One out of every four deaths is attributed to cancer. And more than 1,500 people in the U.S. alone die of cancer every single day. But one-third of all cancer deaths is said to be caused by lifestyle choices. While the following tips to avoid getting cancer might sound obvious, they often take a little effort.
How to Avoid Getting Cancer
Watch Your Weight
Being overweight decreases the chances of survival for many cancers, and increases the risk for cancer recurrences. If you are overweight, try reducing the amount of high-calorie foods you eat and eliminate sodas.
A diet rich in plant-based foods boosts fiber and antioxidants, keeping the immune system strong. Colorful fruits and vegetables have the biggest benefits. Eat them raw or only slightly cooked to maintain nutrients. Avoid the microwave. A simple trick is to look at your dinner plate to make sure that three-fourths of it is filled with fruits, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
Minimizing processed foods is also suggested. Make sure that you read food labels and work to:
- Reduce Cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams or less per day.
- Reduce Saturated Fat to less than 10% of your daily calorie intake.
- Eliminate Trans-Fat as much as possible.
Cut down on red meat. Meat lacks fiber and nutrients that help fight cancer and has an abundance of saturated fats. Also, depending on how it is prepared, meat can develop carcinogenic compounds when cooked. These issues are less severe with chicken and fish.
The American Cancer Society recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity. That is about 20 minutes a day. Yet, less than half of all adults meet this recommendation. You can start small. Take a short walk around the block. And increase that gradually until you reach the goal of 20 minutes a day!
Know What To Avoid & How To Protect Yourself
Many personal-care products contain chemicals that are known to be harmful, even toxic. While Europe has regulated or banned 1,100 different ingredients determined to be unsafe, the U.S. has only banned 11. Even more surprising is that several known carcinogens (cancer-causing ingredients) are allowed to legally be used in personal care products—including toothpaste.
You may be surprised to learn that as much as 60% of certain ingredients actually can be absorbed by the skin.
What can you do? Read the label. You don’t have to be a chemist. Just learn what ingredients to avoid. According to the FDA, some cancer-causing ingredients can be identified by the following prefix, word, or syllables: “PEG,” “Polyethylene,” “Polyethylene Glycol,” “Polyoxyethylene,” or ending with “-oxynol’ or ‘-eth” (such as Ceteareth or others). There are other concerns, but this is a good start.
Many of the processed foods you buy every day contain a number of chemicals—including some of the known carcinogens listed above, like “Propylene Glycol.” Get in the habit of reading labels and avoiding products that contain harmful ingredients.
While the evidence isn’t conclusive enough to convince the U.S. government to ban the use of BPA (bisphenol A) in plastic containers, the CDC (Center for Disease Control) did a test and detected BPA in the urine of 93% of those 6 and older. Here’s how you can minimize your exposure to BPA:
- Reduce or avoid canned foods, which are often lined with plastics containing BPA.
- Avoid plastic containers that are stamped with the #7 on the bottom.
- Never microwave anything in plastic polycarbonate containers.
Too much sun exposure is known to cause the most common type of cancer – skin cancer, which is classified as either non-melanoma or, the more serious type, melanoma.
- Limit or avoid direct exposure to intensive sunlight.
- Spend more time in the shade.
- Cover up with a shirt, a hat, and sunglasses with UV-A/B protection.
- Use sunscreen, even on the lips and ear lobes, with an SPF 30 or higher.
- Reapply sunscreen every couple of hours and after swimming, toweling dry, or sweating.
- Avoid tanning beds.
Smoking is the highest single cause of cancer deaths. Yet, it is the most preventable. Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals, including 69 known carcinogens. While it certainly may be addicting, be strong and remember that it was a choice to start, and it is a choice to quit. Ask your doctor for help.
Early detection can make a big difference. Whenever you suspect any problem or concern, do not hesitate. Check with your doctor immediately.
While some of this advice to avoid getting cancer may sound obvious, statistics make us very aware that we often forget these tips or ignore the advice. I hope that sharing this cancer prevention cheat sheet with you inspires you to join me in spreading the word!
David Pollock is a consumer advocate, published author, frequent keynote speaker, and co-host of weekly syndicated radio “Beauty Inside Out” on the RadioMd network. You can read more of his advice empowering women to take control of their health and beauty from the inside out on JustAskDavid.com.
Photo by bjaglin