How Does Lifestyle Affect Cancer Risk?
Whether it is a personal battle with some form of the disease or losing a friend or loved one to it, cancer has touched most of our lives. For some, the diagnosis is linked to genetics. But for many others, lifestyle plays a leading role in developing cancer.
While cancer research has improved many treatments, taking a proactive approach to preventing the disease is best. These lifestyle choices may help you avoid developing cancer.
5 Healthy Behaviors to Help Lower Your Risk of Cancer
- See your doctor regularly: White coat syndrome, a condition health care professionals use to describe anxiety experienced when visiting the doctor, might keep you from seeing your doctor regularly. But having an annual physical and staying on top of routine screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, can help identify potential problems early. That’s key to most treatments’ success rates.
- Practice sun safety: Skin cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer. It’s also one of the most preventable. Avoiding the midday sun combined with wearing sunscreen and a hat are ways you can lower your risk of skin cancer. It’s also important to have a dermatologist or your primary care physician do a head-to-toe exam at least once a year to identify potential problem spots on your skin.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Researchers believe you can lower your risk for breast, prostate, lung, colon, and kidney cancer by maintaining a healthy weight. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and lean protein is generally considered to be best, especially when combined with 150 minutes or more of exercise a week. Walking, swimming, yoga, and biking are low-impact exercises to consider.
- Don’t smoke: It’s not just lung cancer that is linked to tobacco usage. Smokers are also at higher risk for cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix, and kidney. Don’t forget that secondhand smoke is dangerous, too. If you live with a smoker, your risk for these types of cancers increases as well.
- Limit alcohol consumption: According to the National Cancer Institute, consuming too much alcohol can increase your risk for a variety of cancers. These include cancer of the neck and head, as well as esophageal, colorectal, breast, and liver cancers. If you aren’t sure how much alcohol is too much, talk with your primary care physician. They can help you determine what your limit should be.
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