SUNDAY JUNE 25, 2017
 
Blog HEALTH
LIFESTYLE CHOICES THAT MINIMIZE YOUR RISK OF CANCER
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The c-word is something no one ever wants to hear a doctor say. But every day thousands of people receive a cancer diagnosis. It’s a situation that will forever alter a person’s life.

There’s no way to completely eliminate the risk of getting cancer, but there are things you can do right now to improve your odds. Prostate cancer is a good example of why you can’t wait to make changes. Men who have prostate cancer often don’t have any early warning signs or symptoms. To decrease your chances of getting cancer you have to start making better lifestyle choices as early as possible.

REDUCE NICOTINE INTAKE

We all know smoking cigarettes greatly increases our chance of getting lung cancer, throat cancer and a variety of other health problems. However, many people begin smoking as a teenager when the thought of getting cancer is the furthest thing from their mind. Once a nicotine addiction has formed, it can be difficult to stop smoking cigarettes, even when you accept that it’s bad for your health.

Some people are able to quit nicotine by using patches, gum or pills that are designed to decrease the urge to smoke. Other smokers use vaping as a way to kick the bad habit. You can get small batch vape juice that contains a low amount of nicotine and slowly decrease the level until you wean yourself off it entirely.

DRINK LESS ALCOHOL

Alcohol consumption has been shown to increase the risk of a variety of cancers. The cancers most commonly linked to alcohol use include:

- Breast cancer

- Mouth cancer

- Liver cancer

- Throat cancer

- Colon and rectum cancer

- Esophagus cancer

Health officials have determined the amount of alcohol consumed impacts a person’s risks of the getting the cancers listed above. Higher consumption equates to a higher risk. Experts recommend consuming no more than the recommended limit, which is two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women. 

WEAR SUNSCREEN

Melanoma is one of the most common types of cancer, but it doesn’t have to be. Skin cancer can be prevented by taking proper precautions anytime you’re exposed to ultraviolet radiation. The most important thing you can do, beyond limiting the time you spend outdoors during peak hours of sunlight, is wear broad spectrum sunscreen every day.

Broad spectrum sunscreen contains ingredients that protect against both UVA and UVB rays. UVA rays damage the DNA of skin cells, which results in prematurely aged skin. UVB rays also damage cell DNA, but the damage leads to sunburns and contributes heavily to cancer formation.

GET AT LEAST 7 HOURS OF SLEEP A NIGHT

Sleep is when our body repairs itself and restores energy. It’s particularly important for repairing the circulatory system and brain. Studies have also shown sleep plays an important role in balancing hormone production. Hormones have been linked to a number of cancers and can also affect obesity, another factor connected to cancer risk. Adults should aim to get at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.

INCREASE YOUR ANTIOXIDANT INTAKE

The food we consume contains nutrients that our bodies need to function. Antioxidants are vital nutrients that help remove free radicals (oxidants) from the body before they can damage cells. Health experts have discovered damage from free radicals is a contributing factor for cancer.

You can increase your antioxidant intake by eating colorful fruits and vegetables. The color of these foods is an indicator of their antioxidant level. Aim to fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables at every meal. Some beverages, such as black coffee, green tea and red wine, also contain high levels of antioxidants.

EXERCISE/PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Researchers are beginning to analyze how the lack of exercise is affecting our health. Today, we spend more time sitting than ever before. In past decades, many jobs required people to be on their feet for hours. Before cars became commonplace people primarily walked or biked where they needed to go. People were physically active due to the lifestyle of the time.

We now know exercise is important for maintaining good cardiovascular health. However, it’s also essential for maintaining a healthy weight and reducing the risk of some types of cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity. A wide variety of activities fall into this category, including walking. If you prefer, you can do 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week instead.

GET REGULAR CHECK-UPS

An annual physical exam can give you a better idea of your current health and ways to improve it. Doing so gives you the chance to correct bad habits before they create a health problem. However, regular check-ups are equally important for catching problems early. Early detection of cancer is critical in improving the prognosis and treatment options.

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