February is Cancer Prevention Month. It’s been found that only about 5% of cancer cases are hereditary, meaning the rest are influenced by lifestyle choices. Data shows 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women being diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes in the United States; the World Health Organization states about ⅓ of all cases are preventable. We can help change the statistics by being proactive in helping to prevent some of these cancer risks we all face. Some simple tips and being aware of what to look out for can drastically improve our odds.
- Pay attention to environmental hazards
In the natural world around us and products we may use without thought, we’re regularly interacting with potentially dangerous toxins. Asbestos is one example of a lesser thought of toxin, which can be found naturally in the environment or in various products, like car parts, construction materials, and even potting soil. This carcinogen is the only known cause of mesothelioma cancer, and no level of exposure is considered safe, so awareness is key for prevention.
Our tap water is also full of common carcinogens like arsenic, chromium and other chemicals that come from disinfecting–one town even found asbestos in their drinking water! By using a filtration system of some kind, we can greatly reduce our exposure to these chemicals. Unfortunately, the list of dangerous exposures we face can go on and on. As consumers, there are so many simple steps we can take to reduce our risk and lead healthier lives.
We hear this all the time, so it’s an easy tip to roll our eyes at. But exercise is truly a key to living a healthy life for so many reasons! Links have been found between physical activity reducing the risk of various types of cancer, like colorectal and lung. Just 30 minutes a day, 5 times each week can make a big difference in our risk level; with some exercise, we can be 20% less likely to develop lung cancer, and 30-40% less likely to develop colon cancer! Anything from walking your dog, dancing around the house, or getting on the treadmill can help keep you cancer free.
- Adopt better eating habits
Can you hear your mom’s voice in your head telling you to eat your vegetables? Well, she has a point! The processed foods we sometimes love to snack on are often full of carcinogens. Studies have shown fruits and vegetables help prevent many kinds of cancers, especially items like broccoli and kale. Having a plant based meal means you’re filling your body with more nutrients and fiber, which help combat cancer. And as much as you might love a juicy burger, the AICR recommends cutting back red meat to about 18 ounces each week and avoiding processed meats.
It doesn’t have to take a lot of effort on our parts to make lasting changes in our lives. Educating ourselves and loved ones is the first step to preventing a large number of cancers. Being aware of our actions and the world around us could save so many lives. So this Cancer Prevention Month, take some steps to limit your risk and help change the statistics!