Cancer Prevention Tips
Healthy Lifestyle Choices can significantly lower your cancer risk.
Here are tips to help you lower your risks for cancer.
Did you know...?
1. As many as 70% of known causes of cancers are avoidable and related to people's lifestyles.
2. Breast Cancer Herbal Tips - A tart and juicy cranberry comes loaded with breast cancer-fighting compounds, say scientists studying these dark red berries. After injecting mice with one million human breast cancer cells each, they found that cranberry-supplemented mice resisted the cancer up to 57 percent longer and had half as many tumors spread to lungs and lymph nodes. Best advice: Cranberry solids were even more protective than juice in this study, so choose whole-berry relish.
3. All types of tobacco put you on a collision course with cancer. Rejecting tobacco, or deciding to stop using it, is one of the most important health decisions you can make. It's also an important part of cancer prevention. If you don't smoke, avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Being around others who are smoking may increase your risk of cancer.
4. Though making healthy selections at the grocery store and at mealtime can't guarantee you won't get cancer, it may help reduce your risk.
The American Cancer Society recommends that you:
Eat an abundance of foods from plant-based sources. Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day. In addition, eat other foods from plant sources, such as whole grains and beans, several times a day. Replacing high-calorie foods in your diet with fruits and vegetables may help you lose weight or maintain your weight. A diet high in fruits and vegetables has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer.
Limit fat. Eat lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-fat foods, particularly those from animal sources. High-fat diets tend to be higher in calories and may increase the risk of overweight or obesity, which can, in turn, increase cancer risk.
Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all. Your risk of cancers, including mouth, throat, esophagus, kidney, liver and breast cancers, increases with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you've been drinking regularly. Even a moderate amount of drinking — two drinks a day if you're a man or one drink a day if you're a woman, and one drink a day regardless of your sex if you're over 65 — may increase your risk. Drink Lightly, If At All - Another reason to pass on another glass of wine - New data from the National Cancer Institute shows that women who have one or two drinks daily increase the risk of the most common kind of breast cancer by 32%--and those who drink more hike their risk by 51%. Experts recommend no more than a glass a day.Filter Your Tap Water – You will reduce your exposure to known or suspected carcinogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals. A new report from the President’s Cancer Panel on How to reduce expose to carcinogens suggests home filtered Tap Water is safer than bottled water, whose quality is not higher and in some cases worse! Some of the top rated filtered to get rated by the consumers reports were Brita OPFF100, Pur Vertical and Culigan. Store water in stainless steel or glass to avoid chemical contaminants such as BPA that can leach from plastic bottles.
So say the EPA and the President’s Cancer Panel: Pumping one last squirt of gas into your car after the nozzle clicks off can spill fuel and foil the pump’s vapor recovery system, designed to keep toxic chemicals such as cancer-causing benzene out of the air, where they can come in contact with your skin or get into your lungs.
Processed, charred, and well-done meats can contain cancer-causing heterocyclic amines, which form when meat is seared at high temperatures, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which get into food when it’s charcoal broiled. “The recommendation to cut down on grilled meat has really solid scientific evidence behind it,” says Cheryl Lyn Walker, PhD, a professor of carcinogenesis at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. If you do grill, add rosemary and thyme to your favorite marinade and soak meat for at least an hour before cooking. The antioxidant-rich spices can cut HCAs by as much as 87%, according to research at Kansas State University.
Caffeinate every day - Java lovers who drank 5 or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 40% decreased risk of brain cancer, compared with people who drank the least, in a 2010 British study. A 5-cup-a-day coffee habit reduces risks of oral and throat cancer almost as much. Researchers credit the caffeine: Decaf had no comparable effect. But coffee was a more potent protector against these cancers than tea, which the British researchers said also offered protection against brain cancer
Water down your cancer risk - Drinking plenty of water and other liquids may reduce the risk of bladder cancer by diluting the concentration of cancer-causing agents in urine and helping to flush them through the bladder faster. Drink at least 8 cups of liquid a day, suggests the American Cancer
Load up on the greens - Next time you are choosing salad fixings, reach for the darkest varieties. The chlorophyll that gives them their color is loaded with magnesium, which some large studies have found lowers the risk of colon cancer in women. “Magnesium affects signaling in cells, and without the right amount, cells may do things like divide and replicate when they shouldn’t,” says Walker. Just 1/2 cup of cooked spinach provides 75 mg of magnesium, 20% of the daily value.
