This is a must-read article for every adult person. It is tremendously important for people to reduce their cancer risk. Statistically, almost one in two people will get cancer in their lifetime. Cancer is the second most leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease. While there are many major lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of cancer, it can be difficult to change habits that have been ingrained for years. Luckily, there are some easy lifestyle hacks you can use right now to reduce your cancer risk without having to do anything drastic just yet.
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Sadly, Too Many People are Diagnosed with Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, there were 18.1 million new cases of cancer worldwide in 2018. That number is expected to rise to almost 30 million by the year 2040, with about 16.4 million people dying of the disease.
Next time you are in a store, look around at all the people. Almost 40% of those people will get cancer in their lifetime. Every single day, more than 50,000 people will be diagnosed. That is one person every 2 seconds. And, according to one scientific review, 90 – 95% of chronic illnesses, including cancer, are preventable with lifestyle changes.
What Lifestyle Choices Increase Cancer Risk?
Before we talk about what you can do to do to lower your risk, let’s discuss things that we know will increase your risk of cancer.
Alcohol and Smoking are Major Contributors to Cancer Risk
Drinking alcohol and smoking are the obvious two lifestyle factors that contribute to cancer risk. Tobacco accounts for over 25% of all cancers, while about 5% is contributed to alcohol. But we know all this right?
Quitting tobacco is not an easy lifestyle change. Tobacco contains the highly addictive chemical nicotine. It tricks the body and mind into craving and needing it. But tobacco, whether smoked or chewed, contains a multitude of other nasty chemicals, such as tobacco-specific nitrosamines, that cause cancer. This is no longer even disputed. It is a scientific fact. But since quitting tobacco is not an easy lifestyle hack, I have not included it in my top 10 list. But, know that omitting it from my list was not an oversight. Quitting tobacco will significantly lower your risk for cancer.
And, although alcohol is not as addicting as smoking, we just don’t want to hear about quitting. Most people do not like to give up their wine, beer, or spirits. Certainly, social drinking and letting loose with friends helps us unwind and destress. But alcohol does contribute to about 5% of cancers. And not drinking will, indeed, lower cancer risk. However, I didn’t include it on my top 10 ‘quick and easy’ list either, because people just do not want to hear it.
Obesity and an Unhealthy Diet Are Also Cancer Risk Factors
Researchers have collected a multitude of data that tell us that having excess body fat is a major contributor to cancer risk. Obesity accounts for more than 10% of cancers. And the main contributor to an increase in body fatness is overconsumption of calories in the diet.
A poor diet is the highest contributor to cancer risk. About 30 – 35% of all cancers are attributed to diet. The worst diet for cancer risk is a high calorie, high sugar, and low fiber diet. Eating convenience foods and prepackaged meals, while easy, are not healthy choices.
Making significant diet modifications and losing weight are challenging. However, doing so can significantly reduce your risk of cancer. Making major lifestyle changes is not simple, but there are several things you can do to make the process less difficult. As you will read, smaller changes are easy lifestyle hacks to naturally reduce your risk of cancer.
What Lifestyle Choices Reduce Cancer Risk?
Before I tell you my top 10 easy lifestyle hacks to reduce your risk of cancer, let me quickly review some of the major lifestyle changes you might want to consider.
- Eat a healthy diet
- Limit food calories and added sugars
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Exercise 150 to 300 minutes per week
- Reduce daily stress
- Get more quality sleep
- Limit red and processed meats
- Stop smoking
- Limit convenience and prepackaged foods
- Avoid alcohol
But most of these are not easy to achieve, although they certainly can be attained over time.
Top 10 Easy Lifestyle Hacks to Significantly Reduce Cancer Risk
So, what easy lifestyle hacks are on my top 10 list to reduce your risk of cancer? Let’s dive right into that now. Here are 10 things you can start immediately that lower your risk for cancer.
1. Eat More Vegetables
A diet with more vegetables can reduce cancer risk by up to 40%. Studies show that consuming at least 5 servings of vegetables daily can help prevent colon, breast, prostate, and other cancers.
It isn’t too much effort to include more vegetables into our diet, is it? One serving of most vegetables is about the size of your clenched fist. So, include one serving at breakfast and two at lunch and two at dinner. That will give you the cancer-preventing goodness of at least 5 servings a day.
2. Wear a Sleep Mask
Scientists have discovered that artificial light at night disrupts your body’s natural hormone cycles. In particular, the blue light emitted from smart phones, televisions, and tablets, seemed to be related to a higher risk of hormone-related cancer, such as breast and prostate. But outdoor blue light, such as that from light pollution in large cities, was also a factor.
