With today being World Cancer Day, and February dedicated to cancer prevention, we thought we should share some tips on how to reduce your risk of Cancer. After losing Boipelo’s mom to cancer last year, we’ve seen the importance of educating ourselves and others about the disease.
There are many ways in which you can lower your risk, physically, mentally, financially and otherwise, so OCESA has provided some helpful tips for everyone.
Don’t use tobacco
Using any type of tobacco puts you on a collision course with cancer. Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Even if you don’t use tobacco, exposure to second-hand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer.
Avoiding tobacco — or deciding to stop using it — is an important part of cancer prevention. If you need help quitting tobacco, ask your doctor about stop-smoking products and other strategies for quitting.
2. Get enough sleep
Make quality sleep a priority. Admittedly, the evidence linking sleep to cancer is not strong, but poor and insufficient sleep is associated with weight gain, which is a cancer risk factor.
3. Get vaccinated
Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Talk to your doctor about vaccination against:
Hepatitis B – Hepatitis B can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for certain adults at high risk — such as those who are sexually active but not in a mutually monogamous relationship, people with sexually transmitted infections, people who use intravenous drugs, men who have sex with men, and health care or public safety workers who might be exposed to infected blood or body fluids.
Human papillomavirus (HPV) – HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical and other genital cancers as well as squamous cell cancers of the head and neck. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys ages 11-12.
4. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active
Maintaining a healthy weight might lower the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney.
Physical activity counts, too. Staying active may help protect you against colon, breast, lung, and endometrial cancers.
Adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits, but for substantial health benefits, strive to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity. You can also do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine — and if you can do more, even better.
5. Eat a healthy diet
Reduce your consumption of saturated fat and red meat, which may increase the risk of colon cancer and a more aggressive form of prostate cancer.
Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources — such as whole grains and beans.
Avoid obesity. Eat lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-calorie foods, including refined sugars and fat from animal sources.
If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. The risk of various types of cancer — including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver — increases with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you’ve been drinking regularly.
Limit processed meats. A report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, concluded that eating large amounts of processed meat can slightly increase the risk of certain types of cancer.
In addition, women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts might have a reduced risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats, such as olive oil, over butter and fish instead of red meat.
Stay informed. The chemicals and added sweeteners in certain foods are being investigated for their possible links to cancer.
6. Get regular medical care
Regular self-exams and screenings for various types of cancers — such as cancer of the skin, colon, cervix and breast — can increase your chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Ask your doctor about the best cancer screening schedule for you.
7. Protect yourself from the sun
Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer — and one of the most preventable. Try these tips:
Avoid midday sun. Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s rays are strongest.
Stay in the shade. When you’re outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible. Sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat help too.
Don’t skimp on sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even on cloudy days. Apply sunscreen generously and reapply every two hours — or more often if you’re swimming or perspiring.
Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. These are just as damaging as natural sunlight.
A healthy life is one less stress in an already stressful world, so LEARN, KNOW and MAKE A DIFFERENCE, not only for yourself but also for your loved ones.
Article provided by OCESA, a non-profit Organisation for Cancer Education in South Africa.