Risk factors for cancer seem to be everywhere these days. Every time you turn around there is a new cancer warning. But there are some definite lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of cancer. Here is our list of top 12 ways to reduce your risk of cancer.
Don’t smoke or use tobacco
This one has warning labels all over it. Nobody doubts that cigarette smoking can lead to cancer of the lungs, lips, throat, voice box, bladder, and kidneys. Smokers may think that the damage is already done so why quit now, but quitting really reduces your risks down to almost that of nonsmokers. Chewing tobacco is associated with cancer of the mouth, gums, throat, esophagus, stomach, and other cancers, so try to eliminate all forms of tobacco.
Drink alcohol moderately
Alcohol can dissolve carcinogens and help them get into cells. If you drink, try not to indulge in more than one drink per day, and the alcohol you choose makes a difference too. If you are going to have a drink, choosing a glass of red wine over another drink is better for your health and could actually be helpful in fighting cancer due to the resveratrol in the wine. Keep in mind that more is definitely not better.
Watch sun exposure
While it is important to watch that you do not burn, getting enough sun is important for the natural generation of vitamin D, which has been shown in multiple studies to be preventive of prostate and other cancers. In fact, rates of prostate cancer are shown to be much higher in countries above the Northern latitude where sun exposure is less. However, try to avoid being in the sun during the peak hours of 10 AM and 3 PM. Have your skin checked yearly by a dermatologist, especially if you have a lot of moles. Don’t forget to get your scalp checked too.
Check your home for radon
Damage from radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Radon is a radioactive gas that is released from the soil, groundwater, or some building materials. You cannot see, smell, or taste it. It comes from the soil under your home and seeps into your living spaces. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as many as one in five homes has elevated radon levels. You can buy radon detection kits at a hardware store and if you do detect radon, you can take affordable measure to fix the problem.
Take measures to prevent HPV
The human papilloma virus causes most of the cancers of the anus, vagina, cervix, penis, and other genital cancers. There is a growing incidence of throat cancer from HPV transmitted though oral sex. HPV is transmitted sexually and may not cause symptoms right away. The virus can lead to cancer many years after transmission. Practice safe sex, and if you are in a relationship (or had a past relationship) with someone who has had cervical cancer or other cancers of the genitals, be aware of the symptoms of throat cancer or genital cancers so that you can get treated early if you started to develop any problems.
Yes, this one is easier said than done. Nobody claims to get too much sleep. Strive to get seven to eight hours per night. People who sleep less than six hours of sleep per night have a 50% higher chance of getting certain kinds of cancer. Here are some tips to help you sleep better.
Review your family medical history
If you have family members who have had cancer, be sure to let your doctor know. Certain cancers such as prostate cancer can run in families. Your family history will alert your doctor to need for more screenings to run tests like the PSA test sooner if he or she thinks you are at higher risk.
Follow an anticancer diet
A diet such as The Prostate Health Diet, which focuses on reducing animal fats, eating monounsaturated vegetable fats, and getting plenty of fiber through fruits and vegetable consumption, will help nourish your body by giving it fuel to prevent and fight cancer. The diet is rich in plant proteins and antioxidants and low in food additives and chemicals that are known to cause cancer.
Limit red meat consumption
Red meat has been tied to colorectal cancer, especially processed, or cured meats such as hot dogs, bacon, ham, and lunch meats. Cooking meat on a high flame produces carcinogens, so avoid well done or blackened meat.
Test for Helicobacter pylori
This bacterium is found in the stomach and the upper part of the intestine. It is a major cause of gastric cancer. Talk to your doctor to see if you should be tested for the bacteria so that you can start preventing your chances of getting cancer.
There is strong evidence that exercise helps reduce your risk of prostate cancer and other cancers such as colon cancer and lung cancer. Exercise helps you to control weight and reduce stress, which are all important for your overall health. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate activity at least three days a week. Walkiing (while wearing sunscreen, of course), swimming, and aerobics classes are some options. The important thing is to find something you enjoy and build it into your schedule.
Keep your weight down
Obesity puts you at high risk for many diseases and conditions, including several kinds of cancer. The good news is that if you follow several other items on this list, such as exercise, eating a healthy diet, and reducing red meat consumption, you should help your waistline.
Other benefits you can get when you reduce your risk of cancer
While following the ways to prevent cancer, you will also be preventing other health problems from forming. Many of the items on this list will help protect you from diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease. When you eat well, exercise, and are well rested your physical health and mental health will both benefit.