One of the phrases that everyone would rather not hear in a lifetime is “you have cancer”. The big C is one of the most dreaded diseases, all the more dreaded because of how often it is diagnosed. We want to prevent contracting it, but you’re probably like the many people who don’t have a firm grasp of what actually causes cancer.
The different kinds of cancer are triggered by different factors. There are different kinds of risk factors that increase a person’s chance of contracting a certain cancer. These risk factors include genetics, family history, exposure to carcinogens, certain diets and other environmental factors. Some risk factors like family history, age and gender cannot be changed, but there are some steps that can be taken to lower the risk of having cancer.
Avoiding or quitting smoking is one way to lower the risk of cancer. Smoking contains a number of toxic chemicals and carcinogens that increase the risk of cancer. Quitting smoking especially decreases the chance of developing lung cancer, throat cancer, mouth cancer and liver cancer. Alcohol should also be taken in moderation in order to reduce the risk of getting the disease.
People who are at an increased risk of skin cancer are advised t o stay in the shade and to apply adequate amounts of skin protection in the form of high UV protection sun block. Vaccinations also work well for certain types of cancer such as cervical cancer in women, or preventing hepatitis B that can cause liver cancer.
Scheduling regular screenings can also catch certain abnormalities while they are still benign before they can turn into cancers. One example is colon cancer, which can be prevented through screening to see and remove any polyps forming in the colon. Consider getting yourself screened by getting a mammogram, pap smear, and colonoscopy.
Eating a healthy diet is also key in lowering cancer risk. Generally, eating lots of fruit and vegetables is recommended, including whole grains and beans. Red meats and animal fats should also be taken in moderation, and should be substituted with the healthier option—fish. Fish especially fatty varieties like salmon, tuna and cod are high in the antioxidant omega-3 which can help protect cells.
People are also encouraged to maintain a normal weight. Obesity is a risk factor in many types of cancers (and in many other diseases) so weight must be controlled. Part of keeping the weight down is by adopting the proper diet and regular exercise. Everyone should include at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
Some cancers can also be prevented by practicing safe sex, particularly cervical cancer. Use condoms to serve as a barrier to the HPV virus that causes cervical cancer, and try to stay monogamous with a partner that you trust.