For most of us, just the mention of the word “cancer” renders a certain level of fear. A cancer diagnosis can shatter lives, and it remains one of the trickiest diseases to treat.
Taking steps to prevent cancer is worthwhile for anyone, as it can strike any demographic at any age, unfortunately. What can you do to reduce your cancer risk daily? Making certain lifestyle changes can not only add years to your life but also improve the quality of those years. Here’s what to do and what to avoid.
1. Kick The Butts
This one should come as no surprise, but smoking increases your risk of oral and lung cancers significantly. And those aren’t the only cancer risks associated with smoking. Smoking can cause cancer just about anywhere in the body, including the blood, bladder and colon.
Quitting can prove difficult, but after a decade, your lung capacity will return almost as if you had never smoked at all. You can access free quit smoking resources at the federal website, and many states have programs that can help you quit as well.
2. Drink In Moderation
Enjoy a cold one at the end of the day? While excessive alcohol consumption can lead to increased risks of liver cancer, moderate consumption does not have as much of an effect on overall cancer risks. As long as you stick to no more than one or two drinks per day, you decrease your chances of developing the disease.
3. Eat Fewer Red And Processed Meats
If you think you’re eating more healthily by stopping at Subway for lunch instead of grabbing a burger, think again. Excessive consumption of red meat and processed lunch meats increases your cancer risk.
Your risk of developing bowel cancer nearly doubles with every 50 grams of red meat eaten daily. Processed and smoked meats prove no better. The nitrate preservatives used in curing meats like salami are carcinogenic, and smoking changes the chemical composition of the meat, making even healthier cuts like turkey a higher risk.
4. Strive To Eat A Rainbow
What are phytochemicals? They’re chemical nutrients found in plants. Most benefit human health significantly, though some, like those found in water hemlock, can prove fatal. Phytonutrients are responsible for the medicinal properties of herbs and healing plants, and they can cut your cancer risk.
Different plant colors represent different phytonutrient content. For example, red fruits and veggies like radishes and tomatoes contain high levels of vitamins C and K. Try mixing up a salad for lunch containing purple cabbage, peppers in a variety of colors and ample greens for a super nutrient punch.
5. Take Care Of Your Teeth
Your oral health influences your cancer risk—yes, really! Researchers discovered a 24% increase in the relative risk of cancer development among participants who had severe periodontitis (gum disease). The best way to prevent periodontal disease? Brush your teeth twice daily, taking care to get along the gum line, floss daily, and see your dentist twice a year for regular cleanings.
Periodontal disease is more prevalent among smokers. Since this habit also increases cancer risk, ask your dentist about quitting resources. They may know some tricks to help you quit.
6. Visit Your PCP
If you have coverage under the Affordable Care Act, you can benefit from free cancer screenings on a routine basis. The act covers screenings for mammograms every two years after age 35, a free pap smear for cervical cancer every three to five years, and a once-per-year lung screening via CAT scan for smokers over age 55.
No coverage? Planned Parenthood offers pap smears on a sliding fee scale for women with financial hardship. Some community health centers offer such screenings on a sliding fee scale as well.
7. Get Moving Regularly
Experts recommend at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. The good news? You don’t have to carve out a half hour block of time every day to squeeze in fitness. You can exercise in as little as 10-minute increments and still reap the benefits.
Suffer an autoimmune condition like rheumatoid arthritis, which makes moving on land difficult? Try swimming or aqua aerobics to let the buoyancy of the water help you move freely. Enjoy socializing while you work out? Consider joining a fitness studio offering a variety of daily class formats to try.
An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth a Pound Of Cure
When it comes to cancer, staving it off beats battling it. By taking some simple, you can help reduce your risk of falling ill to cancer and many other diseases as well.