For many, a cancer diagnosis is one of the scariest things imaginable. Though most cancers are treatable, it’s always best to try and prevent serious medical problems before they have a chance to occur.
Here are a few things that, according to scientific research, can actually reduce your risk of getting cancer.
1. Don’t smoke or use tobacco products.
Most people probably know that smoking causes lung cancer, but that’s not the only damage cigarettes can do. According to the Mayo Clinic, lighting up can also leave you with cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, cervix, bladder, pancreas, and kidney.
Cutting out all tobacco exposure is important if you’re looking to minimise your risk of cancer. Chewing tobacco has also been linked to cancer of the mouth and pancreas, and secondhand smoke can increase your risk of lung cancer, the Mayo Clinic further reports.
2. Limit alcohol, as your cancer risk can increase the more you drink.
According to the National Cancer Institute, there is strong scientific evidence suggesting the consumption of alcohol can lead to several types of cancers, including breast, liver, head, neck, and colorectal cancer. Research has also shown that people who use both alcohol and tobacco have a great risk of developing cancer, and that cancer risk increases the more a person drinks.
3. Maintaining a healthy weight lowers your risk of disease.
Watching your weight can benefit more than just your waistline. The Mayo Clinic suggests staying at a healthy weight can lower the risk of different cancers including breast, prostate, colon, lung, and kidney cancer.
4. Staying active is a cancer-fighting habit.
The Mayo Clinic notes that regular physical activity could lower your risk of breast and colon cancer.
You don’t have to be a gym rat to benefit from exercise. Any amount of physical activity is good for you, but adults should strive for 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity.
5. Regular cancer screening tests can prevent some types of the disease from developing.
The American Cancer Society recommends regular screening tests to detect cancers before they have had a chance to spread.
Some tests, like cervical and colon tests, can even prevent cancer from developing in the first place, according to the American Cancer Society. You should always attend scheduled screening tests and talk to your doctor about any additional tests you might like to have performed.
6. A healthy diet is crucial for preventing certain cancers.
Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and high-quality sources of protein is good for your health in general, but it can also help prevent certain cancers.
The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least two and a half cups of vegetables and fruits a day, consuming less red and processed meat, choosing whole grains over refined grains, and snacking on less sugar as good ways to lower your cancer risk.
7. Stay out of the sun.
Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer and avoiding excessive sun exposure is a good way to prevent it, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Stick to the shade when possible, cover exposed areas of skin with tightly woven clothing, apply sunscreen liberally, and don’t use tanning beds to decrease your risk of skin cancer.
8. Get vaccinated against HPV.
If you have a cervix, you are susceptible to infection by strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) that cause cervical cancer.
According to the National Cancer Institute, getting an HPV vaccine will decrease your risk of cervical cancer. Using barrier protection methods during sexual activity and limiting your sexual activity can also lower your risk.
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9. Practice safe sex to help prevent certain cancers.
You probably know that unprotected sex can lead to sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy, but not using the right birth control might also expose you to cancer-causing viruses.
The Mayo Clinic recommends using a condom when you have sex to prevent contracting HIV or HPV. HPV increases your chances of having cancer of the cervix, anus, throat, penis, vulva, and vagina.
People with HIV or AIDS also have a higher risk of getting cancer of the liver, anus, or lungs, as further noted by the Mayo Clinic.
10. Avoid harmful pollutants.
Depending on what you do for work or where you live, you might be exposed to cancer-causing chemical substances.
The World Health Organisation recommends wearing protective clothing and masks when working with strong chemicals, restricting the use of strong chemicals to well-ventilated rooms or outside, and having your home checked for asbestos.
11. Consider taking a low-dose aspirin.
Harvard Medical School advises that men who take aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs seem to have a lower risk of colon and prostate cancers.
However, the effect has not been definitively proven and taking too much aspirin can cause stomach bleeding.
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