Snack on Brazil nuts - They are a stellar source of selenium, an antioxidant that lowers the risk of bladder cancer in women, according to research from Dartmouth Medical School. Other studies have found that people with high blood levels of selenium have lower rates of dying of lung cancer and colorectal cancer. Researchers think selenium not only protects cells from free radical damage but also may enhance immune function and suppress formation of blood vessels that nourish tumors.
Burn off your breast cancer risk - Moderate exercise such as brisk walking 2 hours a week cuts risk of breast cancer 18%. Regular workouts may lower your risks by helping you burn fat, which otherwise produces its own estrogen, a known contributor to breast cancer.
Keep Moving - You are never too old to start working out "Exercise lowers levels of estrogen, which is linked to breast cancer." It is best to get 45 to 60 minutes of heart-thumping activity most days of the week, but moderate levels (30 minutes, 5 days a week) can make a difference. You are never too old: A recent study in the British Medical Journal showed that postmenopausal women (along with those with a normal body mass index, or BMI) get more of a benefit from regular sweat sessions than other women.
Get--and Stay--Slim - Drop pounds for cancer prevention - After menopause, obese women have double the risk of breast cancer compared with women of a healthy weight. But weight gain among previously trim women also bodes ill. "Gaining even 20 pounds of weight as an adult increases risk," says Heather Spencer Feigelson, PhD, MPH, strategic director of genetic epidemiology at the ACS.
Skip the dry cleaner - A solvent known as perc (short for perchloroethylene) that is used in traditional dry cleaning may cause liver and kidney cancers and leukemia, according to an EPA finding backed in early 2010 by the National Academies of Science. The main dangers are to workers who handle chemicals or treated clothes using older machines, although experts have not concluded that consumers are also at increased cancer risk. Less toxic alternatives: Hand-wash clothes with mild soap and air-dry them, spot cleaning if necessary with white vinegar.
Ask your doc about breast density - Women whose mammograms have revealed breast density readings of 75% or more have a breast cancer risk 4 to 5 times higher than that of women with low density scores, according to recent research. One theory is that denser breasts result from higher levels of estrogen—making exercise particularly important. “Shrinking your body fat also changes growth factors, signaling proteins such as adipokines and hormones like insulin in ways that tend to turn off cancer-promoting processes in cells.
Head off cell phone risks - Use your cell phone only for short calls or texts, or use a hands-free device that keeps the phone—and the radio frequency energy it emits—away from your head. The point is more to preempt any risk than to protect against a proven danger: Evidence that cell phones increase brain cancer risk is “neither consistent nor conclusive,” says the President’s Cancer Panel report. Nevertheless, a number of review studies suggest there is a link.
Block skin cancer with color - Choosing your outdoor outfit intelligently may help protect against skin cancer, say Spanish scientists. In their research, blue and red fabrics offered significantly better protection against the sun’s UV rays than white and yellow ones did. Do not forget to put on a hat. Though melanoma can appear anywhere on the body, it’s more common in areas the sun hits, and researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found that people with melanomas on the scalp or neck die at almost twice the rate of people with the cancer on other areas of the body.
Pick a Doctor with lots of Experience—lots of it—is critical when it comes to accurately reading mammograms. A study from the University of California, San Francisco, found that doctors with at least 25 years' experience were more accurate at interpreting images and less likely to give false positives. Ask about your radiologist's track record. If she is freshly minted or doesn't check a high volume of mammograms, get a second read from someone with more mileage.
Eat clean foods The President’s Cancer Panel recommends buying meat free of antibiotics and added hormones, which are suspected of causing endocrine problems, including cancer. The report also advises that you purchase produce grown without pesticides and wash conventionally grown food thoroughly to remove residues. (The foods with the most pesticides: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, and blueberries. “At least 40 known carcinogens are found in pesticides and we should absolutely try to reduce exposure.
Read food labels for folic acid - The B vitamin, essential for women who may become or are pregnant to prevent birth defects, is a double-edged sword when it comes to cancer risk. Consuming too much of the synthetic form (not folate, found in leafy green veggies, orange juice, and other foods) has been linked to increased colon cancer risk, as well as higher lung cancer and prostate cancer risks. Rethink your multivitamin, especially if you eat a lot of cereal and fortified foods. A recent CDC study discovered that half of supplement users who took supplements with more than 400 mcg of folic acid exceeded 1,000 mcg per day of folic acid. Most supplements pack 400 mcg. Individual supplements (of vitamin D and calcium, for instance) may be a smarter choice for most women who are not thinking of having kids.
