If you want to defeat cancer with diet, nutrition, physical activity, stress management, sleep, and other factors, check out these lifestyle tips for reducing cancer risk.
We all know that cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and it’s not getting any better. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer is the second-leading cause of death globally, accounting for 8.8 million deaths each year. This number is expected to rise to 11.4 million by 2030.
The cause of cancer varies. It can be genetics, environmental toxins, infections, poor diets, lack of exercise, smoking, or radiation exposure. The good news is there are many ways we can reduce our chances of developing this disease. In fact, some studies have shown that certain foods may actually help prevent cancer from forming in the first place! Here are 10 healthy habits that will keep your body free of cancer:
Eat healthy fats
Fatty acids found in animal-based foods help protect against breast cancer by reducing estrogen levels. Fatty acids found in plant-based foods reduce the amount of fat stored in your liver and prevent excess cholesterol buildup. Eating lots of omega 3 fatty acids may lower your risk of colon cancer. Omega 6 fatty acids promote inflammatory responses, which contribute to cancerous tumors. Consuming large amounts of trans fats increases your chances of developing pancreatic cancer.
Trans fats raise LDL cholesterol levels and decrease HDL cholesterol levels. Both high cholesterol and low cholesterol levels increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Eat plenty of whole grains, legumes, leafy vegetables, cruciferous veggies, oranges, strawberries, melons, pomegranates, olives, peanuts, peanut butter, tofu, tempeh, eggs, chicken, turkey, lean beef, pork, lamb, wild-caught seafood, shellfish, and organ meats.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
These two food groups contain antioxidants that protect cells against damage. Antioxidants also fight inflammation, which has been linked to several types of cancers. Fruits like berries, apples, pears, oranges, grapes, melons, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, kale, Brussels sprouts, peas, beans, and onions provide powerful anti-inflammatory properties as well as fiber, vitamins A, C, E, K, B6, folate, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, selenium, calcium, phosphorus, protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and more.
Vegetables such as leafy greens, peppers, cucumbers, squash, celery, garlic, onion, mushrooms, artichokes, eggplant, zucchini, sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts, cabbage, radishes, turnips, parsley, leeks, green beans, pumpkin, winter squashes, watermelon, summer squashes, collard greens, mustard greens, bok choy, kohlrabi, fennel, jicama, okra, beetroot, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines, cherries, avocados, mangoes, figs, dates, prunes, raisins, persimmons, and others offer even more health benefits.
Get enough rest
Sleep helps us recover from everyday stresses and prevents chronic diseases like heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, obesity, depression, and anxiety. Sleep deprivation leads to fatigue, irritability, mood swings, memory loss, weight gain, impaired judgment, decreased immunity, increased blood pressure, and insulin resistance. It also increases cortisol levels, which contributes to belly fat storage.
Lack of quality sleep can lead to overeating because when we don’t get adequate amounts of sleep, we tend to eat later at night. Getting seven hours of uninterrupted sleep every day is ideal, but if you’re having trouble falling asleep, try taking a warm bath before bedtime, meditating, listening to soothing music, reading something uplifting, drinking herbal tea, eating a small snack, exercising, doing yoga, or going on a short walk. If none of those work, then take a nap during the afternoon instead.
Regular aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular function, boosts metabolism, strengthens muscles, reduces stress hormones, burns calories, builds muscle mass, lowers cholesterol, decreases triglycerides, protects bones, promotes mental clarity, enhances immune system functioning, and much more. Exercise also provides endorphin release, which makes us feel happy and energized.
Studies show that people who engage in regular moderate-intensity workouts burn about 20% fewer calories than sedentary individuals. And according to research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, women who do strength training twice per week lose nearly half as much abdominal visceral fat as their inactive peers over 12 months. So start moving today—you’ll thank yourself tomorrow.
Regular exercise can significantly decrease your chances of getting cancer. Exercise also provides an opportunity to socialize and meet new people, leading to better relationships and friendships.
Avoid processed meats
Processed meat contains nitrates and other preservatives that have been shown to cause cancer. Nitrites are used in cured meats and bacon, while sodium chloride is found in deli meats and ham. These additives may be carcinogenic and should not be consumed by anyone with high-risk factors for colon cancer, including family history, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, polyps, adenomas, hyperplastic polyps, large size adenoma, red flags, and any surgery involving the digestive tract.
Processed meats include hotdogs, sausage links, pepperoni sticks, lunchmeat, corned beef, pastrami, salami, jerky, smoked fish, canned tuna, luncheon meats, chicken breast, turkey breast, pork loin chops, ground beef, hamburger patties, and all kinds of sausages. Avoid them altogether.