Wearing a sleep mask at night not only helps you get a better sleep, it also blocks out the blue light that can disrupt your body’s natural rhythms and leave you at a higher risk for cancer.
3. Drink More Water
One way to help prevent cancer is to drink more water. Water is a great detoxifier. Drinking at least eight glasses per day will keep your body hydrated and flush cancer-causing toxins through your system.
Water also helps with weight loss and reduces risk for obesity. Since drinking water before meals and throughout the day keeps you feeling full longer, it reduces your overall daily calorie intake.
One study determined that your risk of dying from chronic disease, including malignant cancer, was 4 times higher if you are not properly hydrated.
4. Go for a Walk
It is no secret that regular exercise lowers your chance of getting ‘sitting diseases’, including cancer. But many people think they need to do a hard gym workout multiple times per week to be effective. This just simply isn’t true. Walking is an easy exercise, that most people can do, to lower the risk of cancer.
Regular physical activity decreases the risk for colon, breast, kidney, uterine, bladder, throat, stomach, and lung cancers. And, in those who had cancer, studies show that being more active reduced the risk of dying.
5. Spend Time Outdoors
There are a variety of cancer-preventing health benefits of simply being outside. Some of these include reducing stress, increasing vitamin D levels, being more active, and simply breathing in fresh air.
Additionally, being out among the trees and nature can also boost your spirits and help prevent cancer. Plant chemicals released in the air around trees can increase the activity of the cancer-killing cells in your blood stream.
6. Eat whole grains
In addition to eating more vegetables, eating whole grain foods can reduce your risk of some cancers, especially stomach and colon cancer. These foods contain vitamins and minerals to keep your immune system healthy. They also contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that can prevent cancer cells from growing. And they also contain a significant amount of fiber, which is important for supporting your good gut bacteria that produce their own tumor suppressing compounds.
Some examples of whole grain foods to add into your daily diet are oats, quinoa, wild rice, amaranth, rye, and barley. I do not include whole wheat in this list of whole grains (see below).
Update February 10, 2022
Whole wheat is a whole grain included on many healthy eating lists. However, increasing agriculture pressures to supply whole wheat has lead to an increase in pesticide use in the agriculture industry. Studies have found that these pesticides are mainly found in the bran part of the wheat. Refined white wheat has the fiber component removed and is digested by the body into sugar. So, neither whole wheat, unless organic, nor white flour is really good to eat. I removed it from my list.
7. Do Some Crunches or Planks
According to the American Cancer Society, limiting your time sitting reduces your risk of cancer. So, why not do some crunches, push-ups, jumping jacks, or planks as a break after every hour of computer work?
In a large study, those people who did more physical activity decreased their risk for 13 different types of cancer by as much as 20%. Doing a strength training workout twice a week also helps you look and feel better. You will have better posture, flexibility, and balance, while reducing your risk of dying from cancer.
8. Close Your Eyes for 10 Minutes During Every Day
Closing your eyes, clearing your mind, and just listening to yourself breathe is essentially mindful meditation. It helps you relax and focus on the present moment. This will also allow you to better handle daily stress, improve your sleep quality, help you make better health choices, and, thus, reduce your risk of cancer.
Mindfulness practice can also help you deal with anxiety, heightened emotions and side-effects of treatments when dealing with a cancer diagnosis.
9. Write in a Journal
Journaling is another mindfulness technique to help reduce your risk of cancer. It too helps you deal with the stresses and emotions of a busy daily life. It can help you work through conflicting emotions that raise cortisone and other hormone levels linked to cancer development.
10. Go See Your Doctor
Early detection is key when it comes to the risk of developing any type of cancer. Cancer is more manageable and treatable in the early stages. So, if you haven’t already done so, schedule an appointment with your doctor today! Go get your PAP test. Schedule that mammogram. Arrange for a colonoscopy. Do what you need to do to get screened.
Live Your Life with These Cancer Prevention Hacks
No one wants cancer, of course. However, presently, most people live their life without taking measures for cancer prevention. Many factors play a part in the development of cancer, but, as we have seen, your lifestyle plays a very significant role. Eating healthy, exercising, and living life mindfully can help reduce the risk of cancer and improve your overall health. I hope you can incorporate some of these top 10 easy lifestyle hacks to reduce your cancer risk. Start today!
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