Cancer affects people from all walks of life. The National Cancer Institute estimated that, in 2020, roughly 1.9 million new cases of cancer would be diagnosed and more than 606,000 people would die from the disease.
The most common cancers include breast, lung, prostate, colon, melanoma, and bladder cancers. Even the healthiest people are not immune to these diseases. However, there are ways for people to reduce their risk for various cancers.
1. Skip tobacco products. Avoiding tobacco in all forms can greatly reduce a person’s risk of developing cancer. Smoking is a major contributor to various cancers, including lung and bladder cancers.
2. Exercise regularly. Exercise benefits the body in various ways, including reducing a person’s risk for various types of cancers. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends exercising for at least 45 minutes per day. This doesn’t have to mean a hard workout at the gym. Moderate exercise through gardening, dancing, playing with children, or walking the dog are sufficient forms of exercise.
3. Lose weight in a healthy way. The American Cancer Society says obesity and being overweight have been linked to increased risk for breast, colon, esophageal, endometrial, and pancreatic cancers. Fat and sugar metabolism may be mechanisms implicating weight in cancer occurrence. Skip the fad diets and lose weight through portion control, a balance of healthy foods and exercise.
4. Limit alcohol consumption. Excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancers to the breast, esophagus, mouth, and larynx. Harvard Medical School recommends that those who choose to drink limit alcohol their consumption to no more than one drink per day.
5. Reduce consumption of animal fats. Verywell Health notes that studies point to a diet high in animal fat as a contributor to increased risk of certain cancers. Red meat is a particular concern.
6. Avoid radiation exposure. Opt for medical imaging tests only when they are absolutely necessary. Radon in a home is a factor in cancer causation, so homeowners should periodically test their homes for radon. In addition, sunscreen and avoiding the sun during certain times of day, such as between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., can reduce exposure to potentially harmful UV rays.
7. Prioritize safe behaviors. Certain viruses can cause cancer, including Epstein-Barr and human papillomavirus. Hepatitis and HIV also can increase a person’s risk for cancer. Practicing safe sex and avoiding illegal drug use can lower the risk of getting cancer from infectious diseases.
Cancer continues to be a leading cause of death and affects millions of people. By examining their behaviors and lifestyles, people can make changes that reduce their risk for various cancers.