Despite our advances in medicine, cancer is still one of the most feared diseases today. Survival rates may have improved, but there are still no conclusive ways to completely avoid it. Your best option right now is to minimize your risk of developing cancer. Here are several ways how.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet
There have been plenty of research exploring the relationship between diet and cancer, but since the disease takes a while to develop and there are numerous other factors involved, findings haven't been definitive. One thing is sure, however: eating a healthy and balanced diet could minimize your risk of getting cancer.
But what does a healthy and balanced diet entail? Here a few recommendations:
- At least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
- Plenty of whole grain rice, bread, cereals, and pasta for fibre.
- Small amounts of lean red meat (e.g. pork, beef, lamb). As much as possible, avoid processed meat products like sausages, bacon, ham, and salami.
- Small amounts of low-fat dairy products.
- An even smaller amount of food and beverages high in sugar or fat.
Maintain a healthy weight
Australia is one of the fattest countries in the world. Because of this, the country is facing a rise in obesity- related cancers. According to statistics, about 23 per cent of obese Australians have a higher likelihood of dying from cancer than people in the healthy body weight range. The cancers related to being overweight include colon, esophagus, kidney, prostate, endometrium (i.e. the mucus membrane lining the womb), and breast.
Fortunately, this can be reduced by maintaining weight through a healthy and balanced diet (see above) and increased physical activity. A physically active lifestyle involves doing at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, in addition to your everyday activities. For better health, go for 45 to 60 minutes of vigorous exercise.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that smoking is the largest single preventable cause of disease and death in the country. Aside from cancer, smoking increases the risk of stroke, emphysema, asthma, kidney disease, stroke, heart disease, and eye disease. If you want to significantly reduce your risk of developing cancer, do yourself a favor and do not smoke.
Limit your alcohol
Consuming alcohol is said to increase the risk of certain cancers such as esophageal cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, larynx and pharynx cancer, and mouth cancer. There's nothing wrong in occasionally having alcohol, as long as you drink moderately. Men shouldn't drink more than two per day, while women should avoid consuming more than one per day.
Protect your skin from the sun
Exposure to the sun is one of the most common causes of skin cancer. Fortunately, it's easily avoidable as well. Here are a few suggestions to minimize your cancer risk:
- Stay out of the sun from 10am to 4pm.
- Apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (or SPF) of at least 15.
- If you'll be out in the sun, wear tightly woven and loose-fitting clothes that cover your arms and legs. Don't forget to wear a broad-brimmed hat to cover your head and ears, and sunglasses to protect your eyes.
Get screened for cancer regularly
The best way to minimise your risk is to get screened regularly for different types of cancers, including colon, skin, cervix, breast, and prostate cancer. Regular screening can improve the chances of early cancer detection and greatly improve the odds of a successful treatment. Consult your doctor about a screening schedule suitable for your age, gender, and other mitigating factors.