In the year 2020, approximately 19.3 million cases of cancer and nearly 10 million cases of cancer deaths were reported. Among these, cancer of the lung, colorectal, prostate, breasts, liver, and stomach were the most common types.
Did you know that a majority of it can be prevented with the help of lifestyle changes? So, even if there’s no cure, we do have the power to avoid many of these cancers – by simply preventing them.
Most preventable cancers are caused due to avoidable risk factors. If each of us can commit ourselves to be physically active, eat foods to prevent cancer (fruits and vegetables), limit alcohol consumption, maintain healthy body weight, cut down on processed meat, quit smoking, and avoid UV radiation, we can significantly reduce cancer risk.
In this blog post, we will discuss the three most effective ways to prevent cancer.
Before that, we’ll study the warning signs of cancer.
Early Cancer Warning Signs You Must Know
Regular cancer screenings and early diagnosis is the key to living longer. We have listed the most common and noticeable cancer warning signs. Even so, noticing any one of these symptoms isn’t necessarily indicative of cancer.
Hence, discuss with your doctor if you notice multiple signs and symptoms to be safe.
Listed below are the major warning signs:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Extreme fatigue that doesn’t go away after rest
- Recurring fever and night sweats when there are no other symptoms of an infection
- Persistent pain that doesn’t have any other possible explanation
- Skin-related changes, growing moles
You can find out more symptoms here. Now, let us learn how to reduce your cancer risk below:
1. Get Moving Does exercise reduce cancer risk?
Let us understand the correlation between cancer and physical activity in this section. The connection is more profound than you may think. Inactivity is one of the critical risk factors of developing cancer. However, the good news is, being active will significantly mitigate this risk.
Throughout your life, you should try to stay at your ideal body weight. You can do so by engaging in some form of exercise regularly.
The World Cancer Research Fund has confirmed that about 18% of cancer cases in the United States are related to poor nutrition, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and body fatness. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight is essential to reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, and cardiac diseases.
Obese or overweight people have a greater chance of developing several cancer types, including those of the kidney, liver, pancreas, esophagus, endometrium, rectum, colon, and breast (post-menopause in women).So, what’s a healthy weight?
The body mass index (BMI) will give you an accurate measure of your ideal body weight. It takes your weight and height into account and tells you whether you’re underweight, overweight, or obese. If your BMI is lower than 25, you are at a healthy body weight.
On the other hand, overweight or obese people can try these:
- Light activities: These include moderate activities such as gardening, biking, walking, or even housework. The point is to keep yourself moving throughout the day.
- Intense activities: These activities are necessary to increase your heart rate and make you sweat. High-intensity workouts, weight lifting, running, etc., are some examples.
Besides adding activities to your lifestyle, it’s equally important to reduce sedentary behavior. That includes staring at your computer/phone, watching TV, lying down, or sitting for prolonged periods.
2.Limit Alcohol Intake
The consumption of alcoholic beverages dramatically increases your risk of developing many forms of cancer. In fact, alcohol intake – even in smaller amounts – is dangerous when it comes to developing breast cancer.
Especially if you have a genetic history of breast cancer, you must stay away from alcohol to decrease your chances. Typically, women should limit their intake to 1 drink per day, whereas men should limit it to 2 drinks per day.
Women generally have smaller body sizes, and their system takes longer to break down alcohol, so their recommended amount is lower than men.
Limiting alcohol is one of the most crucial guidelines for cancer prevention. If you can altogether avoid it, there’s nothing better. The cancer prevention guidelines state that it’s the amount that matters and not the type when it comes to limiting the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
3. Follow Dietary Guidelines for Cancer Prevention
To reduce your cancer risk, eating well is indispensable. Evaluate what you eat every day and which foods are contributing to the risk. If possible, make a diet plan for the entire family as this is something that would benefit everyone.
It’s best to consult a dietician for a proper diet plan. However, we will recommend the best diet to prevent cancer.
Important dietary guidelines for cancer prevention include:
- Wide and colorful variety of vegetables
- Different kinds of fruits
- Peas and fiber-rich beans
- Whole grains and other foods rich in minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients It’s also important to be aware of foods that may increase your risk of cancer.
Some of them are:
• Refined grain products
• Highly processed foods
• Sugar-sweetened beverages such as fruit drinks, sports drinks, and soft drinks
• Processed meats including hot dogs, sausage, luncheon meats, and bacon
• Red meats, including lamb, beef, or pork
Instead of red meat, try to include beans, poultry, and fish as your primary protein sources. Instead of frying the meat, prepare the meat by poaching, broiling, or baking. Even if you do eat processed meats once in a while, eat smaller portions.
Try to avoid high-calorie foods like sweets, doughnuts, ice cream, chips, potatoes, and French Fries.
Control Your Portion Size
To limit your overall calorie intake, it’s imperative to control the portion size. While it’s easier to cook and eat at home, portions are difficult to manage in restaurants as they tend to serve large portions.
Hence, one of the best ways to prevent cancer is not eating all of it in just one sitting. In restaurants, you can ask the waiter to pack up your leftovers not to waste any food. You can always use it for the next lunch or dinner.
One crucial point here is the plate size. A supersized plate will accommodate more food that will make you fuller than what’s needed. Using smaller plates is a great tip to control portion size and thus decrease your risk of cancer. Not to mention the fact that it still leaves you full.
Educate yourself on calorie intake and try to be more aware of the ingredients used in common grocery store food items. Learning essential ways to prevent cancer also includes checking the food labels while shopping.
Try to stay away from food items that have added sugars and artificial preservatives in them. Apart from that, you should limit the use of dips, dressings, and creamy sauces.
Bonus Tip: Get Vaccinated Protection from viral infections is a vital part of cancer prevention guidelines. You should check with your doctor to get vaccinated against:
- Human papillomavirus (HPV): This sexually transmitted virus can cause genital and cervical cancers. It can also lead to squamous cell cancers (those of the neck and head). FDA has recently approved the Gardasil vaccine for both females and males aged between 9-45 years.
- Hepatitis B: If not for the vaccine of Hepatitis, you have a high chance of developing liver cancer. It’s highly recommended for people who aren’t in a monogamous relationship as they are at increased risk. Hepatitis B vaccine is also imperative for public safety workers (since they are constantly exposed to body fluids and infected blood), healthcare workers, intravenous drug users, and men with sexual relationships with other men.
It’s crucial to avoid unsafe behaviors that might increase your chances of getting cancer. For instance:
- Practice safe sex: Always use protection and limit the number of sexual partners. You’re more likely to get infected with HPV or HIV otherwise. People with sexually transmitted infections are at a greater risk of lung, liver, and anus cancer. For instance, HPV can cause the vagina, vulva, throat, penis, anus, and cervical cancer.
- Never share needles: Intravenous drugs should be administered very carefully. Sharing needles can cause Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV. These, in turn, elevate your chances of getting liver cancer. Seek professional help if you’re worried about addiction or misuse of drugs.
With this, we wrap up the best ways to prevent cancer!
If you’re reading this post, you’ve taken the first step towards cancer prevention. By following the abovementioned ways to reduce the cancer risk, you can significantly improve your longevity. Challenge yourself to get rid of those extra pounds, make healthier dietary choices, limit alcohol, educate yourself, and improve your quality of life drastically as a result!
Look for the warning signs described in the beginning. This proactive approach would help doctors catch the disease during its onset and begin the treatment right away.