To reduce cancer risks, such as breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer and lung cancer, science has already clued us in to a few things we should avoid, such as smoking and overexposure to the sun. But today, thanks to new medical discoveries, there are even more steps we can take to help avoid it completely!
Risk 1: Obesity
Being overweight or obese is a known cancer cause. In fact, excess weight is linked to an increased risk for developing more than a dozen types of cancer, including breast and pancreatic cancers. The American Cancer Society stresses the need to keep your weight in check by, first, eating right:
- Eat a diet that’s limited in processed foods and red meat, five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day and whole grains.
- Limit your alcohol intake to one drink per day for women or two for men.
Risk 2: Lack of Exercise
Diet alone usually isn’t enough to maintain a healthy body and cut your cancer risk. So, pick an activity that suits your level of fitness and get moving.
- Adults should be physically active for at least 30 minutes on five or more days a week.
- Children should engage in physical play for at least 60 minutes five days per week.
Risk 3: Infection
Infections from viruses, bacteria, and parasites are a known cancer risk in up to 20 percent of all cancers. Several of those viruses are sexually transmitted, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
You can reduce your risk for getting these types of viruses by using condoms during sex. Women can reduce their risk of cancer from HPV by getting a vaccine. In fact, the American Cancer Society now recommends the HPV vaccine for girls who are nine and older.
Risk 4: Chemical Exposure
A variety of substances found in common products are known to be a cancer cause. Two of particular interest:
- Asbestos, a fibrous substance, is found in many older buildings where it was used as insulation and as a fire-retardant; inhaling it can cause cancer. So be sure to have your home checked for asbestos before beginning any sort of renovation. Carpenters and other skilled workers who deal with remodeling older homes should investigate proper safety precautions before working in buildings that contain asbestos.
- Tetrachloroethylene is a solvent used in dry cleaning. While wearing dry-cleaned clothes isn’t considered dangerous, those who work in a dry cleaning business should change clothes after work, wash work clothes regularly, and keep their food out of the work area.
Risk 5: Consumer Products
Antiperspirants, talcum powder, hair dye, aspartame, and some cosmetics have all been reported as possible cancer causes, often incorrectly. The truth is that there is no conclusive evidence that any of these products cause cancer. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to monitor various studies and issues periodic updates.
In addition to steering clear of the above five potential cancer causers, be sure to stay away from two of the deadliest ones, smoking and sun exposure:
Smoking: Tobacco kills, and is one of the top causes of cancer. Smoking can damage almost every organ in your body and is a known cause of at least 15 different types of cancer. Remember that the risks for cancer aren’t limited to cigarettes – cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and the smokelesss tobacco called snuff are all linked to cancer. Secondhand smoke is, too.
Sun Overexposure: About one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States and most are sun related. Melanoma, the most serious skin cancer, can be fatal – while Blacks don’t get this as often, we still tend to die from it in much higher numbers when we do get it. Remember – just because our skin tends to be darker doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be protected. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, embrace the shade, wear protective clothing and protect your eyes with sunglasses that have 99 percent UV absorption – even on cloudy days.
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