In the American Cancer Society’s Global Facts & Figures, the voluntary health organization reported that an additional 50 percent of new cancer diagnoses would occur by the year 2040. In 2019 alone, there will be about 1,762,450 new cancer cases, and over 606,880 people will die of the disease. Malignant disorders are the second leading cause of death in the United States. As mortality from heart disease declines, scientists and medical researchers foresee cancer as our top killer in the future.
Setting these unfortunate statistics aside, there are significant advancements in understanding the biology of cancer cells, as well as improving the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the 21st Century. But instead of waiting for breakthroughs, did you know you can protect yourself from cancer?
How to Prevent Cancer in Men and Women
A common misconception about cancer is that there are no known causes. The truth is, certain factors can increase your risk of cancer and cause cell mutations. You can, however, try to protect yourself and your loved ones. Below are the ten commandments of cancer prevention, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
- Avoid tobacco in all forms, including exposure to secondhand smoke.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking is the leading risk factor for lung cancer and at least 12 other malignancies. In America, tobacco use is accountable for about 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths. Further, almost 7,300 lung cancer deaths occur annually among adult non-smokers because of exposure to secondhand smoke. The U.S. Surgeon General estimates that there is a 20 to 30 percent likelihood of developing lung cancer just by living with a smoker.
- Consider the health benefits and consequences of what you eat.
Reduce your intake of saturated fat and red meat, which appears to increase the risk of several cancers, including of the colon and prostate. Instead, increase your consumption of fruits, veggies, and whole grains. A 2015 study found that a diet high in fiber may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Eating fish two to three times a week is also crucial against heart disease and prostate cancer.
- Move, move, move!
Obesity is a common cause of cancer, and thousands of studies show that exercising reduces the risk of unhealthy weight gain and cancer occurrence. Performing physical activities play a role in warding off colon and prostate cancers, as well as a woman’s risk of breast and reproductive cancers.
- Drink alcohol in moderation or stop altogether.
If you want to drink alcoholic beverages, restrict your consumption to one or two drinks daily. Excess alcohol raises the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, liver, and colon. It likewise increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Together with smoking, alcohol further heightens the risk of many alcohol-induced malignancies.
- Avoid unnecessary and excessive exposure to radiation and ultraviolet rays.
Wear and apply sunscreen every two hours to protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. Also, while radiology tests are essential to finding cancer, only get medical imaging examinations when you need them. Radiation from the sun and in imaging tests increases the risk of melanoma and other skin cancers.
- Get your daily dose of vitamin D.
Our skin produces large amounts of vitamin D when exposed to the sun. But again, excessive basking can lead to skin cancer. Many experts recommend a daily dose of 800 IU, a goal that is almost impossible to reach without taking a supplement. But evidence suggests that vitamin D may help in reducing the risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer, and lung malignancies.
- Check your home for radon.
Check your residence for toxic substances like radon, which increases the risk of lung cancer. Radon is a radioactive gas that forms when certain metals break down in rocks, soil, and groundwater. You can purchase test kits at home improvement stores, hardware stores, or even online to determine whether this invisible killer is in your home.
- Avoid exposure to industrial toxins.
Asbestos, benzene, aromatic amines, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and other toxic substances can increase the possibility of cancer development in the lung, larynx, and ovary.
- Avoid transmitted infections that heighten cancer risks, such as human papillomavirus and hepatitis viruses.
Infection with HIV considerably raises the risk of some types of cancer in comparison to uninfected people of the same age. The term for these cancers is “HIV-associated cancers.” Doctors refer to these cancers as “acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDs)-defining cancers” or “AIDS-defining malignancies,” which include Kaposi sarcoma, cervical cancer, and aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Receiving a diagnosis of any of these malignancies almost always confirms a parallel diagnosis with AIDS. Unprotected sex and contaminated needles are often the cause of these transmitted diseases.
- For men, consider taking low-dose aspirin.
There is some evidence attesting that aspirin may prevent some cancers and lower the risk of cancer metastasis (spreading). The study shows that men who take aspirin or a different nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug seems to have a much lower risk of colon and prostate cancer. However, further research is necessary to confirm this claim, since aspirin can cause gastric bleeding and other alarming side effects, even in low doses. The great news is, low-dose aspirin can protect men from heart attacks and strokes.
Avoiding tobacco, eating healthy, and following the rest of these commandments will provide another cancer-preventing benefit: if you remain healthy, thou shall not need to undergo aggressive cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy. These “cancer killers” have the ironic side effect of increasing your risk of other cancers. In addition, being healthy means avoiding conventional drugs that suppress your immune system.
Received a Cancer Diagnosis? Here’s What You Should Do
All cancer patients need to face an essential step: to devise a plan against cancer. If you need guidance, New Hope Unlimited’s specialized experts can carefully design a treatment program based on your unique case. We provide comprehensive care and alternative treatments for over 200 cancer types. Contact us by calling 480-757-6573 to learn more about your options, and read 5 Steps to Follow After a Cancer Diagnosis to learn more about your road to recovery.