Science Answers – Does Pursuing A Healthy Lifestyle Prevent Cancer?

healthy lifestyle

With cancer being the second prevailing cause of death in the United States, cancer prevention has been a hot topic in recent times. If you understand this idea as taking measures to reduce the risk of developing cancer, then yes, leading a healthy lifestyle will cut your chances of having cancer. However, this is not a foolproof solution. A research published in the journal Science indicates that two-thirds of cancers are still unavoidable, mostly due to unlucky DNA mutations.

“Genes are important, but diet and lifestyle are even more important in most cases,” states Dr. Ed Giovannucci from the Nutrition and Epidemiology Department of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. With fellow researcher Dr. Mingyang Song, Dr. Giovannucci discovered that a healthy lifestyle could prevent almost half of all cancer cases and deaths in the U.S.

The researchers examined the lifestyles of 136,000 white men and women, revealing that four healthy habits improved colon, lung, pancreatic, kidney, and breast cancer prevention. While the study doesn’t prove that a healthy lifestyle prevents cancer, it is good to note that it has provided substantial evidence showing an association with lowering cancer risks.

“I think the real key here is that most cancers are not just a result of bad luck or chance, but in fact, the majority are preventable,” says Dr. Graham Colditz, chief of the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. In various studies, a “healthy lifestyle pattern” meant no smoking, no to moderate use of alcohol, and at 75 to 150 minutes of exercise.

There is no total assurance, but health screenings and some lifestyle changes can help you stay healthy and have better immunity against certain diseases. What’s important is that you let your doctor know what you want and plan to do to achieve your health goals.

Known Cancer Risks

Here is a list of common risk factors to avoid:

  • Use of tobacco products, including cigarettes and smokeless tobacco and exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Risk of exposure to viruses, such as HPV and HIV, through unprotected sex
  • Excessive alcohol intake, especially when combines with tobacco use
  • Certain hormone treatments
  • Exposure to harmful substances such as cadmium, nickel, asbestos, and benzene
  • Environmental exposure to radon gas, which can lead to lung cancer

Eat Healthy and Be Active to Maintain A Healthy Weight

The American Cancer Society recommends eating a variety of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, and grains. Include a serving of fruit and vegetable for every meal and snack throughout the day. Fruit juices can also be a healthy treat but only if it is 100% real juice. Consumption of red meat is not advisable, especially those processed and high in fat. Choose poultry, beans, or fish as an alternative to lamb, pork, and beef.

Exercising even three times a week can also improve health. Physical activities are proven to increase energy, reduce stress, and help you maintain a healthy weight. They can range from simple stretching to running, cycling and swimming. Even without changing other aspects of your lifestyle, exercising alone can bring down your risk of cancer by almost 10 percent as long as you maintain a normal body weight.

Protect Your Skin and Eyes

Three common types of skin cancer – squamous cell, melanoma, and basal cell cancer – all develop from exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. UV radiation typically comes from direct sun exposure or from its reflection off surfaces like snow and pavement. Tanning beds and sun lamps are also common sources.

UV exposure can damage your eyes and skin, causing early aging and lead to cancer. Fair-skinned individuals are at a higher risk of developing diseases from long-term or repeated exposure to these harmful rays.

Get a sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of at least 15 and avoid basking under the sun for prolonged periods during mid-morning to late after hours. You should also consider wearing a hat and sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UV radiation when going out.

Know Your Family Medical History

Certain types of cancer including ovarian, breast, melanoma, colon, and prostate cancers may be more common in some families. Find out what you can of your family medical history so your physician can suggest the right genetic testing to check for gene changes.

Finding a mutation doesn’t immediately mean that you will develop cancer, but it may indicate a higher-than-average possibility of having a disease in the future. You can then work on a plan to reduce your risk or increase your screening frequency.

Start talking to your relatives or friends who know about your family’s medical record. If you are unable to gather information, start documenting yourself. This will be helpful not only for you but also for other members of your family.

Find Out About Screening and Diagnostic Tests

Regular screenings can help you look for early signs of cancer even if you do not experience symptoms. These tests have been proven to save lives by detecting precancerous tumors that lead to cancers and cancers before they spread to other parts of the body.

Be sure to ask your healthcare provider about the potential risks and benefits of any testing procedure. The American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute also provide an excellent summary of cancer screening recommendations which you can check online.

The Takeaway

Professor Mel Greaves, director of the Centre for Evolution and Cancer at The Institute of Cancer Research in London said, “We have good evidence to show that cancer is caused by a complex mix of environmental exposures, inherited risk, and random chance.”

While we cannot the genes we inherited from our parents, there are still aspects of our life that we can control to prevent cancer. Leading a healthy lifestyle is definitely one of them.

At New Home Unlimited, we fight cancer using the most advanced holistic treatment options available. We strongly believe that strengthening our cells through appropriate nutrition and natural approaches can improve our resistance to diseases, as evidenced by the overwhelming number of patients we’ve helped survive cancer. Call us today at 480-473-9808 to know more about our health programs.

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