Just 2 years ago, an estimated 1.5 million people in the US were diagnosed with cancer. There were over 650,000+ cancer deaths last year, which ranks cancer as the #2 leading cause of death (after heart disease). The number of people diagnosed with cancer continue to rise.
Cancer is caused by changes in genes that control the growth and death of cells, and mutations in certain genes can make cancer more likely to develop. The disease develops when cells continue to grow and divide instead of dying off, as they would normally do. As cancer cells multiply, they can damage nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body and develop into new tumors.
What you put into your body through drinking, eating, your activity level, and other lifestyle behaviors can all affect your risk for cancer. Find out more about these risks and how you can prevent cancer.
Here are the Top 10 Ways To Prevent Cancer:
1. Avoid tobacco products and second-hand smoke – Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the US for both men and women. Smoking is the most preventable cause of death in our society. Smoking causes damage to nearly every organ in the human body, is linked to 15+ different cancers, and causes 30% of all cancer deaths. Yet 1 in 5 Americans continue to smoke. If you do smoke, take the necessary steps to quit for your health and your loved ones.
2. Your diet can affect your risk for cancer. Eat right, be active, and maintaining a healthy weight are important ways to reduce your risk of cancer (not to mention heart disease and diabetes as well). Eat and exercise your way to better health. What you eat (and exclude from your diet), along with how active you are, can decrease your risk of developing cancer. The best ways to reduce your risk is through simple lifestyle changes like smart cooking, controlling your weight, and adding fruits and veggies to your diet.
3. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight – Obesity increases your chance of developing certain types of cancer: breast, kidney, esophagus, colon/rectum, and pancreas. Make smart food choices, control portion sizes, and fill up on fruits and vegetables to help manage your healthy weight.
4. Exercise – Regular exercise burns calories and can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight. Pick something that keeps you moving like walking, hiking, biking, swimming, dancing, and team sports. Gradually work up to 30-45 minutes of exercise/day for five+ days per week.
5. Eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains – they are naturally rich in dietary antioxidants like vitamin C & E, and carotenoids that help to protect your healthy genes from oxidative damage. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in fiber, which can speed the transit of food through the digestive system and may reduce the absorption of cancer-causing chemicals. So eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables may be the best way to ensure broad-spectrum protection. It is generally best to eat fresh rather than salted, cured, or pickled. The less processed the food, the healthier it will be for you.
6. Limit alcohol intake – Excess alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, breast, and colon/rectum. It is recommended that men should limit their intake to no more than 2 drinks per day, while women should limit their intake to no more than 1 drink daily.
7. Practice sun safety and check for changes in your skin – The sun’s UV rays cause the vast majority of skin cancers including melanoma, which can be life threatening. The sun’s peak time is between 10 am and 3 pm, so limit sunlight exposure during that time. If you are outside for long periods of time, use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15+. Know your skin and be aware of the location, size, and shape of moles and skin spots and report any changes. A sunburn is short lived, but damage to the deep layers of skin remain and can eventually cause cancer. It is important that sun-safe habits should begin in childhood and last a lifetime.
8. Reduce your exposure to potential carcinogens – Many substances in the environment have the potential to put you at higher risk for developing cancer. A carcinogen is a substance known to cause cancer in humans. There are a number of specific known and possible carcinogens such as infectious agents (bacteria, viruses, and parasites) and air pollution to name a few. When you are on the job, try and minimize your exposure to fumes, dust, solvents, and chemicals.
Try to reduce your everyday exposure to potentially toxic environmental chemicals in the home so…
– Dust and vacuum regularly to rid your home of toxins attracted to dust
– Open windows and use fresh air to freshen and minimize indoor pollution; don’t use air-fresheners that have many chemicals and perfume in them
– Filter your drinking water to remove pollutants using reverse osmosis or distilled water
– Switch to green cleaning non-toxic products that are safe but still powerful.
9. Know your family history – There are different kinds of genes that can be involved in cancer, and some can be passed from parents to children. 5-10% of cancers are due to a genetic predisposition to cancer. Family history is a risk factor for common types of cancer including breast, ovarian, colon, and prostate cancer.
For individuals with an average risk of cancer, the following cancer screening guidelines are recommended (but I personally recommend starting many of these earlier than suggested by many books and physicians, it’s better to have early detection if possible):
– Breast cancer: Women should begin yearly mammograms at age 40 and conduct regular breast self-exams starting in the 20’s.
– Colon and rectal cancer: Men and women should have one or more screening tests including a colonoscopy starting at age 50.
– Cervical cancer: All women should begin cervical cancer screening no later than 21 years of age.
– Prostate cancer: Men should have the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal examination annually beginning at age 50.
10. Choose your dietary supplements wisely – Dietary supplements play a key role in making up the nutrient shortfalls in your diet, and they provide a means of achieving optimal nutrient levels needed to achieve and maintain the best of health.
by T. Rewerts