Lifestyle Choices That Might Help Lower Your Cancer Risk
Many of us make a New Year’s resolution to eat better, to exercise faithfully, and to live a healthier life. By the end of January, however, it’s easy for these good intentions to be forgotten or neglected. Spring is a good time to try again.
Research shows that your lifestyle impacts how well you age and how long you live—even more so than genetics do.
Lifestyle Modifications to Reduce Your Cancer Risk
Leading factors that influence your risk of developing cancer include family history, diet, and physical activity. While you can’t change your genetics to lower your risk for cancer, you can make other changes.
- Plant-based diet: A diet of fruits and vegetables is one way to lower your risk of some forms of cancer, including colorectal, breast, uterine, mouth, and stomach cancers. Try to plan menus that contain at least 2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables every day.
- Get moving: Most of us understand that physical activity is good for controlling our weight, maintaining heart health, and lowering the risk of diabetes. But exercise can also help lower your risk for many forms of cancer, including breast, colon, and endometrial cancers. Talk with your physician for advice about what types and how much exercise you should strive for each week.
- Stop smoking: Smoking damages more than just your lungs. In fact, the American Cancer Society says it is linked to nearly 30 percent of all U.S. cancer deaths every year. Besides lung cancer, smoking also increases your risk of mouth, throat, kidney, stomach, and pancreatic cancers. It’s also important to remember that secondhand smoke is equally deadly. If you live with a smoker, encourage them to smoke outside. Limiting your exposure to secondhand smoke can lower your risk of cancer.
- Limit or avoid red and processed meats: The American Institute for Cancer Research says consuming too much processed meat, such as hot dogs, sausage, and lunch meat, increases your risk of colorectal cancer. The institute’s research shows that the risk of colorectal cancer increases by 16 percent for every 50 grams of processed meat eaten in a day—equal to just one hot dog. Researchers also say that you can lower your risk by consuming leaner protein sources like fish, turkey, and chicken.
- Avoid toxic chemicals: Many of us don’t realize how many toxic chemicals and unhealthy substances we encounter in our daily lives. While we can’t often change our environmental risk, we can all be more aware of some of the dangers. A few ways to reduce your exposure to toxic chemicals are looking for a dry cleaner that uses environmentally-friendly materials and cleaning practices, using natural methods to control weeds in your garden instead of pesticides and herbicides, and opting for organic cleaning products in your home.
Looking for more ideas for living your best life? Visit our Elder Care Resources and Information page. You can learn more about topics such as eating right, managing blood pressure, hearing loss, and more.