Cancer is the number 2 leading cause of death globally taking the lives of millions of people every year. The rising number of cancer-related deaths is due to the fact that most cancers start to exhibit symptoms in the late stages.
This means that, by the time most cancer patients find out they have cancer, the disease has advanced making it much harder to treat and manage. Here are some everyday habits that can reduce your cancer risk.
Owing to the fact that the exact cause of cancer is not known, the disease is difficult to prevent. However, there are things you can do reduce your risk of developing the disease. These include:
Smoking is a risk factor for several cancers including lung cancer which is one of the most common cancers killing over 2 million people every year, globally. The smoke produced by cigarettes contains cancer causing substances which damage normal body tissue increasing the risk of developing cancer. If you smoke, stop and if you don’t, do not start. If it is difficult to stop, you should seek help because quitting smoking is one of the best health decisions you will ever make as it leads to many health complications not just cancer.
Being a second-hand smoker is no good either; long-term exposure to cigarette smoke puts you at a high risk of getting cancer.
- Watching your alcohol intake:
Heavy drinking increases significantly your risk of liver, throat, oesophageal and colorectal cancer, among other cancers. If you drink, do it moderately; one drink for women and up to two drinks for men.
Processed meat such as bacon and sausages contain compounds like nitrates and when heated can produce nitrosamines – carcinogens that can increase the risk of certain cancers like colorectal cancer. Eat a healthy diet rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grain foods and avoid processed foods and red meat.
Unprotected sex and/or engaging in sex with multiple sexual partners is risky because apart from HIV, it increases your risk of getting Human Papillomavirus (HPV) which is a risk factor for certain cancers such as cervical cancer, oral cancer and anal cancer. Ensure you use protection always and if not, make certain you and your partner have first gone through the necessary tests before engaging in sex.
- Protecting yourself from exposure to toxic chemicals:
Exposure to certain chemicals like radon and asbestos can increase lung cancer risk. This is applicable especially for people who live in polluted areas or in factories that release harmful substances into the environment. Avoid living in polluted areas if you can and use protected gear if you work in factories.
The sun is great because it provides vitamin D, which is crucial for our bodies; however, too much of it can be harmful. Avoid direct contact with sun rays by applying sunscreen every time you go out in the day and/or wearing hats and clothes that cover your arms and legs.
- Avoid using tanning beds:
Tanning beds expose you to ultraviolet light which is a risk factor for cancers like melanoma which is the deadliest form of skin cancer. Do not use tanning beds.
Exercising regularly can reduce your risk of certain cancers like endometrial cancer, and cancers of the colon, kidney and liver, among other cancers.
Apart from helping to reduce the risk of cancer a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your risk of several other diseases including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and even mental health conditions that are preventable.