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How Much Is in Your Control?
Cancer is an incredibly frightening disease with over half a million expected deaths in the United States alone this year, according to the American Cancer Society. Everyone is at risk for cancer although there are many factors that can raise or lower your risk level. Some of these factors are completely out of your control, such as age, genetics, and some level of exposure to environmental toxins. There are many factors that you do have control over. While cancer most certainly is not always preventable and is often unexplainable, a significant number of cases can be prevented. Make prevention against cancer a part of your life no matter what your age with these tips for healthy living.
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One of the most important steps towards preventing cancer is to quit smoking and to avoid second hand smoke. There are at least 250 harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 69 of which are known carcinogens, including arsenic, cadmium, and vinyl chloride. Smoking is not only a leading cause of lung cancer, but of kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, cervix, mouth, and esophageal cancer. It also raises your risk for other serious health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and asthma.
Quitting smoking reduces your risk of both developing and dying from cancer. The less cigarettes that you smoke and the less years that you are exposed to tobacco smoke, the lower your risk.
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Obesity and being overweight is another major risk factor for developing cancer. Research has shown that excess body weight is linked to the risk of developing several types of cancer, including breast, colon, kidney, and esophageal. According to the Cancer Council of Australia a healthy body weight is within a BMI range of 18.5 to 25. If you didn't already have enough reasons to shed those extra pounds, you do now. Eat a healthy diet and make regular exercise a part of your lifestyle to maintain a healthy weight and help prevent cancer.
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Too Much Sunlight Can Raise Your Risk
Another step towards cancer prevention, especially the prevention of skin cancer, is to monitor your sun exposure. Overexposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun can disrupt genetic material in skin cells. Wear sunscreen (preferably a natural sunscreen that does not contain potentially harmful chemicals) if you are going to be in the sun for more then fifteen minutes, especially during the peak hours from 10 am to 3 pm. Also, stay away from tanning salons. Tanning beds emit UVA rays which may not cause a sunburn, but they do penetrate deep within the skin, damaging cells.
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Get Some Sunlight
While too much sunlight can contribute to the development of skin cancer, not getting enough can be a problem as well. Some sun exposure is important for healthy vitamin D levels. Sunlight triggers the production of vitamin D, which may help decrease the risk of dying from some cancers, including breast, prostate, and lung cancer. Also, be sure to include vitamin D rich foods in your diet, such as wild salmon, eggs, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, milk, and dandelion greens.
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Drink Green Tea
One to three cups of green tea a day supplies the body with cancer-fighting antioxidants, including catechins. These phytochemicals have been shown to inhibit tumor cell proliferation in animal studies. Black tea, which is high in other polyphenols, the theaflavins and thearubigins, is also beneficial.
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How Much Are You Drinking?
Another tip for preventing cancer is to drink alcohol in moderation. Alcohol use is connected to an increased risk of mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast, and colorectal cancers. It damages body tissue, effects hormone levels, and it also can exacerbate the effects of other chemicals. A maximum of one drink a day for women and two for men is recommended by the American Cancer Society.
Read on to learn about more prevention against cancer tips.
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More Ways to Prevent Cancer Prevention against cancer continues with more helpful tips including detoxing tips and beneficial foods to eat.
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Go organic. This means not only choosing organic food, but clothes and bedding as well. Organic foods and fibers are grown without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. This means that you are reducing your exposure to potentially harmful toxins with organic products. Conventional food and textiles are not considered causes of cancer, but by choosing natural products you are reducing the amount of environmental toxins in your life, which over a period of years may be significant.
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Go for a Walk
A lack of physical activity is another factor that can increase your risk for cancer. Simply walking for thirty minutes a day, five days a week you are taking a step towards cancer prevention. Exercise will also help you maintain a healthy weight.
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Eat Your Fruits and Veggies
Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which help to protect cells from free radical damage. Focus on a variety of dark leafy greens, dark berries, and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.
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Eat a High-Fiber Diet
Eating a high-fiber diet is also important for preventing cancer. Fiber encourages the natural removal of waste from the body. Efficient movement of food through the digestive tract means that potentially harmful toxins are eliminated rather then sitting in the colon or being cycled through the bloodstream. Eat plenty of whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
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Eat Less Saturated Fat
A high fat diet is a risk factor for cancer. Minimize the animal fat by eating less red meat and heavy dairy products and consuming more vegetable sources of protein. There is no reason to give up butter, meat, and milk, only to consume in moderation. In fact, hydrogenated oils, which are found in margarine and many processed cookies and other products, are more harmful then saturated fatty acids. Choose natural sources of saturated fat in moderation and unprocessed vegetable oils.
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Eat Lots of Garlic
Some studies have shown a link between eating garlic and a reduced risk of developing stomach, colon, esophageal, pancreatic, and breast cancer. Garlic is high in free radical scavenging antioxidants, it has antibacterial properties, and it blocks the formation of cancer-causing substances. Raw garlic is excellent, while cooked is still beneficial. If you do not like to eat garlic consider taking supplements.
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Lose the Stress
Stress affects the body in many different ways, affecting the endocrine, circulatory, digestive, nervous, and immune systems. While the link between stress and cancer is not clearly defined, with some studies supporting a connection and others being less clear, there is no doubt that stress can cause the body to be more susceptible to disease. Stress also increases your risk for other factors that are directly linked to an increased risk for the development of cancer, such as obesity and poor lifestyle habits such as smoking and drinking. Take time out for yourself and address the stress in your life to improve your well-being and help prevent your chances of developing cancer.
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Making detoxification a regular part of your lifestyle can greatly increase your well-being by removing toxins from the body. Exposure to carcinogens in the workplace and to environmental pollution are two major cancer risk factors. While it may be very difficult to live a life free of chemical exposure, you can take steps to remove some waste and to prevent a build-up of toxins in tissue. Make detoxing a priority, which can be as simple as drinking eight glasses of purified water every day and drinking cleansing herbal teas. Following a detox diet on occasion may be beneficial as well.
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Visit Your Doctor
Prevention against cancer involves visiting your doctor for regular screenings. It is possible to detect precancerous growths, which can then be removed. Screenings can also be beneficial for early detection, which can make treatment so much more possible.
There are so many things that you can do to help prevent cancer. Some are easy, and others more difficult, but each one is a step towards improving the well-being of your body.
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World Health Organization <http://www.who.int/cancer/prevention/en/>
American Cancer Society's Cancer Facts & Figures 2010 <http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/content/@nho/documents/document/acspc-024113.pdf>
"Harms of Smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting." (National Cancer Institute) <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Tobacco/cessation>
"Overweight, obesity, and cancer risk." (International Agency for Research on Cancer, clinical trials NIH) <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12217794>
"Sunlight: Good or Bad for Cancer Risk?" (CBS News, Jan 2008) <http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/01/07/health/webmd/main3684138.shtml>
Balch, Phyllis A. "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
"Tea and Cancer Prevention." (National Cancer Institute) <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/prevention/tea>
"Garlic and Cancer Prevention." (National Cancer Institute) <http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Prevention/garlic-and-cancer-prevention>
photo by Bruce
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photo by Greg Riegler