Tips to Protect Yourself During Cancer Prevention Month

by Emily Liptak, MAA Center

How to Protect Yourself This Prevention Month

Cancer Prevention Month

Cancer is a difficult word to hear, often associated with strenuous battles and unpredictable times ahead. February is Cancer Prevention Month, a time to learn how to treat your body better in hopes to prevent this disease from impacting yourself and your loved ones.

Many Cancers are carried through genetics or are hereditary. Few have been directly linked to specific causes. Nevertheless, there are a still number of cancers that may be caused by environmental or physical factors, and there are strategies you can implement to lower your risk of diagnosis. This may seem daunting, each step is generally simple and only takes small changes in your daily routine to increase your hopes of a long and healthy life.

Eat

Making small changes in your diet could make a big impact on your overall wellness. These changes aren’t guaranteed to prevent cancer but it may help in reducing your risk. A good way to improve any diet is by including more fruit, vegetables, and whole grains into your nutritional plan. These foods are filled with antioxidants, which assist in fighting free radicals, and can aid in reducing inflammation that is believed to be one cause in the growth of cancer cells. Fortunately, if you are a coffee drinker, you might have unknowingly been helping your fight against this disease, as coffee beans are filled with antioxidants. If you’re looking for new foods to add to your diet here are just a few that may make a big difference down the line:

Garlic
● Cinnamon
● Leafy greens (ex kale)
● Cruciferous greens (ex. cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy)
● Berries
● Tomatoes
● Apples
● Red Onions

In general, staying lean by avoiding refined sugars and high caloric foods will help reduce your risk of obesity. There are several studies that believe obesity and cancer may be linked. Of course, it’s important to be mindful of what we eat, but knowing associated benefits include cancer prevention is yet another reason to attempt this lifestyle change.

Move

There is a large amount of evidence that proves the more physically active you achieve, the more likely you are to have a lower risk of cancer and countless other health implications. Simply put, physical activity is imperative to better health and overall prevention. For instance, research is showing that more physically active women have a lower likelihood of breast cancer.. For example, fitness aids in lowering the amount of hormones, like estrogen, that have been associated with cancer growth. Fitness also lowers the rate of obesity, and can also help decrease inflammation, which have both been linked to cancer cell development. 

Exercise


Trying to move your body every day is an important step that shouldn’t be ignored. It seems easy these days to stay in your office chair, or be too tired after work to head to the gym. There are easy ways to get your body moving, like going for a walk with a coworker during lunch or spending some time in the morning on the elliptical while responding to emails.

Breathe 

If you are still on the smoking bandwagon, it may finally be time to take your health into your own hands and stop. This is the most vital step when it comes to lung health. “Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer in the world causing 22% of cancer deaths,” according to dosomething.org. Other than smoking, there are other lesser-known risks when it comes to breathing. Take the time to teach yourself what you may unknowingly be inhaling, and how to prevent this from occurring.

Completing a home inspection is important when considering your health and the wellbeing of those you live with. There are a number of home materials and products that may put you at risk for cancer. Asbestos is a building material that was heavily used between the 1930s to the 1970s due to its durability and fire resistance. Although it is a known carcinogen and proven to cause cancer of the lungs known as pleural mesothelioma, it is still utilized in some parts of the world and historic uses has this toxin unknowingly hidden across countless buildings and borders. To assist in the cancer prevention process, hire an inspector to check your home for asbestos and always be wary of what could lurk behind closed walls before attempting any remodeling or DIY projects.

Radon is another threat you may be facing within your home. Around 20,000 lung cancer deaths a year can be associated with exposure to this gas. Radon is naturally occurring and develops through the natural breakdown of uranium, which may be found in rocks, soil, groundwater, and well water. Because radon cannot be seen and is odorless and tasteless it is often difficult to detect and may go unnoticed. This gas may inhabit the air of your home through cracks in walls and flooring, and can only be identified through a radon test which you can conduct yourself. However, if your home tests hire than a 4 it may be time to contact an expert and fix the problem to avoid future complications.

Radon Gas

VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are important to look out for within your home. This includes anything such as acetone, ethanol, formaldehyde, benzene, and toluene on an ingredient list. VOCs can be found in many home cleaning products and can cause a number of health problems, including cancer. Luckily, getting VOCs out of your home is much simpler than asbestos removal or radon detection. 

Consider making your own cleaning products, or searching for a safer alternative to positively impact the air quality within your home.
Paying attention to what’s in the air you breath is just as important as eating a healthier diet when it comes to cancer prevention. This Cancer Prevention Month, try to implement steps from each of these areas to lower your risk of cancer and create yourself an overall healthier lifestyle.

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