It seems like every other day, there’s another article in the news claiming yet another favorite food or activity has been found to cause cancer. It’s almost enough to make you want to put yourself in a bubble, but there’s no reason to retreat just yet. While there is no definitive way to prevent all forms of cancer, there are plenty of steps you can take to reduce your risk throughout your life and start living an anti-cancer lifestyle early on and beyond.
Here Comes the Sun
We all know how important it is to protect our skin from the sun. In the past 30 years, more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer than all other forms of cancer combined. Sunlight isn’t all bad for you, though. Exposing your skin to sunlight triggers the production of vitamin D in the body.
Scientists are now studying whether or not the sun vitamin can be used to treat or prevent cancer. One promising study has shown that vitamin D, when administered alone or paired with calcium, can help to prevent precancerous growths.
Use sunscreen whenever you’re going to be outside. Even a lotion that has a low is a great way to protect your skin.
Time to Go Green
No, we’re not talking about recycling your plastics to save the environment. Instead, swap out your coffee for a few cups of green tea every day. Green tea is full of polyphones, which have often been shown to have a variety of health benefits, including cancer prevention.
There are even some studies looking into the effects of the polyphenols and how they could prevent damage caused by ultraviolet radiation. Black tea has some of these polyphenols as well, but in much lower concentrations than green or white teas.
Get to the Gym
Being at a healthy weight is a great goal, but it can also help lower your cancer risk. Individuals with a BMI (body mass index) of higher than 25 have a higher risk of developing a variety of different cancers. Exercise and a healthy diet are the best way to maintain a healthy weight.
Lean Protein Is Key
Everyone loves a good rare steak every now and then, but reducing your red meat intake could also reduce your cancer risk. Red meat includes beef, pork and lamb. Processed meat, like hot dogs and some lunch meat, should also be avoided due to an increased risk of cancer.
Instead, replace red meat in your diet with lean proteins like chicken and fish. Fish has the bonus of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which also help reduce your risk of certain cancers.
Junk the Junk Food
Junk food is a quick and easy way to satisfy that afternoon hunger, but it’s also full of sugars, preservatives and other chemicals that can both increase cancer risk and influence the growth of already existing cancer cells. Healthier options like nuts, fruits and vegetables are all great alternatives.
While you’re dropping the junk food, remember to skip anything with artificial sweeteners like splenda/sucralose and aspartame. It’s not as easy as it sounds — you might find yourself having to read ingredient labels to double check. Many sodas and packaged teas, for example, are including sucralose in their formula without indicating on the labels that the drink is low calorie or diet.
Don’t Skip Your Appointment
While you can take all sorts of steps to help lower your cancer risk, nothing is more important than regular checkups with your primary care physician. He or she is your first line of defense when it comes to cancer diagnoses and treatment, and regular physicals can detect cancer growth or cells before they become dangerous or untreatable. No matter how much you dislike going to the doctor, don’t neglect your checkups.
There’s no surefire way to prevent cancer, but a few simple lifestyle changes can help you reduce your chances of developing the disease. The earlier you start, the greater the benefits – but it’s never too late to make changes that could alter your life.