Cancer is a scary disease that strikes fear in everyone just by hearing the word. It’s associated with chemotherapy, long hospital stays and ultimately; death. While there is no cure, there are many survivors who have faced the idea of death and with a fight, have beaten the death. Though, survivors always fear that it can reoccur, they usually don’t take their second chance for granted and take steps to improve their lifestyle in order to stay cancer-free.
This ugly disease also strikes fear into the hearts of those who have had a loved one with the disease-whether they beat it or not. But why wait for this disease to be a part of your life. Taking steps to stay cancer free by living a healthier lifestyle can give you the power to not fear this disease so much and cut your chances of ever having it.
Two big risk factors for cancer are smoking and being overweight. Smoking is a more obvious one because you are inhaling cancer causing chemicals called carcinogens with every puff of a cigarette. Chewing tobacco also contains these carcinogens and carries the same risks. The earlier you stop, the greater the impact and it’s never too late to quit. People who quit smoking at 30 live nearly as long as non-smokers and those who quit at 50 can still undo half the damage.
Links between body weight and cancer are complex and are not yet fully understood. Excess body weight may affect cancer risk through a number of mechanisms such as immune system function, inflammation, levels of certain hormones such as insulin and estrogen, factors that regulate cell division and proteins that influence how the body uses certain hormones, such as sex hormone-binding globulin.
Eliminating these two risk factors from your life will greatly cut your cancer risk. Another risk most don’t know is that beta-carotene, often found in antioxidant supplements, has been found to increase the risk of lung cancer developing in smokers and people who have been heavily exposed to asbestos at work. It is possible that taking large amounts of beta-carotene supplements would also increase the risk of cancer in other people. This is why it is important to educate yourself about taking supplements before they become part of your daily regimen.
Leading a healthy lifestyle can also help lower your risk of developing certain cancers. Eating a healthy balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, getting exercise and reducing your alcohol intake will reduce your cancer risk. Eating five servings of fruits or vegetables a day is highly recommended. A high fiber diet with plenty of whole grain food is also recommended.
Reducing the amounts of red and processed meats in your diet will also lower your risk of certain cancers. People who eat a lot of these meats have a higher risk of getting bowel cancer than people who eat small amounts. Beef, pork and lamb are all red meat. Processed meats include bacon, sausages, salami and ham.
The no-brainer approach to avoiding skin cancer is to limit sun exposure and get into the habit of always wearing a sunscreen of at least SPF 15. Spend time in the shade between 11am and 3pm and make sure you never burn. Cover yourself up with a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses if going outdoors for longer periods of time and take care not to let children get burned. We live in a society where a healthy glow is preferred but there are plenty of self-tanners on the market to give you that while you stay protected.