Cancer is one of the deadliest diseases that human beings contract. And it is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. There is extensive research on this disease to prevent its occurrence and treatment. And scientists have, to a certain extent, succeeded in developing some procedures to help survivors improve their quality of life. These treatments have also helped extend the life span of the victims of this disease. But prevention should always precede cure. And hence we should find ways to prevent its occurrence.
According to the World Health Organization, in 2018:
- More than 18 million cases of cancer were diagnosed worldwide
- More than 9.5 million people died of cancer
- The most common forms of the disease were lung cancer (11.6%), breast cancer (11.6%) and colorectum cancer (10.2%)
- About 30 to 50% deaths due to cancer are preventable.
Cancer is unfortunately something that every single person is susceptible to, but there are certain risk factors which can increase the likelihood of different cancers developing.
Some of these are out of our control. For example, gender,family history, age and ethnicity,genetics can play a role, when it comes to certain cancers developing.
Other risk factors, however, are within the individual’s control and making positive lifestyle choices can reduce the chance of getting cancer.
10 LIFESTYLE CHOICES WHICH COULD REDUCE THE RISK OF CANCER
Although there is no guarantee, avoiding certain harmful practices or making healthier life choices may prevent cancer from developing in the first place.It can contribute much in improving the quality of life.
1. HEALTHY DIET
We all know that maintaining a healthy diet is good for us and that there are numerous benefits that come from eating well.
Unfortunately, head into a grocery store today and the shelves are likely to be stocked with all sorts of processed foods that are not that good for us.
One study in recent times showed that people who eat a diet containing refined carbs are twice as likely to develop cancer as well as other conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.Your diet provides optimum nutrients like minerals, vitamins, phytochemicals, fiber, and antioxidants needed for various bodily functions and promote cell damage repair. Eating a balanced plant- based diet and reducing processed and refined foods can help reduce cancer risk.
2. AVOID SMOKING
Smoking, along with the use of tobacco products, is responsible for most lung cancer cases.Apart from this, other cancers caused due to the extensive use of tobacco products are cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat, voice box, kidney, cervix, liver, and more. The damaging effects of this disease have been known for many years now. The toxins in tobacco smoke not only negatively impact the immune system but can also change individual cell DNA.
People who smoke are not the only ones at risk. Those exposed long-term to second-hand smoke are also more likely to develop conditions such as lung cancer. And you have good news: stopping smoking can reduce cancer risk by half within 10 to 15 years of quitting. And there is advice for non-smokers to avoid inhaling second hand smoke to reduce cancer risk.
We know that regular exercise is important if we want to stay healthy. This is even more important in an age where many of us have sedentary jobs where we are sat at a desk all day.
Performing regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, boost the immune system and is linked to reducing the risk of no less than 13 different types of cancer.
4. MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Obesity is on the rise. Particularly in many Western cultures, including the USA and several European nations. According to the American Cancer Society, being overweight increases the risk of many diseases, including cancer, in the human body. The increased level of insulin and certain hormones; and chronic inflammation during obesity add to cancer development. Reducing body fat helps normalize hormone levels and inflammation, which decreases the chance of cancer risk. And obesity accounts for some 7% of all cancer deaths in the US.
There have been direct links between excess weight and the incidence of breast cancer, liver, colon, and rectal cancer. So, it is advisable to check your BMI from time to time. If the values are above the recommended numbers, you should consult your healthcare provider to find ways to reduce your weight. It can be a combination of an appropriate exercise regime and diet plan that will help you bring your weight to a healthy level.
5. LIMIT ALCOHOL INTAKE
Many of us like a tipple now and again. Intake of excessive alcohol, however, is a risk factor in developing certain types of cancer, particularly of the mouth, throat, liver, and colon. Research has shown that in women, alcohol intake is a significant risk factor for breast cancer. The ethanol in alcoholic drinks metabolizes acetaldehyde, a carcinogen. It is toxic and can damage DNA, lipids, and proteins in humans. Regular consumption of excess alcohol can inhibit human cells from repairing this damage, thus letting cancer cells grow. Alcohol contains other carcinogenic contaminants like asbestos fibers, hydrocarbons, and phenols. It is advisable to stop drinking alcohol or at least limit its intake to safe levels.
6. AVOID EXPOSURE TO DANGEROUS TOXINS
Many different toxins are present in daily life and these can increase the risk of developing cancer. Construction workers who are exposed to asbestos, for example, are at high risk of lung conditions that can be life-threatening.
Even some readily available household products such as detergents and cleaners could have a damaging effect.
7. QUALITY SLEEP
There is evidence to suggest that not getting enough quality sleep is could increase the risk of cancer. Too much sleep can also be a risk factor, however. Recent research found that prolonged sleep duration increased the potential for individuals to develop colorectal cancer.
The research in this area is controversial when it comes to cancer risk and there is much we don’t understand. But there is no doubt that a good night’s sleep is important for individual health.
Vitamins and minerals are essential to maintaining a healthy mind and body. Those that eat a well-balanced, healthy diet should get all the basic nutrients that they need. If someone is lacking or deficient in a certain vitamin, making dietary changes or taking supplements can help.
9. AVOID RISKY BEHAVIORS
Certain risky behaviors raise the risk of developing cancer. In particular, sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and HPV as well as the various hepatitis viruses which can also be spread through dirty needles all can have an impact.
10. SUNLIGHT PROTECTION
Sunlight is good for keeping our vitamin D levels up which is good for the immune system. However, prolonged exposure to UV rays and not using sunscreen can increase the risk of developing skin cancer.
CAN CANCER BE PREVENTED?
Is it possible to prevent cancer? The simple answer is no. If people make healthier lifestyle choices and avoid potentially harmful behaviors, however, there is strong evidence that suggests we can decrease our risk.
Indeed, research at Harvard University has suggested that between 30% and 70% of cancers could be mitigated by following certain good practices related to health and wellness.