32 of the most scientifically sound things you can do right now to reduce your risk of developing cancer
- There is no cure for cancer, but there are many ways we can reduce our risk of developing some types of the deadly class of diseases.
- Some of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risk include staying active, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight, especially around your waistline.
- Fortunately, many of the behaviors that help keep us trim, like eating plants, are also great cancer-fighters.
Cancer is a dangerous and common class of diseases: it's the second-leading cause of death in the US, and you probably know at least a few people who have been diagnosed. More than 15.5 million Americans - nearly one in 20 - have had cancer in the past or currently do, according to the American Cancer Society.Yet nearly half of US cancer cases and deaths are linked to preventable risk factors. Similarly, experts in the UK estimate that 4 in 10 cancer cases there are preventable with lifestyle changes.
So a healthy diet and way of life can go a long way towards reducing your risk. Here is a rundown of some of the simplest and most effective ways that
The number one thing you can do to reduce your risk of developing cancer is straightforward and well known: stop smoking, or don't start.
Less is known about the cancer risks associated with vaping, but early studies suggest it is not an ideal replacement for smokers.
After curbing smoking, the second most important thing to do to prevent cancer is maintain a healthy weight.
One easy way to assess whether your weight may put you at risk is to monitor your waistline. Too much belly fat is linked to higher cancer risk.
Getting enough sleep can help.
Another great way to boost your odds against cancer: Get moving.
Exercise can even reduce cancer risk for some people who've already been diagnosed. Colon cancer patients who are more active have a lower risk of recurrence and death.
Another key way to keep our cells healthy and reduce the risk of cancer is to adopt a good diet. Enjoy fiber-packed foods like whole grains, beans, peas, and seeds.
Hummus, chickpeas, and lentils are all great sources of fiber.
Whole fruits are a great source of fiber too, as long as they're not pulverized to smithereens in smoothies. Fruits like lemons, limes, strawberries, and raspberries are also great sources of vitamin C.
Generally speaking, it's great to eat plants. They contain beneficial phytochemicals, which are what gives plants bright colors, odors, and flavors. In our bodies, phytochemicals help defend us against disease.
One great phytochemical is beta carotene, which pops up in orange and yellow produce items like carrots and sweet potatoes.
Leafy greens are also beta-carotene powerhouses, and they contain other beneficial carotenoid phytochemicals, too. It's well known guidance at this point, but it's true: Spinach and kale are excellent health foods.
Broccoli and other crunchy, cruciferous veggies like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage are also great anti-cancer tools.
Lycopene is another wonderful carotenoid. Tomatoes, watermelons, guavas, and pink grapefruits all have it.
Celery is a promising anti-cancer food, too.
Beneficial phytonutrients are not limited to fruits and veggies. They're also found in grains and nuts.
Another tip for reducing cancer risk: Eat iodine-rich foods, which help regulate our hormones. Some good dietary sources of iodine are cheese and yogurt.
Tuna and other fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are great anti-inflammatory aids for the body. But when it comes to cancer prevention, any link between omega-3s and lower cancer risk is still unclear.
Adding some turmeric into your diet is an anti-cancer strategy backed by centuries of cooks.
Mushrooms are an earthy tool that may reduce one's risk of breast cancer. Studies suggest just one per day can help.
Enjoy a daily cup of joe if that’s your thing.
If coffee's not your jam, perhaps you enjoy green tea. Scientists are zeroing in on the tea's potential to kill tumor cells.
Some plastic containers can degrade over time and leach chemicals into our food that mess with how our hormones operate. Opt for glass and stainless steel containers instead.
New moms can reduce their own cancer risk, and that of their newborn, by sticking to breastfeeding for the first few months.
There are also some foods to cut back on if you want to reduce your cancer risk. Red meat is one.
Processed types of meat like hot dogs, cured sausages, and bacon appear to be especially risky.
Grilling meat at high heats can give rise to cancer-causing compounds, but marinating it first may help.
Nix sugar where you can.
Drink less. If you enjoy alcohol, consume it in moderation.
At home, avoid buying flame-resistant furniture, carpets, and clothing.
Take in some sunshine.
But of course, wearing sunscreen is an obvious way to reduce your risk of skin cancer.
Be mindful of harmful radiation you get indoors, too.
Getting the HPV vaccine can also increase your chances of staying cancer-free.
Getting the hepatitis B vaccine can also lower a person's odds of developing liver cancer.
It’s important to remember that despite all the things we can do to reduce our risk of developing cancer, scientists still don't have a cure. It can be tough to know why some people get cancer and not others.
Scientists would also never suggest that simply eating certain foods or changing your lifestyle is an effective cancer treatment. In fact, studies show that opting out of medical treatments in favor of so-called "alternative" therapies leads patients to die more quickly.
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