Following a healthy lifestyle can be challenging in today’s time. One can be easily tempted to overindulge in things that are unhealthy at every turn. In the United States, over one million Americans are diagnosed with cancer per year. This has led to more than 500,000 annual deaths!
Today, nearly 40 percent of Americans are at risk of developing cancer in their lifetime. Common causes of the six major types of cancer (e.g. mixed types, lymphoma, leukemia, myeloma, sarcoma, and carcinoma) include smoking and poor dietary habits.
Fortunately, one of the measures individuals can take to reduce the risk of developing cancer, is sticking to the right lifestyle. Yes, a healthy lifestyle can help prevent cancer, but not 100 percent. One should think of this as a matter of risk reduction. If an individual has genetic factors, he or she may not be able to avoid cancer. If the wrong cell mutates at the wrong time, cancer may be unavoidable.
According to the World Health Organization, up to 50 percent of all cancers are preventable. One must follow the right lifestyle behaviors. Below is a quick look at some concrete lifestyle habits that can aid in cancer prevention:
Moderate Alcohol Consumption
It’s time to stop punishing your body. It does not need that much alcohol that you may be drinking. Excess alcohol intake can increase the risk of cancer pertaining to one’s breast, lung, colon, kidney, and liver. The risk also increases according to the frequency of alcohol consumption. Here is a quick look at what’s acceptable:
- Men: Up to two alcoholic drinks per day
- Women: One alcoholic drink per day
Remember, a standard alcoholic drink is comprised of 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol. This corresponds to 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor; five ounces of wine with 12 percent alcohol content; and 12 ounces of beer with five percent alcohol content.
Follow a Healthy Diet
When one is busy, preparing healthy meals can be a huge challenge. This is, however, not an appropriate excuse for inaction. On your days off or during weekends, it is recommended that you prepare meals in bulk. You can then freeze them for use during the week.
It’s a great idea to eat organic. Some non-organic foods contain pesticides that have been classified as carcinogenic. Farmers, who have worked closely with pesticides day in day out, have shown elevated risks of various cancers. For example, lymphatic system, stomach, lip, skin, lung, brain, and blood cancers. If it can affect them in this manner, the same thing may happen to you as well. Pesticides do not wash off easily, thus purchase organic foods that can be peeled. It’s a general rule that’s worth following.
One’s diet should revolve around plant sources, such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. Individuals who require at least two cups of fruits and vegetables per day, include:
- Men who are over the age of 19
- Women who are between the age of 19 and 30
Older individuals should decrease that amount to 1.5 cups per day.
The next step of eating healthy involves limiting one’s intake of processed and red meats. Processed meats have been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as carcinogens. Examples of processed meats include deli meats, ham, sausage, bacons, and hot dogs. Red meats, such as pork, beef, lamb, and goat, are probable carcinogens. Anything that has been salted, cured, fermented, smoked, etc. will not be good for you in the long run.
The average individual’s risk of getting colorectal cancer is below five percent. The excessive consumption of red meats and processed meats can increase the risk of that cancer by 18 percent. Never exceed 18 ounces of processed and red meats on a weekly basis.
Consider replacing what you need to avoid with healthy fats, such as fish, olive oil, and more.
Say No to Smoking
Heavy smokers have a higher risk of developing the following cancers:
- Mouth cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Larynx-related cancers
- Kidney cancer
- Bladder cancer
- Lung cancer
- Throat cancer
If you smoke on a regular basis, you should stop now. For non-smokers, you should avoid passive or secondhand smoke by staying away from others who might smoke. Next, do not chew tobacco. It has been linked to the cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas.
When it comes to quitting smoking, you do not need to go it alone. You can consult your primary care physician if you find it hard to quit on your own.
Stay Active by Exercising Regularly
One can lower his or her risk of developing cancer by maintaining a healthy weight. To do this, you must be physically active. Regular exercise is known to help lower one’s risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.
To maximize the benefits of exercise, it is recommended that you participate in vigorous aerobic activities for at least 75 minutes per week. If you can only manage moderate aerobic activity, increase the time to 150 minutes. It is a good idea to combine both moderate and vigorous physical activity. You should, however, consult a doctor before starting any exercise program.
There are two important types of vaccinations to get, including the Hepatitis B Vaccine and the HPV (Human papillomavirus) Vaccine. The HPV vaccine is designed to aid in preventing certain strains of cervical cancer. The hepatitis B shot is designed to lower one’s risk of getting liver cancer. In fact, it is recommended for certain high-risk groups, which comprise individuals who are:
- Healthcare workers
- Public safety workers
- STI patients
- Engaged in homosexual relationships (men)
- Intravenous drug users
- Sexually active (have many partners)
Go for Cancer Screenings
The good news is that a wide range of cancer screening tests are available in America today. These screenings have the capability to identify evidences of cancer, even long before symptoms have appeared. Below is a quick look at the major types of cancer that screening tests can detect:
- Skin cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Ovarian cancer
- Lung cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Colon (or colorectal) cancer
- Breast cancer
Get Enough Vitamin D
Both adults and children need to get healthy amounts of sunlight because it is good for the skin. Skin cancer caused by sun exposure is not completely accurate. Sunlight can aid in increasing the body’s production of vitamin D. This happens through the interaction of the cholesterol within your skin and ultraviolet light. The recommended dose of sunlight is no more than 30 minutes of late afternoon or early morning sun on the face and hands.
It is imperative that you avoid getting sunburnt. Sunburns can cause DNA damage and may eventually lead to cancer. If you have gotten your daily dose of sunlight, but still need to be outdoors, apply sunscreen for further protection.
Low levels of vitamin D have often been associated with increased risk of pancreatic, colon, and breast cancers. One can choose to take vitamin D supplements, e.g. 1000 IU-2000 IU, on a daily basis.