By Melody Foster
Cancer isn’t a word any of us want to hear, but by understanding the factors that may contribute to cancer, you can help reduce your risk.
The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that about 20 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. can be attributed to lifestyle factors such as body weight, physical activity (or lack thereof), alcohol consumption and/or nutrition. By making the decision to get healthy and maintain a lifestyle of health, you can reduce your risk of a number of cancers, including breast, colon, endometrium, kidney and esophageal, among others.
Here are six lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your cancer risk.
Maintain a healthy weight. Excess body weight contributes to as many as one out of five of all cancer deaths in the U.S. Fat cells cause inflammation in the body that contributes to the growth of cancer cells. By reducing your body fat percentage, you can help lower your risk not only of dying from cancer, but from developing cancer in the first place. Staying within a healthy weight range is the number one recommendation for cancer risk reduction, according to the American Cancer Institute for Cancer Research.
Stay active. Moderate exercise can lower levels of inflammation in your body, thus reducing your risk of developing cancer. Adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week (five days or more). Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least five days a week.
Eat whole foods. Eating processed foods can contribute to a number of health risks, including cancer. Focus on eating whole foods, such as fruits, veggies and lean meats like chicken and fish. Limit your intake of processed foods. Most of your food should come from plant sources, but when you do eat meat, eat a small portion, and prepare it by baking, boiling or poaching, instead of frying or charbroiling.
Avoid tobacco in any form. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 480,000 Americans die every year from illnesses related to tobacco use, and it’s not just smokers who are at risk. Secondhand smoke contains the same harmful chemicals that smokers inhale and contains at least 70 chemicals known to cause cancer. Tobacco isn’t just linked to lung cancer, it is associated with at least 12 different cancers, including cancers of the mouth, kidney, pancreas, stomach and esophagus..
Avoid alcohol. Like tobacco, alcohol is linked to a number of cancers, including cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver and breast.
Manage your stress. While stress itself may not be a cause of cancer, people who have high levels of stress are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors, such as eating junk food and avoiding physical activity.
If you are overweight or obese and need help losing weight, you may be a candidate for weight loss surgery. Contact Nicholson Clinic today to learn more about your weight loss options and if you might be a candidate for bariatric surgery.