.