The word cancer can evoke fear for most individuals. While the medical field continues to conduct research and develop treatments, there are still no absolute indicators on why some people develop certain cancers, while others do not. What we do know from medical research is there are multiple factors that can impact whether a person gets cancer. Certain risk factors such as age and family history can’t be avoided but there are steps one can take or lifestyle changes that can be incorporated to help improve overall health and prevent the risk of cancer. In this blog, you will find seven cancer prevention tips to consider adopting:
1. Get regular screenings
Perhaps the most obvious but nonetheless important health care practice is getting regular screenings. It is essential to an early cancer diagnosis and to minimize serious risk and maximize treatment options and efficacy. Visiting your primary care physician for an annual physical is a good first step to getting a thorough health evaluation, assessing your risks and getting recommendations on what screenings you should receive. Here is a quick check list of screenings to consider:
- Yearly mammograms for women 50+
- Prostate cancer testing for men 50+
- CT scan for lung cancer; especially for current and previous smokers
- Colonoscopy screening for colorectal cancer for 45+
- Skin checks with the dermatologist yearly, depending on risk for skin cancer
2. Increase physical activity
Physical activity and regular exercise are just plain good for you. From your heart health to your mental health to reducing your risk of cancer, the benefits of maintaining an active lifestyle is a simple yet effective way to stay healthy. The American Cancer Society recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. Moderate exercise can include playing golf, practicing yoga, going for a walk or a bicycle ride. As you age, your ability to perform certain activities changes so be sure to check with your doctor to identify activities that best suit your ability and health goals.
3. Stop smoking
If you smoke or use tobacco, quit. Eliminating tobacco use is one of the best health decisions you can make. And it is low hanging fruit when it comes to cancer prevention. Tobacco use is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer and is a contributor to mouth, throat, cervical, and bladder cancer. If you think it’s too late to quit, it’s not. Your body will begin recovering from tobacco use almost immediately after you quit and will significantly reduce your risk of cancer.
4. Minimize stress
Few people recognize the effects that stress has on our health. An overwhelming level of stress can and does impact the body and/or the brain, which contributes to health issues. It is unclear if stress has a direct correlation to cancer, but we know that when the body experiences stress, neurotransmitters like norepinephrine are released, which stimulate cancer cells and can make existing cancer spread faster. Consider spending some time reflecting on what might be causing stress in your life and evaluate how to limit it or omit it altogether. A professional counselor or mental health practitioner can be very helpful in conducting this evaluation. Exercise, yoga and meditation are also helpful tools for reducing stress.
5. Eat a balanced diet
Although what you eat can’t guarantee cancer prevention, it can definitely reduce your risk. Consider these options when evaluating how your dietary habits can impact your health:
- Maintain a healthy weight
Being over or underweight is one of the most common risk factors for a variety of health issues including cancer. In fact, obesity is linked to a higher risk of getting 13 kinds of cancer including: breast, colon and rectum, kidney, liver, thyroid and others as listed by the CDC.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
We’ve all heard people recommend filling the plate with produce rich in color. Consuming three balanced meals a day is a key factor to a healthy diet. This means including an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, and other plants such as whole grains and beans as well as lean meats and fish for protein.
- Limit alcohol intake
The Mayo Clinic states that the risk for several types of cancer can increase based on alcohol consumption and the length of time you’ve been drinking regularly. Consider limiting daily alcohol intake or stopping altogether to decrease your risk of cancer.
- Limit processed meats
Processed meats are meats that are preserved by smoking or salting, curing or adding chemical preservatives. Examples include deli meats, bacon and hot dogs. Processed meats increase your cancer risk because when these meats are preserved, cancer-causing substances form and that are ingested when you consume the meat.
Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and yet one of the most preventable. To minimize your risk of skin cancer, incorporate these tips:
- Use sunscreen daily
- Avoid tanning beds
- Stay in the shade whenever possible
- Avoid strong rays during the hours of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
- Cover exposed skin as much as possible
Cancer is a leading cause of death, taking the lives of over 10 million people worldwide in 2021 according to WebMD. Thanks to innovations in health care and research, today we know more about the causes of cancer, how to prevent it, and how to treat it. Beginning by following the tips we’ve shared is an important step to protecting your health and boosting your immune system to help prevent cancer and other diseases.
Adobe Care & Wellness is committed to helping its members live a healthier quality of life by providing proactive case management services and conducting at home assessments and visits. We take a holistic approach and utilize healthcare technology innovations to help individuals incorporate tools that protect against injury, prevent illnesses including cancer, and improve overall health. To learn more about Adobe Care & Wellness and the services and resources it provides its members to live a healthier, better quality of life, please contact us.