As you start to age, you’ll probably wonder about your risk of getting cancer and how susceptible you are to it. These concerns are very well founded. According to the National Cancer Program, 41% of Americans will battle cancer at some point in their life. And incredibly, cancer claims the lives of about 550,000 Americans every year. That’s about 2% of the American population dying annually – not 2% of all deaths, but 2% of all Americans!
The causes of cancer are myriad and can be tough to track down for any one person. Some causes – genetics – are beyond your control. But there is still plenty you can do to reduce your risk of cancer and ensure that you don’t become a statistic. Here are the eight best ways to ward off cancer and enjoy a long life.
• Don’t smoke. Tobacco is the number one preventable cause of death in America. Smoking can lead to bladder, cervix, and kidney cancer, in addition to its deadliest consequence, lung cancer. Quitting smoking will lower your risk of cancer and has many other health benefits as well.
• Eat a healthy diet. In addition to the usual advice about fruits and vegetables, this also means moderating your use of alcohol, which can greatly increase your risk of liver, kidney, and colon cancer. An occasional drink can be healthy for you, but excessive drinking is harmful. Also try to avoid fatty foods, since obesity will increase your cancer risk and eat lots of fiber to keep the colon clean.
• Exercise, exercise, exercise. Because obesity puts you at greater risk from cancer, you’ll want to make sure you get in your half-hour workout every day. Exercise is proving to be beneficial for many other aging diseases, too.
• Protect yourself from the sun. This is crucial especially if you have fair skin. Just one severe sunburn can put you at greater risk of skin cancer later in life. Apply sunscreen generously and always opt for a higher SPF level when you can. If you expect to be exposed to the sun for a long time, especially at the beach or the pool where the rays reflect off the water, always wear a hat and sunglasses. Try to avoid prolonged exposure. On beach trips, you might spend an hour playing on the sand, then take some time off under an umbrella or tent. Obviously you should avoid tanning beds at all costs.
• Get immunized. Two diseases greatly increase your cancer risk. The first is Hepatitis B, which puts you at risk of liver cancer. The second is Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which is the leading cause, if not the sole cause, of cervical cancer. Both of these diseases are sexually transmitted. You should make sure you get vaccinated against both, particularly if you’re sexually active.
• Avoid risky behaviors. If in any doubt, make sure your sexual partner has been tested for sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV, Hepatitis B, and HPV. Limit the number of sexual partners you have. These diseases can also be transmitted through needles, so make sure you never share needles (pick up sterile ones from an American drug store before you travel off the beaten track) and of course, don’t abuse any drugs, legal or illegal.
• Get those screenings! These are absolutely crucial to catching metastasizing cancer cells before it’s too late. If you’re over the age of 50, don’t put off these screenings for another day.
• Avoid stress: To tamp down your cancer risk, try to avoid stress. This is very controversial among scientists who have yet to establish a firm link between cancer and stress. But given the number of adverse effects that occur when stress hormones are released into the body, it’s certainly possible if not likely that this link exists. Several studies have shown that cancer accelerates after the death of a spouse or loved one. Exercise, proper sleep, and meditation will all help you avoid burdensome stress levels.
This handy reminder list is extracted from the Independent Living News manual “Establishing Your Medical Self-Reliance. How to safeguard your health in the age of Obamacare, medical rationing, and worsening care. To learn more about this life-saving and life-enhancing publication, please click here.