Many people think that getting cancer is just down to genes, fate or ill luck. Through scientific research, however, we know that our risk depends on a combination of our genes, our environment, and our lifestyle, which we can actually control.
Cancer is caused by harm to our DNA, the chemical instructions that notify our cells on what to do. The things in our environment, such as UV rays, or our lifestyle, like the chemicals in tobacco, can be harmful to our DNA. This harm can build up eventually. If a cell builds up too much harm to its DNA, it will begin to develop and multiply out of control – this is how the disease finds its way into our body.
Is Cancer Preventable?
In the UK, more than 1 in 2 people will get cancer at a stage in their lives. Every year, more than 350,000 people are diagnosed with it. However, experts estimate that more than 4 in 10 cancer cases are preventable, mostly through certain lifestyle changes.
Surveys have revealed that people are not essentially aware that bad lifestyle habits are linked to cancer. For instance, studies have shown that 15 in 20 people do not know that obesity leads to cancer, and 18 in 20 people do not know about the link between alcohol and cancer.
So, if you are concerned about preventing cancer for yourself and your loved ones, take comfort in the fact that a number of simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference. Try these cancer prevention tips:
1. Don’t Use Tobacco
Using any type of tobacco puts you at risk. Smoking causes different forms of cancer, which include cancer of the lungs, mouth, bladder, throat, larynx, pancreas, cervix and kidney. Do you know that when you chew tobacco, you are at risk of oral cavity and pancreatic cancer? Even if you do not use tobacco, being exposed to secondhand smoke may increase your risk of lung cancer.
Staying away from tobacco or stopping it totally, is one of the most significant health decisions you can make. It’s also a vital part of cancer prevention. If you need help stopping tobacco use, ask your doctor or healthcare provider about products for stopping smoking such as the use of patches and other methods for quitting.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight and Be Physically Active
Maintaining a healthy weight may help reduce the risk of breast, prostate, lung, colon, and kidney cancer.
Physical activity helps too. Besides helping you control your weight, physical activity can lower the risk of breast and colon cancer.
Adults who partake in any amount of physical activity achieve a number of health benefits. But for extensive health benefits, aim to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic exercise or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic exercise. You can also perform a combination of moderate and vigorous exercise. As an all-purpose goal, incorporate a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise in your daily routine, and if you can do more, awesome!
3. Eat Food Mostly of Plant Origin.
Eat a minimum of five servings of fruits and vegetables daily and eat relatively unprocessed whole grains and/or legumes (beans) along with each meal. All these foods have substantial amounts of dietary fiber and different micronutrients and are low or moderately low in calorie density.
One simple way to incorporate many veggies into your day is to begin every lunch and dinner with a big filling salad.
At salad bars, start with a large bowl and pile on the greens. Also, add many colorful veggies and enough lean protein, like beans, tofu, white meat chicken, or seafood. Beans are loaded with fiber, so they will fill you up for a long time.
4. Limit alcoholic intake
Even though the World Cancer Research Fund/ACIR panel took into account the proof that little amounts of alcoholic drinks may protect against coronary heart disease, the data shows that “even little amounts of alcoholic drinks should be avoided.”
Alcoholic drinks are associated with mouth, larynx, colorectal and liver cancer.
If you drink alcohol, the report encourages you to limit consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
These reserved levels of consumption are linked to reductions in heart disease risk only among middle-aged and older individuals since heart disease is a much larger issue in these groups.
From a cardiologist’s perspective, the drinking age should be around 40, since no one younger gains from alcohol. They only drive vehicles into ditches, or worse. Nearly 100,000 Americans die from alcohol-associated issues and trauma such as car accidents each year due to overconsumption of alcohol.
Lifestyle changes will not only help prevent cancer, it would also prevent other diseases as well. People who live a healthy lifestyle are healthier than those who do not.