No one likes to think about it, let alone discuss the topic, but cancer is a real possibility. It took 600,000 plus lives in the US in 2020. Cancer is the second most prevailing cause of death, exceeded only by heart disease. The most common forms are breast, colorectal, lung, prostate, and skin cancer.
While we can’t change some risk factors like age, gender, and family history, there are many lifestyle choices we make that can significantly lower our risk of cancer.
But there’s a silver lining. Cancer is treatable. About 16.9 million cancer warriors defeated the disease in 2019. The National Cancer Institute estimates that the number of cancer survivors will touch 22 million by 2030.
And, if you can defeat this life-threatening disease, you can prevent it in the first place. According to Harvard University’s School of Public Health researchers, up to 75% of cancer fatalities in the United States may be prevented.
The following tips can help you stay cancer-free:
1. Refuse to Work in Toxic Conditions:
Working in certain professions can up your risk of cancer. For example, jobs like coal mining, asbestos removal, and petroleum refining come with a high risk of exposure to cancer-causing agents. If you feel uncertain about your workplace’s safety, speak to your HR department or supervisor.
Plus, if you can choose a less dangerous job, take it. If not, be mindful of symptoms like rashes, dizziness, and headaches, which could be early signs of cancer.
You could be at the risk of developing mesothelioma if you’re exposed to asbestos. It’s a rare but aggressive cancer affecting the lung and abdomen tissue lining. If you’ve worked with asbestos recently or been exposed to it, get assistance via regular check-ups and speak to a lawyer to discuss legal options if compensation is on the cards.
2. Remove Tobacco from Your Life:
Tobacco is by far the most preventable cause of cancer. Cigarette smoking has been linked to various types of cancer – including cancers of the lung, throat, mouth, pancreas, bladder, and kidney. According to the American Cancer Society, cigarettes are responsible for about one in five deaths annually in the US.
If you smoke, your best bet is to quit as soon as possible. ACS reports that quitting smoking can significantly reduce cancer risk and other tobacco-related diseases. Smokers who quit before age 50 lessen their chances of dying from smoking-related illnesses by half compared with those who continue to smoke.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet:
You are what you eat, so fill your plate with healthy and cancer-preventing foods. For example, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains can lower cancer risk. On the other hand, processed meats, sugary drinks, and refined carbs can increase your chances.
Consume a rainbow of fruits and vegetables daily to ensure you get all the required nutrients. Target at least five servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit. And when it comes to whole grains, try to make at least half your grains whole. You must also include essential multivitamins like folic acid and Vitamin D in your diet.
4. Exercise Regularly:
Working up a sweat isn’t just good for your heart health – it may also help lower your cancer risk. According to the ACS, staying active and exercising for at least 30 minutes on most days can reduce your cancer development risk by up to 50%.
So, get moving! No, don’t run a marathon! Just get your heart rate up for at least 30 minutes daily. Walking, biking, swimming, and even yard work all count. In addition, maintaining weight by exercising reduces a woman’s chances of developing breast cancer.
5. Limit Your Alcohol Intake:
Alcohol consumption is a controversial topic when it comes to cancer prevention. While some studies suggest that a glass of red wine a day can reduce your risk of developing cancer (thanks to the grape skin’s antioxidants), other research indicates that any alcohol increases your cancer risk.
So, what’s the verdict? The ACS recommends limiting your alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day for women and two for men. If you don’t drink alcohol, there’s no need to start. If you’re struggling with cutting down, consider speaking to your doctor or a counselor. There are various programs and resources available to help you quit drinking.
6. Wear Sunscreen:
Most of us know sunscreen for its ability to prevent sunburns. But were you aware of its ability to reduce your risk of skin cancer? The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) rays that can damage your skin cells and lead to cancer. The American Academy of Dermatology reports skin cancer as the most common type amongst Americans. Numerically, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.
When buying a sunscreen, look for one with an SPF of 30 or higher and broad-spectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays. Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed skin. Don’t forget to reapply more often if you’re swimming or sweating.
Once considered a death sentence, cancer is now a manageable disease for many people. Today, it’s just a matter of essential lifestyle changes. So, take charge of your health and lower your risk of developing cancer by following these tips.
You must also regularly get screened for cancer. The earlier it is detected, the easier it becomes to treat. So, book that appointment with your doctor and get screened for cancer today!