8 Simple Steps to Minimize Risk of Cancer

Saad Rana Jul 20 2014
8-simple-steps-to-minimize-risk-of-cancer

Cancer, known medically as malignant neoplasia, is a broad range of diseases involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably forming malignant (bad) tumors, which may invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the body through the lymphatic system or blood stream. Not all tumors are cancerous, such as benign tumors which are a mass of cells that lack the ability to invade neighboring tissue or grow.

The reported cases of cancer have increased significantly all around the world. Many people assume that cancer is entirely genetic and cannot be avoided, but that’s far from the true. A healthy lifestyle and wholesome diet could prevent the development of cancer.

These following eight research backed lifestyle changes can successfully improve your odds against cancer.

Watch Your Weight

Regulating your weight is critical for good health and optimal body function. One of the most significant risks of cancer is abdominal fat. This excess weight begins to act like a gland in the body, secreting unnecessary and unhealthy amounts of hormones. These hormones can lead to over stimulation of body tissues, resulting in cancer.

Your aim should not be to lose as much body fat as possible, but to be healthy keeping your height, age and gender in mind. The Body Mass Index (BMI) chart (hyperlink to BMI) is the perfect way to ascertain whether you are underweight, overweight or perfectly healthy. It uses your weight in kilograms and your height to determine this. Make it a point to understand what your calculated BMI score means. With this starting point you can chalk out what you need to do to bring your BMI within the healthy range.

Don’t Use Tobacco

Using any type of tobacco, whether in cigarette form or hookah (shisha), puts you at risk of developing several types of cancer. Smoking has been linked to cancer of the lung, cervix, bladder and kidney, among others. Chewing tobacco (gutka, pan, naswar) has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Even if you don’t use tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer. Avoiding tobacco, or deciding to stop using it, is one of the most important health decisions you can make and is a critical part of cancer prevention. If you need help cutting down on tobacco usage ask your doctor about products can that facilitate this process. For those who decide to quit smoking, be sure to ask for advice on the management of nicotine withdrawal symptoms.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Although making healthy selections at the grocery store and at mealtimes can’t guarantee cancer prevention, it could help reduce the risk. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Include plant based food sources, such as whole grains and beans, in your regular diet. Focus on eating lighter and leaner by cutting down on high fat foods, particularly those originating from animal sources. High fat diets tend to be calorie rich and increase the risk of becoming overweight or obese. This in turn increases the risk of cancer.

Protect Yourself from the Sun

Skin cancer may be one of the most common types of cancer but it is also one of the most preventable. Avoid the mid-day sun, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. When you venture outdoors try to stay in the shade as much as possible. Sunglasses, a broad-rimmed hat, and a powerful sunscreen (at least SPF 15) will also help to shield your skin from the sun’s rays. Wear tightly woven, loose fitting clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible. Opt for bright colors which reflect more ultraviolet radiation than bleached cotton. Avoid tanning beds or sun lamps, as these are just as damaging as sunlight.

Get Immunized

Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Hepatitis B can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for certain high risk adults such as adults who are sexually active, people with sexually transmitted disease, intravenous drug users, and health care or public safety workers who might be exposed to infected blood or body fluids. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is a sexually transmitted disease that can lead to cervical and other genital cancers as well as squamous cell cancers of the head and neck. The HPV vaccine is available to both men and women (age 26 or younger) who didn’t receive the vaccine as adolescents.

Avoid Risky Sexual Behavior

Another effective tactic is to avoid risky sexual behavior that can lead to infections which in turn might increase the risk of cancer.  Practice safe sex and limit the number of sexual partners that you interact with. The more sexual partners you have, the more likely you are to contract a sexually transmitted disease such as HIV or HPV. People who have HIV or AIDs have a higher risk of developing cancer of the lung, anus and liver. HPV is most often associated with cervical cancer, but it might also increase the risk of cancer of the anus, penis, throat, vulva and vagina. Sharing needles with an infected drug user can lead to HIV, as well as hepatitis B and C, which can also increase the risk of lung cancer.

If You Choose to Drink Alcohol, Drink Moderately

The risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver, increases with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you’ve been drinking. So if you drink, reduce the amount you consume. If you don’t drink alcohol, refrain from starting now.

Get Regular Medical Care

Regular self examinations and screenings for various types of cancers can increase your chances of discovering cancer while it is still at an early stage. At this stage treatment is most likely to be successful.

The Way Forward

Cancer, once contracted, can be a challenging disease to overcome. It poses a triple threat: physical debilitation, mental exhaustion, and psychological turmoil. Why not take precautions beforehand instead of risking the possibility of cancer development and proliferation? These natural lifestyle and dietary changes will strengthen your immunity, and reduce your vulnerability to the dangers of cancer.

Saad Rana

Saad Rana:

As a current dental student at Ziauddin University, Saad takes an interest in health, fitness and nutrition. He writes articles based on research through on-line publications as well as consulting various doctors and nutrition and fitness experts. When he's not writing for Health TV, you can find him studying, exercising or watching some of his favourite TV shows.