Eat plenty of vegetables
Vegetables are full of nutrients that help prevent many different forms of cancer. They lower your risk of developing certain cancers, and they reduce the severity of existing ones. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends consuming five servings of fruits and veggies daily.
That means one serving equals 1/2 cup raw fruit or veggie juice; 2 cups chopped fresh produce; ½cup cooked vegetable; ¼ cup dried fruit; or 4 ounces 100 percent whole-grain cereal. Fruits and veggies contain fiber, antioxidants, vitamins A, C, D, E, K, folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, protein, carbohydrates, B-complex vitamins, folic acid, lutein, zeaxanthin, beta carotene, indoles, flavonoids, phenols, glucosinolates, phytoestrogens, and bioflavonoids.
Get enough vitamin D
Vitamin D deficiency has become an epidemic among Americans due to lack of exposure to sunlight and poor diet choices. In fact, it’s estimated that 80% of adults worldwide suffer from some form of vitamin D deficiency. This essential mineral plays a role in bone health, brain development, cellular growth, gene expression, hormone production, inflammation reduction, infection prevention, kidney function, muscle contraction, nerve cell communication, pain management, proper thyroid gland activity, wound healing, and even skin integrity.
According to Harvard Medical School researchers, “Vitamin D status appears to play a critical role in determining whether someone will develop prostate cancer.” To ensure optimal absorption of vitamin D, consume foods rich in prebiotics.
These foods are garlic, onions, leeks, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, collards, turnip greens, mustard greens, bok choy, kohlrabi, rutabaga, radishes, watercress, arugula, parsley, cilantro, dandelion greens, celery root, artichokes, avocados, mushrooms, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, peas, beans, lentils, soybeans, almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flaxseeds, hempseeds, and Brazil nuts. Also, eat fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, anchovies, bluefish, albacore tuna, swordfish, halibut, cod, haddock, pollack, catfish, sole, snapper, grouper, bass, perch, carp, eels, tilapia, and shrimp at least twice weekly.
Alcohol consumption increases the risk of several types of cancer. It also lowers immune system functioning, which can make you more susceptible to infections. Alcoholic beverages are mostly of sugar so drinking too much of these products leads to weight gain and obesity. Obesity raises insulin levels which promotes tumor growth. If you drink alcoholic beverages regularly, try cutting back on how often you do so. You could also switch to nonalcoholic drinks if possible.
Drink green tea
Green tea is an excellent source of antioxidants called epigallocatechin gallate. Green tea helps fight off free radicals and reduces oxidative stress. Oxidative stress causes DNA damage and contributes to cancer formation. Drinking two 8oz glasses of green tea each day provides about 50mg of EGCG. Other sources of antioxidant compounds include dark chocolate, berries, grapes, apples, citrus fruits, olive oil, avocado, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, rosemary, basil, oregano, sage, thyme, cloves, nutmeg, bay leaves, cocoa powder, cacao nibs, coffee, coconut milk, and cocoa butter.
Don’t smoke cigarettes
Cancer cells thrive when exposed to nicotine. Smoking tobacco is highly addictive because it triggers the release of dopamine into the brain. Nicotine stimulates the reward center of the brain, causing feelings of pleasure. The body releases endorphins after smoking or chewing tobacco. These chemicals cause euphoria and relaxation, increasing blood pressure, heart rate, breathing difficulty, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, insomnia, dizziness, anxiety, depression, and other symptoms.
Cigarette smokers have higher rates of lung cancer than people who don’t smoke. They’re also more likely to get mouth cancers, throat cancers, and laryngeal cancers. People with oral cavity cancers tend to be heavy cigarette smokers, while those with pharynx cancers usually aren’t. Lung cancer patients who smoked before their diagnosis were less likely to survive compared to nonsmokers.
In conclusion, there’s no doubt that lifestyle changes can help reduce your chances of developing certain forms of cancer. However, most doctors agree that early detection through regular screenings is key to reducing your risks. Talk to your doctor today about what steps he recommends taking to lower your odds of getting cancer.
The information contained within this website is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Alex is a passionate fitness enthusiast dedicated to helping people lead healthier, more active lifestyles. He encourages small – sustainable changes over drastic transformations and works with people to create customized wellness plans. His mission is to help others benefit from the most effective methods available, sharing tips, strategies, and health & fitness tools on Gearuptofit.com to inspire people to live their best lives.