Want to do as much as you can to keep yourself free of cancer? Your best weapons are right at your fingertips: change your diet, quit smoking, dump the alcohol, stay out of the sun and get up from the sofa. Easy, right? True, it takes discipline, focus and willpower, but according to cancer researchers in Australia, 13 simple measures can save us from cancer and its debilitating effects. We give you 12 of them here (since one, aspirin use, requires further evaluation).
A new study released by researchers at QMIR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland, Australia, proves that easily adoptable lifestyle changes can shield us from developing cancers. The study, under the direction of Professor David Whiteman, found that five high-risk factors were involved in 90% of deaths due to cancer. These were: obesity, overexposure to the sun, smoking, unhealthy alcohol consumption and a poor diet.
Ready for your action plan? Here it is:
1. Quit smoking. Smoking causes something like 163,000 cancer deaths per year according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
2. Limit your alcohol intake. No one is suggesting that you quit drinking, alcohol in moderation is even known to have positive impact on your health, but be smart and keep the consumption low.
3. Make sure to eat foods that are high in fibre, skip the processed foods.
4. Take advantage of your access to fresh fruit and vegetables, and be sure to eat at least three servings a day.
5. Red meat—we all love it. Again, moderation. Too much red meat can cause cancer of the bowels.
6. Use sunscreen and stay in the shade whenever possible. Everyone wants a gorgeous tan, but too much sun exposure leaves you vulnerable to skin cancers.
7. Exercise—a sedentary lifestyle results in less blood moving through your system, a compromised immune system and higher hormone levels, all of which leave you vulnerable to cancers.
8. Monitor your weight. Not exercising can lead to obesity, but other factors are also involved, such as your diet.
9. Follow prescribed vaccination schedules and go for regular checkups to catch infections that are known to cause cancer.
10. If you are a mom who just had kids, try to breastfeed for as long as possible. 12 months is optimal, and it will protect you from certain cancers.
11. Hormone replacement—this is a bit of a mixed bag—it helps protect from colon cancer but can be a factor in developing breast cancer.
12. Same deal with the pill and other oral contraceptives—it seems to protect from uterine and ovarian cancers, but is a factor in developing breast and cervical cancers.
Bottom line—simple, committed changes in your diet and lifestyle can save you from becoming a cancer statistic.