Pay attention to pain - If you are experiencing a bloated belly, pelvic pain, and an urgent need to urinate, see your doctor. These symptoms may signal ovarian cancer, particularly if they are severe and frequent. Women and physicians often ignore these symptoms, and that is the very reason that this disease can be deadly. When caught early, before cancer has spread outside the ovary, the relative 5-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is a jaw-dropping 90 to 95%.
Avoid unnecessary scans - CT scans are a great diagnostic tool, but they deliver much more radiation than x-rays and may be overused, says Barton Kamen, MD, PhD, chief medical officer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. In fact, researchers suggest that one-third of CT scans could be unnecessary. High doses of radiation can trigger leukemia, so make sure scans are not repeated if you see multiple doctors, and ask if another test, such as an ultrasound or MRI, could substitute.
Drop 10 pounds - Being overweight or obese accounts for 20% of all cancer deaths among women and 14% among men, notes the American Cancer Society. (You are overweight if your body mass index is between 25 and 29.9; you are obese if it is 30 or more. In addition, losing excess pounds reduces the body's production of female hormones, which may protect against breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and ovarian cancer. Even if you are not technically overweight, gaining just 10 pounds after the age of 30 increases your risk of developing breast, pancreatic, and cervical, among other cancers.
Take Vitamin D - Swallow this supplement to stop cancer in its tracks - More and more studies demonstrate the cancer-fighting power of this vitamin . The latest piece of evidence, reported at the recent meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists: Breast cancer patients who were deficient in vitamin D were 94% more likely to have their cancer spread than women with adequate D levels. "I advise women to take 800 to 1,000 IU a day," says Andrew Kaunitz, MD, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Florida College of Medicine-Jacksonville.
Keep Hormones Temporary - Consider safer alternatives - Long-term use of HT can increase breast cancer risk, the Women's Health Initiative demonstrated--and new research shows the heightened risk persists several years after you stop. Take hormones only if menopausal symptoms are unmanageable, and limit time on the therapy to no more than 5 years. Consider alternatives, such as SSRI antidepressants for hot flashes and vaginal creams with estrogen for dry genital tissues.
Cancer fighting drinks for your body - Green tea is rich in compounds called polyphenols, including catechins (and particularly EGCG), which reduce the growth of new blood vessels that feed tumors. It's also a powerful antioxidant and detoxifier (activating enzymes in the liver that eliminate toxins from the body), and it encourages cancer cell death. In the laboratory, it has even been shown to increase the effect of radiation on cancer cells. Japanese green tea (sencha, gyokuro, matcha, etc.) contains more EGCG than common varieties of Chinese green tea making it the most potent source on the market; look in Asian groceries and tea shops. Black and oolong teas, commonly used to produce popular tea blends such as Earl Grey, are less effective because they've been fermented, which destroys a large proportion of their polyphenols. Decaffeinated green teas, which retain the polyphenols despite the process of decaffeination, are also an option if you're sensitive to caffeine. How to Drink It: Sip 2 to 3 cups a day within an hour of brewing. Green tea must be steeped for at least 5 to 8 minutes--ideally 10--to release its catechins, but it loses its beneficial polyphenols after an hour or two.
Pomegranate Juice - This juice, which tastes like raspberries, has been used in Persian medicine for thousands of years. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are well confirmed; studies show it can substantially reduce the development of even the most aggressive prostate cancers (among others). In addition, drinking it daily slows the spread of an established prostate cancer by more than 50%. Have 8 ounces daily with breakfast.
Two Tumor-Tackling Spices - Fresh ginger, or gingerroot, is a powerful anti-inflammatory that combats certain cancer cells and helps slow tumor growth. A ginger infusion can also alleviate nausea from chemotherapy or radiotherapy. How to Use It: Add grated fresh ginger to a vegetable stir-fry or fruit salad. Or, make an infusion by slicing a 1-inch piece of ginger and steeping it in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes; drink hot or cold.
Two Tumor-Tackling Spices - Turmeric Found in curry powder, this spice is the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory available today. It encourages cancer cell death, inhibits tumor growth, and even enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy. Some research shows that turmeric is most effective in humans when it's mixed with black pepper and dissolved in oil (olive or canola, preferably). In store-bought curry mixes, turmeric represents only 20% of the total, so it's better to obtain ground turmeric directly from a spice shop. How to Use It: Mix a teaspoon of turmeric powder with a teaspoon of olive oil and a generous pinch of ground black pepper and add to vegetables, soups, and salad dressings. Use a tablespoon if you already have cancer.