7 habits to reduce your cancer risk

All Woman

YOU can, indeed, take steps to reduce your risk of developing cancer. While scientists are still trying to figure out how to cure the various types, they have so far identified behaviours and characteristics that tend to be common in people with various cancers.

The following habits have been proven to lower your risk of most types of cancer, whether by eliminating the exposure to certain toxins that are thought to cause cancer, or by strengthening your body to fight off disease. Though we can't guarantee that you won't be diagnosed with cancer at some point in your life, these habits definitely won't hurt, and keeping them means you will live a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Watch your weight

Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for most types of cancers. Experts have concluded that excess amounts of body fat cause you to be more likely to develop kidney, pancreatic, colorectal, uterine, oesophagal and even breast cancer. It is therefore recommended that you seek to get to a healthy body weight and remain there.

Quit smoking

Make a habit of inhaling clean, healthy air. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention blames smoking for nine out of 10 lung cancers, and says smoking not only causes cancer, but stops your body from fighting it.

“Poisons in cigarette smoke can weaken the body's immune system, making it harder to kill cancer cells. When this happens, cancer cells keep growing without being stopped,” the CDC says.

Poisons in tobacco smoke can also damage or change a cell's DNA, not only for you, but for everyone around you. Please stop.

Use protection

Certain cancers such as cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men are linked to sexually transmitted infections like the human papilloma virus (HPV). HPV also can cause cancers of the mouth, throat and anus in both sexes, says the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. Also, people with HIV/AIDS are at an increased risk of several types of rare cancers, including lymphomas, sarcomas and cervical cancer. Using a condom is a great thing to practise, as it not only protects you from sexually transmitted diseases, but cancer too.

Eat fresh

Fresh fruits and vegetables work to prevent cancers in two ways. They help to keep your body weight healthy and strengthen your organs and immune system, and they also provide agents that actually fight against cancer cells. The Cancer Council says there is no one 'super' fruit or vegetable that protects against cancer.

“They all contain varying amounts of fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals, therefore it is important to eat a variety. Try and 'eat a rainbow' — eat as many different coloured fruits and veggies as possible; it will help keep your diet interesting and give your body the best protection,” it says.

Limit alcohol intake

All types of alcoholic drinks up your risk of developing some cancers. These include cancers of the mouth and throat, voice box (larynx), oesophagus, breast, colon, liver and rectum. If you don't drink, don't start. If you are a drinker and you don't think you can cut alcohol out completely, try to drink in moderation and limit your intake to no more than one drink per day.

Cut the salt

Diets high in foods preserved by salting (such as pickled vegetables and salted or dried fish) have been linked to an increased risk of stomach and nasopharyngeal cancer, says the Cancer Council. Eating processed meats that have been preserved by salting, curing, fermentation or smoking increases the risk of colorectal cancer. While sodium chloride is used to add flavour to most of our favourite foods, it is recommended that you try not to consume more than five grams of salt (one teaspoonful) per day.

Get screened

While constant screening may not help to prevent cancer, it can definitely help you survive it. Screening for specific cancers is especially important if you have a family history of them, but it is also important to pay keen attention to your body so that you will notice any changes. Also, get regular check-ups by your physician.

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