Cancer is one of the leading killers in the developed world, accounting for nearly 1 in every 4 deaths. Research on diseases up to the mid-19th century has shown that cancer was once a rare occurrence; today, however, it is rare to find someone who doesn’t have a relative or loved one who is or has been affected by it.
While a number of different factors have played a part in the fact that cancer has become so widespread in our society today, one of the main culprits is the drastic way our way of life has changed.
We’ve gone from eating natural foods that we grew ourselves or hunted to eating highly processed food that rarely resembles its original state. We’ve also gone from an active lifestyle working long hours on our feet to a sedentary lifestyle doing more and more from our comfortable desk chairs.
According to the American Cancer Society, roughly one-third of all cancer deaths could have been prevented by making a number of simple lifestyle changes.
Although most of us are well-aware of the dangers of smoking and excessive exposure to UV radiation, there are a number of other things that can be just as bad for our health but don’t receive nearly as much attention.
Following are some important lifestyle changes that you should be making this year to reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day
Most of us don’t get nearly enough physical activity by simply going about our daily routine, which means that it’s important to set time aside to exercise. Research has shown that regular exercise can greatly reduce your risk of developing cancer by optimizing insulin and leptin levels
Specifically, exercise is known to reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer, and of course, it has many other benefits as well.
Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, whether it’s brisk walking, running, cycling or another form of exercise. The more you can manage the better, but start out with a realistic goal that you know you can achieve—like 30 to 40 minute sessions.
Limit your intake of red and processed meat
Studies have found a link between bowel cancer and the consumption of red and processed meat. Those who eat more red or processed meat have a higher risk of developing bowel cancer than those who stick to lean white meats or fish.
Red meat includes beef, lamb and pork, while processed meat can refer to anything from sausages or chicken nuggets to salami and hams.
Try to eat red meat only once or twice a week, and never more than 70 grams per day. For alternatives to red meat, try chicken, fish and turkey, or even have a few meatless days where you eat legumes, eggs or a meat substitute like tofu.
Eat more fiber
A diet that is high in fiber will reduce your risk of bowel cancer by keeping your bowels healthy and preventing constipation. To get more fiber in your diet, substitute white bread, pasta and rice with whole wheat instead.
Consuming pulses and certain fruits and vegetables like carrots, avocado, spinach, apples and berries is also a good way to ensure that you are getting enough fiber.
Follow a well-balanced diet
A bad diet can be the cause of many types of cancer and one of the best ways to reduce your risk is to give your diet an overhaul.
Cut processed, sugary and high-fat foods from your diet and make sure you are getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, beans and healthy protein.
One of the easiest ways to improve your diet in a short amount of time is to start preparing your own meals from scratch and avoid anything that is pre-made or that contains ingredients you cannot easily identify.
Watch your weight
Being overweight can increase the risk of many cancers such as pancreatic, esophageal, breast, bowel, womb and kidney cancer. Use a BMI calculator to figure out whether or not you are at your ideal weight and work towards maintaining and achieving that weight by exercising and eating right.
Monitor your alcohol intake
Excessive alcohol consumption can increase your risk of mouth, larynx, colorectal, liver and breast cancer. Generally, men are advised against drinking more than 3 to 4 units of alcohol a day while for women the recommendation is 2 to 3 units.
Limit stress and take time out to relax on a regular basis
Research has shown that high levels of stress can prevent a certain gene from suppressing tumor growth. If you often find yourself in stressful situations either at home or at work, try to determine ways in which you can avoid or reduce those encounters.
De-stressing activities such as yoga, deep breathing or listening to music can also help you to manage stress more effectively.
Improve your home’s ventilation
Radon is a natural decay of uranium that happens in soil and rock. It isn’t visible to the human eye and does not produce any smell. Radon is responsible for 20,000 lung cancer cases each year, and is often found in ordinary homes, especially in basements and other badly ventilated areas.
Ventilating your home more efficiently can prevent radon-related illnesses. Speak to a certified contractor to find a way to improve the ventilation in your home.
About the Author:Aileen Pablo is a health and fitness blogger from Open Colleges,one of the leading providers of dietician courses. Aside from blogging about food and nutrition, Aileen is also fond of writing topics about education, business, and interior design. If you want to feature her on your blog, drop a line at aileen (at) oc.edu.au.