Every day it seems there’s news of a well-loved food that’s believed to cause cancer or a report of a wonder drug that helps prevent the disease. What’s a person to do?
According to the Mayo Clinic, by living healthy in general you can lower your risk of cancer and many other ailments. That’s good advice, particularly in February when National Cancer Prevention Month is focused on ways to keep all forms of cancer at bay.
Many of Mayo recommendations are linked. Keeping one’s weight at a healthy level is tied the clinic’s advice to stay active and eat a nutritious, balanced diet. Overweight people who take off a few pounds, for instance, are known to lower their risk of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidneys.
Mayo Clinic guidelines on healthy eating mirror what many nutritionists say. Eating more plant-sourced foods – like fruit, vegetables, whole grains and beans – and avoiding high-fat foods, especially from red meats, are among the top recommendations for lowering the risk of cancer. In addition, taking an anti-inflammatory supplement such as Super C22 from Dr. Newton’s Naturals, which contains 22 forms of vitamin C, protects the immune system.
Everything in moderation was the catchphrase that culinary great Julia Child used to rely on as she added another dab of butter or cheese to a dish. The same can be said of drinking alcohol. Cancer risk heightens when people drink heavily, but if kept to moderate consumption, alcohol doesn’t have to be banned from a cancer prevention diet.
Using tobacco, either by smoking or chewing, is one of the biggest mistakes a person can make if they want to prevent cancer. Not only has it been solidly linked to lung cancer and other respiratory diseases, but tobacco can increase the potential of developing many other cancers.
People should also limit their proximity to second-hand smoke. While most public areas are smoke-free, being exposed to smoke at home or in other private spaces is still a problem for many. For those who want to lower their cancer risk, don’t just empty the ashtrays – get rid of them.
Visiting the doctor
Even healthy people shouldn’t ignore the need for self-exams and screenings for cancers of the skin, colon, prostate, cervix and breast. Early detection is one of the linchpins of prevention and helps beat the disease when treatment is sought before cancer progresses to a more serious stage.
Regular doctor’s exams are a top preventative measure and should now include immunizations that are directly tied to cancer. For instance, the hepatitis B vaccine lowers the potential for liver cancer and human papillomavirus vaccine prevents the spread of a sexually transmitted virus that can cause cervical and genital cancers. HPV vaccine is regularly administered to adolescents, but for those who did not become immunized at an early age, the vaccine is available to men and women up through the age of 26.
Lifestyle changes that prevent cancer are among the easiest to achieve with little impact on daily life. Staying out of the sun and away from tanning salons, for example, is at the top of the prevention list to avoid skin cancer, one of the most pervasive forms of the disease.
Inveterate sun lovers should at least stay out of direct sunlight during times when they are most intense, from mid-morning to late afternoon. Covering exposed skin with loose-fitting clothing, donning sunglasses and headgear and using liberal amounts of sunscreen are other safeguards against damage from ultraviolet light.