February is National Cancer Prevention Month, and there’s no better time than now to make positive changes that research shows can help us avoid certain cancers. The National Cancer Institute explains that while many factors go into determining whether or we develop cancer, some substances and lifestyle choices increase our risk.
“Cancer is not a single disease but a group of related diseases. Many things in our genes, our lifestyle, and the environment around us may increase or decrease our risk of getting cancer.”
While certain factors are certainly out of our control, there are many things we can do to feel better and live a healthier lifestyle and have the added benefit of fighting this disease. Here are four ways researchers believe we can live better and, at the same time, reduce our risk of cancer by up to 42%:
Tobacco is the leading cause of cancer and deaths from cancer and if you smoke, or are around someone who regularly smokes, you have a greater risk of developing cancer. Tobacco use is linked to a number of cancers including cancer of the lung, larynx (voice box), mouth, esophagus, throat, bladder, kidney, liver, stomach, pancreas, colon and rectum, and cervix, and acute myeloid leukemia. Users of smokeless tobacco (like “chew” and “dip”) have greater risk of developing cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas.
There is no such thing as a safe form of tobacco.
It’s never too late to quit. People who quit tobacco now have a greater life expectancy and overall health outlook. People recently diagnosed with cancer who quit smoking tobacco live longer and better than those who don’t. Free help is available to quit smoking.
Get Regular Exercise
Regular exercise is not only key to maintaining a healthy body and mind but also might help reduce your risk of developing cancer, among other diseases. Regular exercise is associated with many health benefits both physical and mental. The American Cancer Society explains that exercise can help you build healthy bones, increase muscle tone. improve circulation, and even reduce anxiety and depression.
Maintain a Healthy Body Weight
People at above average weight are at greater risk of developing certain types of cancer. These cancers include cancers of the breast (in postmenopausal women), colon, rectum, endometrium (lining of the uterus), esophagus, kidney, pancreas, and gallbladder. Obesity is also tied to a range of other diseases such as heart disease, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure.
According to the World Health Organization, approximately 14 million cases of cancer are diagnosed every year, a number that is expected to rise to 24 million by 2032. The United States is ranked 7th on that list. However, the steps you take right now can reduce your risk of getting cancer. Experts know that up to 42% of cancers are preventable with certain lifestyle changes like those outlined above. For more great tips on diet and exercise, visit the American Cancer Society.
If you (or someone you know) have been diagnosed with cancer and are having trouble meeting expenses, see our link with free resources that help pay for prescriptions, out-of-pocket expenses and other care-related costs: free financial help for cancer patients.