Cancer seems to affect us all. Whether it’s you personally or a loved one, cancer has become something almost all of us have to deal with in one way or another. Statistically, one in four deaths in the United States is due to cancer. More and more findings are revealing that lifestyle plays a huge part in whether or not a person will get cancer. This is good news because it means that the best strategies to prevent cancer are simply to make lifestyle changes.
While there is no evidence to support that any one thing will prevent cancer in every case, experts believe that you can cut your risks in half by engaging in these healthy lifestyle habits on an ongoing basis.
What causes cancer and how can it be prevented?
Cancers can be inherited, but the majority of them are triggered when DNA is damaged, causing cells to grow and divide uncontrollably. So, if we can reduce the amount of DNA damage that occurs, we can reduce the risk of cancer.
That brings us to our next question: What causes DNA damage? Exposure to tobacco, chemicals, alcohol, UV radiation from the sun, other sources of radiation, and oxidation of foods we consume are all linked with DNA damage. Being overweight also has an effect on how fast our cells divide.
Here are the top 16 lifestyle strategies to prevent cancer:
1) Avoid All Tobacco Products – Quitting smoking or chewing tobacco is one of the best choices you can make for your overall health and it is the top strategy for preventing cancer . Smoking has been linked to cancer of the lung, bladder, cervix and kidney, and chewing tobacco is linked with cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Even avoiding secondhand smoke can drastically reduce your chances of getting lung cancer.
2) Eat Nutritious Foods – Eating a diet that is rich in nutrients helps provide your body with the foundation it needs to keep you healthy. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help ward off oxidation that damages DNA and leads to cancer. Eat a diet that is rich in medicinal foods like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and smart proteins. Learn why Medicinal Foods Are the Key to Optimal Health here.
3) Get Consistent Exercise – The body requires physical activity in order for its organs and processes to function properly. Without it, the body goes into shut down mode. Recent research suggests that engaging in longer blocks of exercise may not be enough because our bodies need consistent movement throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be strenuous (and shouldn’t be all the time) but it should be consistent. Learn more here: Is Sitting Too Much Killing You?
4) Maintain a Healthy Weight – Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to optimal health, and when it comes to cancer, it can help keep abnormal cell growth in check. No cancer prevention strategy is complete without weight management. Here are 5 Tips to Break Through the Weight Loss Wall.
5) Stop Putting Chemicals on Your Body – Out of all the strategies to prevent cancer, this one might be the most overlooked. The products that you put on your body are absorbed directly into the blood stream, and too many products are loaded with foreign chemicals that the body cannot handle. By choosing products that use natural, beneficial ingredients, you can help your body ward off cancer. Learn about which body care ingredients you should avoid and which ones you should use here.
6) Limit Sun Exposure to 15 Minutes Per Day – Be smart when it comes to sun exposure. Avoid being in direct sun for longer than 15-20 minutes at a time and wear sunscreen if you need to be in the sun for longer. Don’t eliminate sun exposure altogether though. A small amount of sun exposure is important to provide your body with enough vitamin D, which can help prevent cancer. Moderation is the key here. Learn more here: Why You Should Soak Up the Sun.
7) Get a Good Night’s Sleep – Studies show that getting healthy sleep can help the body ward off cancer by balancing the hormones that can allow cancer to develop. Here are some Tips for Better Sleep.
8) Drink 8 Glasses of Water or Green Tea Per Day – Water is essential for a healthy body. It flushes out toxins and revives the organs. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants, so it will not only provide the body with the water it needs, it will provide an extra nutrient boost. If you are thirsty, it means you are already dehydrated. Drink water consistently all day long whether you are thirsty or not.
9) Limit Alcohol Consumption – Alcohol is essentially toxic to the body and it can affect how susceptible you are to getting cancer. Drink in moderation or not at all, and replace hard liquor with better options like red wine, which contains antioxidants.
10) Keep Up-to-Date With Immunizations – Getting immunizations for certain viral infections like Hepatitis B and HPV can help reduce your risk of cancer.
11) Keep Up-to-Date With Screenings – By getting regular exams and screenings, you are much more likely to discover a potential problem early enough so that it is still treatable.
12) Reduce Microwave Usage – Microwaving foods can destroy a huge percentage of the nutrients and antioxidants that are in healthy food options. Instead of microwaving, choose healthier cooking methods like steaming or sauteeing.
13) Make Unhealthy Cooking Methods Healthier – Grilling food creates oxidation that damages DNA, which can lead to cancer. Frying or sautéing foods until they are caramelized also produces oxidation. When grilling, try coating meats in thick layers of sauce to avoid charring, and avoid caramelizing when cooking on the stovetop.
14) Buy Organic Foods – Organic foods are free from pesticides and many other chemicals that can lead to cancer. They also produce higher quality foods that contain larger amounts of nutrients in them. Learn more about the benefits of eating organic foods here.
15) Reduce Stress – Stress is a leading cause of so many ailments, pains and even diseases, and getting it under control is one of the best strategies to prevent cancer. If you are under a lot of stress, you owe it to your health to find a way to reduce the stress or handle it better. There are so many ways to ease stress in your life, including exercise, getting adequate sleep, self care, acupuncture, massage, practicing gratitude, reducing the things that cause you stress, and changing your mindset about the things that stress you.
16) Get Back to Nature – Whenever possible, choose natural over synthetic. This includes anything you put in your mouth or on your skin, anything you clean with, anything you breath in, the drugs and/or supplements you take, what you garden with, what you wash your clothes with, etc. Chemicals come in many shapes and sizes and they are toxins that can have a huge effect on your health and well-being. Learn more here: Why You Should Get Back to Nature. It seems that our synthetic lifestyles have led to much of the cancer we see and getting back to nature is one of the best strategies to prevent cancer.
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