Unfortunately, cancer rates are on the rise and this scary disease has touched most of us in some way or another. For me this is a very personal subject. I was diagnosed with cancer 4 years ago and it was a terrifying experience to say the least. And although this diagnosis rocked me, it also pushed me to educate myself and set me off on a journey to learn more about healthy living. Fortunately for me this is a distant memory, but how can I keep my risk low and prevent any future issues? Here are a few of the tips I learned along the way.
- Limit your exposure to environmental factors
We live in a world surrounded by plastics, chemicals, car exhaust and factories. How do we keep our exposure to these substances at a minimum? One of the easiest ways is by starting in your home. Choosing natural products such as real wood, instead of laminate, carpet or plastic can decrease the amount of VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) you are exposed to. Having radon and carbon monoxide detectors. Also, choosing BPA free water bottles and tupperwear. Check out this article to learn a few ways to decrease the amount of indoor air pollution, Is the air in your home polluted. It has been proven that exposure to these chemicals over time, increases your risk of lung and breast cancer.
2. Maintain a Healthy Diet
As Hippocrates once said, “Let food by thy medicine.” Now I believe this to be an absolute truth. What we put into our bodies directly results in how our bodies function and how resistant to disease we may be. However, in our current world, our food sources have become tainted with pesticides and GMO’s (thanks Monsanto). Try to avoid chemically laden foods by buying organic whenever possible. Also, avoid processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and processed meat. Eat fruits and vegetable that are in season, when their nutrient content is at its highest. It is believed that some foods can help stop cancer in its tracks. Such examples are broccoli, berries, spinach, carrots, and garlic. They are high in antioxidants, helping to build your immune system and thus creating a defense against most cancers.
Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight. Research shows that obesity increases your risk of colorectal and breast cancer. A minimum of 30 minutes of exercise daily has shown to increase energy levels, reduce stress and strengthen overall health and wellbeing. Recent studies have shown that activity decreases your risk for many types of cancer.
4. Protect your skin from the sun
We all know that sun exposure can cause wrinkles and signs of early aging. But it is also a big risk factor for skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. Avoid sun exposure when rays are at their most intense 10am-2pm, use sunscreen, and use skin protective clothing (sun shirts and hats). Dermatologists recommend and SFP 30 for most people. Making sure to apply 20 minutes before sun exposure, even on those cloudy days. This is one of the most preventable types of cancer. So, go on slather on that sunscreen, your skin will thank you and it could save you a fortune in botox.
5. Schedule Regular Cancer Screening
By detecting cancer or precancerous symptoms early it can be a much more treatable disease or even prevented. There are various types of screening options available. Here are the most common screenings.
- Mammograms yearly starting at age 40
- Monthly self-breast exams
- Pap test with HPV testing when sexually active
- Skin checks yearly by a dermatologist
- Colonoscopy at age 50
- Prostate exam at age 50
With approximately 40% of Americans being diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, it is more important than ever to protect ourselves. Now this isn’t meant to scare you, just to make you more aware that we play a major factor in our own health. We can all take steps to lessen our likelihood of being part of the statistics. The best cancer treatment starts with prevention.