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8 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Getting Cancer

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By Kaleigh Carrier
In a culture where conspicuous success is valued over almost anything else, focusing on health can sometimes feel like a chore. While our health should always be a primary concern of ours, when it challenges our ability to be more productive, we commonly sacrifice our health for productivity. When faced with the decision of working out at the gym or spending that extra hour at the office to finish our projects, U.S. culture doesn’t make it much of a choice. It’s the latter that will allow us to set ourselves up for a promotion and a raise. We can always workout tomorrow.

It is imperative, though, that we pay attention to our bodies and give them the proper care they deserve. We can only spend so many late nights at the office, sacrifice so many hours of sleep, before our bodies reach their limit. We need to take care of ourselves so that our bodies don’t take matters into their own hands, shutting down to force us to slow down. 

Cancer, in particular, is a disease that can sometimes result from how we treat our bodies. Instead of dealing with the consequences down the road, we should take the steps now to prevent potential harm.  

Here are 8 ways to reduce your risk of getting cancer:

1.  Maintain a Healthy Diet
Sustain a healthy weight:
Obesity is considered a risk factor for cancer. This means that individuals who are obese have a greater risk of developing cancer. Suspected reasons for this relationship are the increased insulin levels, chronic low-level inflamation, and potential link between fat calls and processes that regulate cancer growth that are found in individuals who are obese. 
Limit alcohol intake
A high alcohol intake increases the risk of liver, head, neck, breast, and esophageal cancers. This may be due to certain chemicals that are in alcohol that can damage the DNA of healthy cells. Additionally, alcohol may weaken the body’s ability to process and absorb necessary nutrients. 
Integrate fruits and vegetables into your diet
The direct effect of this is the nutrients in fruits and vegetables such as fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants work together to reduce the risk of certain cancers. 
This also indirectly protects against cancer by helping to maintain a healthy body weight. 

2.  Stay Physically Active
Being active can reduce chances of getting cancer as physical activity promotes wellbeing within the body.
What it means to be “physically active”:
  • Adults should be active daily for either 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of intense activity.
  • Adolescents should be active daily for 1 hour of moderate or intense activity.

3.  Practice Protection from the Sun
  • Stay out of direct, midday sunlight as much as possible. 
  • Use natural based sunscreen.
  • Avoid sun lamps, tanning beds, and tanning salons. These alternative methods of tanning are just as damaging to the skin as natural sunlight. 

4. Get Regular Medical Care
Cancer screenings can help detect cancer early, often before signs and symptoms start to emerge. 
The practicality of undergoing certain cancer screenings depends on your age, lifestyle, and family history. Talk to your doctor about what screenings would be most beneficial for you in regard to these factors. 

5. Don’t Use Tobacco
Products that have tobacco in them include: cigars, cigarettes, bidis, kreteks. Tobacco can also be consumed by smoking loose tobacco in a pipe or hookah, or by chewing tobacco. 
Tobacco products are comprised of more than 7,000 chemicals, 70 of which currently known to cause cancer (carcinogens). Smoking causes 30% of all cancer related deaths in the United States. Nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancers are caused by smoking cigarettes. The use of tobacco products is very directly tied to certain cancers. 

6. Stay Up-to-Date with Your Vaccinations
There are two vaccinations that are approved by the FDA as cancer preventative vaccinations: the HPV vaccine and the Hepatitis B vaccine. 
These vaccines help reduce your risk of getting either virus, both of which are linked to certain cancers.

7 Increase Your Vitamin D Intake
Taking vitamin D supplements may help prevent certain cancers. There is evidence that Vitamin D can help regulate cell growth as well as help us use the calcium in our diet. 

8. Avoid Risky Behaviors
  • Practice safe sex It is necessary to be safe when in a sexual relationship—limiting your number of sexual partners and always using a condom—as there is the potential of becoming infected with HIV or HPV virus. Individuals with these viruses have a higher risk of developing cancer. 
  • Don’t share needlesSharing needles increases risk for developing HIV, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C. An individual who has these viruses has an increased risk of liver cancer. 

If you have any concerns or questions about how to maintain a healthy lifestyle that will best prevent against cancer, your doctor is an invaluable resource to reach out to! You doctor can answer any questions that would be pertinent to your specific lifestyle and family history. When in doubt, reach out!

Written by Kaleigh Carrier

Sources:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/cancer-prevention/art-20044816 
Cancer.org 
https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/causes-of-cancer/can-cancer-be-prevented
https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/the-10-commandments-of-cancer-prevention
https://www.rogelcancercenter.org/cancer-prevention
https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/cancer-prevention/diet-exercise/nutrition-and-diet/fruit-vegetables-help-prevent-cancer/
https://www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/prevention-and-healthy-living/obesity-weight-and-cancer-risk
https://oralcancerfoundation.org/understanding/tobacco/tobacco-as-a-cause/ 
https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/cigarettes-other-tobacco-products
https://www.cancernetwork.com/article/does-vitamin-d-have-role-cancer-prevention