According to the World Health Organization, one-third of all cases of cancer are avoidable. And while these days it seems as if everything is a potential cause, there are steps you can take to help prevent the onset of cancer for you or your loved ones. Here are seven ways to reduce your risk of getting cancer, whether you’re in your 20s or 80s.
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There are three things that are absolutely known to cause cancerous cells: tobacco use, radiation and infections. You can decrease your chances of cancer by reducing your exposure to these cancer-causers as well as by taking a few other health-promoting steps.
Stay away from tobacco
This is probably the most widely recognized bit of advice about cancer prevention, as it plays a major role in contracting cancers of the lung, esophagus and larynx. Aside from smoking cigarettes, other tobacco products such as chewing tobacco should be avoided as well, since they are just as unhealthy as cigarettes.
Avoid harmful UV rays
Taking precautions when spending time outdoors and in the sun can significantly decrease your risk of getting skin cancer. Always wear sunscreen and proper clothing (hats, pants and shirts with sleeves), especially if you have sensitive skin. Even tanning beds that use UV rays have been deemed carcinogenic to the humans, despite their popularity and widespread acceptance in society.
Get tested and immunized for common infections
HPV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, Epstein-Barr virus, and Heliocobacter pylori can all cause various types of cancers, from cervical cancer to cancer of the liver to gastric cancer. There are two verified vaccines (they’ve been FDA-approved) to fight cancer-causing agents from these viruses. Making sure you get regular checkups and treating any infections quickly can help lessen the risk of developing cancerous cells.
While these three factors are known to be directly correlated to cancer, the following four lifestyle factors have significant research to back up their correlations as cancer-causing agents.
Be aware of environmental carcinogens
It is thought that a significant percentage of workers (20 to 30 percent of males and 5 to 20 percent of females) have been exposed to carcinogens, such as asbestos, in the workplace. These types of environmental and occupational hazards can cause mesothelioma (cancer of the outer lining of the chest cavity and lungs) and leukemia.
Maintain a healthy diet
Sounds easy enough, but a large portion of Americans don’t get their daily suggested values of fresh fruits and vegetables and other important food groups. To top it off, our national preference for processed foods has been shown to be a contributing factor to different forms of cancer. Also make sure to thoroughly wash fresh produce to remove any pesticides that might be still lingering, since these environmental agents are thought to also play a role in developing cancer.
Minimize alcohol intake
Oral cancer, esophageal cancer, breast cancer and liver cancer are all linked to increased alcohol consumption. Decreasing overall alcohol intake may help prevent these types of cancer.
Stay active and keep your weight in check
Physically active people generally have fewer health problems than those who are not, and that extends to cancer prevention, as well. Studies have shown that people who engage in exercise and routine activities have a much lower likelihood of developing colorectal cancer. There are also links that show that physical activity might play a role in lowering the risks of breast and endometrial cancer.
Cancer isn’t completely unavoidable, but taking steps that make positive changes to your diet and lifestyle can have an enormous impact on cancer prevention and can help you make cancer less of a risk to your health — no matter what your age.