How to Reduce Your Odds of Getting This Deadly Disease
Cancer is a leading cause of death in the Western world. A complex and often difficult-to-treat disease, cancer can strike at any age and cause devastation. When cancer strikes, normal cells in the body undergo a mutation which causes them to multiply out of control. This mass of abnormal cells forms a tumor. If left untreated, cancer cells from this tumor can break away and travel to other parts of the body, spawning more tumors. This activity results in disruption of normal organ function where ever the tumors spread.
The good news is, there is a lot you can do to protect yourself from cancer. Below I outline ten steps you can take to dramatically lessen your chances of getting this disease. Keep in mind, this article is no substitute for the advice of your doctor.
1. Include Cancer Fighters In Your Diet
Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussel sprouts are believed to be nature's best cancer fighters. Include them often in your diet to benefit from their protection. Additionally, be sure to include foods high in antioxidants. In this realm blueberries reign supreme, but you can also get large doses from other berries, tea (particularly green tea), red wine, dark chocolate, pecans, kidney beans, and many other foods. Antioxidants help your body neutralize free radicals--molecules that damage living tissue. It is the accumulation of this tissue damage that can result in cancer.
2. Get Your Daily Dose of Fiber
High fiber diets have been found to reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer, while diets low in fiber and high in saturated fat have been shown to do the opposite. To lower your risk of this form of cancer, try to eat more than 20 grams of fiber each day--ideally, 30 grams. And if you are young, start early! Damage to the colon slowly accumulates over the years. Your good habits today will give you better health tomorrow.
3. Limit Your Exposure to Chemicals
Many known carcinogens are found in our living environments. Cleaners, pesticides, even fire-retardant materials in furniture and electronics are known to contain unhealthy chemicals. Try to keep your living space as all-natural as possible, and search the internet for healthy alternatives to harsh cleaners. Avoid brands that treat their products with PBDEs (IKEA, Ericsson, Intel, and Philips are a few). Your work environment may be even worse, especially if you work around gasoline, industrial cleaners, or other potential carcinogens. You must ask yourself if the health risk is worth the pay.
4. Get Your Lycopene
Lycopene, found in tomatoes and watermelon, has been shown to prevent certain types of cancers, most notably prostate cancer. Because prostate cancer is the the most common cancer of men, it is important that men lower their risk by getting enough lycopene. One caveat to keep in mind is that lycopene requires fat in order to be absorbed into the body, so Italian dishes with tomato sauce and a little olive oil work well.
5. Quit Smoking Right Away
Lung cancer is the biggest killer of all forms of cancer, and smoking cigarettes dramatically increases your odds of getting this disease. If you are a smoker, quitting is the single most significant thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer.
6. Protect Yourself From the Sun by Wearing Sunscreen
Incidences of skin cancer are on the rise. The most common forms of skin cancers are not very lethal, however there is a growing number of cases of malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Exposure to the sun puts you at risk for this disease, so avoid direct sunlight or wear sunscreen. Be sure to follow the directions on the bottle in order to guarantee protection. And if you have had a lot of sun exposure in your life, be on the lookout for skin cancer symptoms.
7. Get Regular Sleep in a Dark Room
How can this advice possibly help you avoid cancer? It's simple. Melatonin, a hormone produced inside our brain while we sleep, has been proven to be a powerful cancer fighter. However, failure to adhere to a regular sleep cycle in a dark room results in much less melatonin production. Studies comparing those whose sleep habits maximize melatonin production with those whose do not found a stark difference in cancer rates.
8. Lose Weight
Obesity has been linked with certain types of cancer. The connection is still being studied, but the link is clear. Since fad diets can be disasterous for your health, be sure to read our article on losing weight in a healthy way.
9. Limit Drinking of Alcohol
Alcohol has long been known as a scourge of the liver as well as a cause of cancer in the mouth and throat. Now new information is emerging that alcohol consumption may contribute to other cancers. Experts recommend that individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease continue to consume moderate amounts of alcohol for its health benefits, but to limit consumption to no more than one or two drinks in a given day.
10. Get Screened for Cancer and Be Vigilant
Cancer screening often catches irregularities in the pre-cancerous stage, which means the disease can be prevented completely. Even if cancer cells are found, early treatment has a much higher success rate. Talk to your doctor about which cancer screenings are right for you at your age, and be sure to have any irregularities checked out. Keep in mind, most things aren't cancer, and it is easy to scare yourself over nothing. Get checked out, and you'll have peace of mind.
Please note that I am not a doctor. These are ten cancer-fighting tips that I have gathered in my own private research. We should all play an active role in educating ourselves about our health and adjusting our lives accordingly. I hope that this article has inspired you to make a few changes in your lifestyle to help keep you free of this terrible disease.
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