Just imagine if you were able to stop cancer before it even came knocking on your door. What if I told you that you could. Experts say the majority of cancers in the South Africa are preventable, and that simply making healthy lifestyle choices can reduce the risk of developing many forms of the disease.
These daily do’s and don’ts may sound familiar, but the evidence is strong that following these steps each day can help keep you cancer-free down the road.
1. KEEPING A HEALTHY WEIGHT: You probably know obesity can lead to many health conditions like heart disease and diabetes, but you may not be aware it also increases the risk for several kinds of cancer, including colon and breast cancer. Experts think fatty tissue may disturb the balance of certain hormones, which can lead to the development of tumors. If you are overweight or obese, don’t wait to start a safe weight loss program. Reducing your waistline means reducing your cancer risk, too.
2. EATING HEALTHY FOOD: Eating plenty of fruit and non-starchy vegetables (think broccoli, spinach, carrots, cucumbers) may protect against oral, esophageal and stomach cancer, and fruit may also protect against lung cancer. Stay away from processed meats like most hot dogs, bacon and lunchmeats, which raise your risk of colorectal cancer. The link between cancer and red meat like beef, veal and lamb is less clear, but for several health reasons, it’s better to keep the amount of red meat you eat to about 18 ounces per week.
3. BEING ACTIVE: There is convincing evidence that physical activity lowers the risk of colon and breast cancer. Staying active may also reduce the chance of prostate, lung, and endometrial (lining of the uterus) cancer. Shoot for 30 minutes a day, five days a week of moderate activity or 20 minutes, three times a week of vigorous activity or exercise.
4. NOT SMOKING: If you stop using tobacco, your risk drops, no matter how old you are or how much you use. There is no safe level of smoke, whether it’s from cigarettes, pipes, or even secondhand. Using tobacco is a risk factor for many other types of cancer too, including leukemia, bladder, kidney and pancreatic cancer. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you do, ask your doctor about ways to help you quit for good.
5. MODERATE ALCOHOL DRINKING: You may have heard red wine lowers your risk of getting cancer, but there’s no scientific basis for the claim. In fact, heavy drinking increases your chances of developing oral, throat, and esophageal cancers as well as liver, breast, and colorectal cancers. The more you drink, the higher your risk. If you drink, keep your alcohol consumption moderate: up to two drinks a day for men and up to one drink a day for women.