Simple Habits That Can Reduce Your Cancer Risk

At the beginning of 2017, officials estimated 2 million people would receive a new cancer diagnosis by the end of the year. It’s more common than we’d like to think — but it’s not something we need to be afraid of. There are many things you can do every day to reduce your cancer risk. Even things you’re doing already can make a huge difference.

What increases your cancer risk?

Doctor and patient

There are things you can do to decrease your cancer risk. | iStock.com/daizuoxin

According to the National Cancer Institute, age, hormones, and family history all increase your risk of developing cancer — and those are just the factors you can’t control. Lifestyle factors — those you’re more in control over — range from alcohol use to diet to activity level. Adopting healthier lifestyle habits could significantly reduce your cancer risk.

Next: Do you eat this type of meat? You might want to consider cutting back.

Avoid processed meat as much as possible

Sliced ham

Deli meat has the possibility to cause you more harm than good. | iStock.com

Most meat provides a variety of health benefits, but heavily processed versions could increase your cancer risk. According to the World Health Organization, regularly consuming foods like hot dogs and deli meat specifically increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer. There’s limited evidence that red meat could also have carcinogenic affects, so you might consider limiting your hamburger habit, too.

Next: This daily activity could decrease your cancer risk significantly.

Exercise often

Fit woman doing full plank core exercise

Get in a good sweat session on a regular basis. | iStock.com/undrey

You probably already know fitness makes you healthier. In the long-term, however, it might even help you avoid the most common types of cancer in America. According to research from the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society, exercising regularly might lower your risk of up to 13 different types of cancer.

Next: Make sure these foods make it into your diet to help prevent cancer.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

Cut fruit in containers on display

You can never have too many fruits or vegetables. | iStock.com/littleny

According to Everyday Health, many fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants. Regularly consuming these chemicals can help prevent cancer-promoting cell damage. Plant foods might also be able to help reduce inflammation, another risk factor for many different types of cancer.

Next: If you aren’t eating this type of food to reduce your cancer risk, you should be.

Consume whole grains instead of processed grains

Buckwheat in bowl

Always go for the whole grains. | iStock.com

Many of the grain-based foods you eat probably contain refined grains, which lack the nutrients necessary to make them worthwhile. Experts recommend eating whole grains instead of refined grains as often as possible. The American Institute for Cancer Research says the compounds that naturally occur in whole grains, like dietary fiber and lignans, can contribute to a lower risk of cancer.

Next: Monitor this habit to make sure you’re not intentionally increasing your cancer risk.

Drink alcohol in moderation

four different alcoholic drinks in glasses

Keep the cocktails to a minimum. | iStock.com

When it comes to alcohol, there is such thing as middle ground. You shouldn’t drink excessively, but you don’t have to give it up completely, either. Some research suggests abusing alcohol over long periods of time can increase your risk of multiple types of cancer. However, moderate alcohol consumption might also be good for you. As a general rule, stick to a serving or two of alcohol at most per day.

Next: When was the last time you made an appointment with your doctor? You might want to make one.

Visit your doctor regularly

Couple talking to a doctor

You should go to the doctor regularly. | iStock.com

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends regular screenings both at home and at your doctor’s office. Catching cancer before you start showing symptoms matters. Overall, regular checkups, whether you’re undergoing a routine screening or not, help both you and your health care provider keep tabs on your health. The healthier you are, the lower your risk of disease.

Next: Are there vaccines to prevent cancer?

Make sure you’re vaccinated

Vaccine in vial

Getting vaccinated can make all the difference. | iStock.com/Mckyartstudio

Getting vaccinated when you’re young matters. Not all types of vaccines are part of the typical immunization cycle, though. There aren’t vaccines to prevent cancer directly — yet. However, there are vaccines that can protect you against infections like HPV and hepatitis B, which can cause cancer.

Next: The number on the scale could, in a way, predict your likelihood of developing cancer.

Maintain a healthy weight

young healthy girl on home scales

Being a healthy weight can decrease your risk of developing certain cancers. | ensuria

Experts estimate that about 40% of cancer diagnoses in the U.S. could have a lot to do with weight. Weight gain increases your chances of developing more than one chronic disease — including many different types of cancer. Achieving and maintaining your ideal body weight will help improve your health and reduce your disease risk.

Next: This is probably one of the worst cancer-causing habits you could follow.

Don’t use tobacco

smoking in a cafe

Just say no. | KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images

We’ve known for a long time that using tobacco increases your risk of lung cancer. Unfortunately, this isn’t the only type of cancer you can get from keeping up this terrible habit. According to the CDC, smoking cigarettes and cigars can promote cancer anywhere throughout your body, including your stomach, liver, and blood.

Next: Are you a coffee or tea drinker? You’re in luck.

Get your caffeine fix

Green tea

Get energized with some fresh green tea. | Kazoka30/iStock/Getty Images

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, regular caffeine consumption may contribute to a lower risk of certain cancers. Both coffee and tea contain antioxidants and other nutrients that promote a healthier life. Choosing either beverage might also help limit your consumption of artificially-sweetened drinks like soda, which also aren’t good for you.

Next: Watching too much TV could give you cancer — sort of.

Limit your screen time

Couple watching TV

It’s important to consistently keep your body moving. | iStock.com

Too much screen time might be an indirect risk factor for multiple types of cancer. A study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology found that a long-term sedentary lifestyle might increase your risk of both bladder and kidney cancers. Sitting too much isn’t good for you. At least do some laps around the living room while you’re watching TV, to keep your body moving.

Next: Doing this regularly increases your chances of catching skin cancer early.

Check your skin

woman looking at mirror

Stay aware of any unusual skin changes. | shironosov/iStock/Getty Images

Regular skin exams — both self-exams and those your doctor conducts at checkups — promote early detection of skin cancer, one of the most common types in the U.S. Early detection improves your prognosis significantly, says the American Cancer Society. Perform a self-exam on your skin at least once a month, and inform your doctor of any unusual changes.

Next: Are you part of a high-risk group more likely to develop cancer? 

Who’s most at risk?

Family Looking At Artifacts In Glass Case On Trip

A family history can significantly increase your cancer risk. | iStock.com/monkeybusinessimages

According to Mayo Clinic, certain people are more likely to receive a cancer diagnosis than others. Those whose family members have had certain types of cancer are at a higher risk of those cancers. Certain chronic health conditions, like ulcerative colitis, also increase your cancer risk. That’s why it’s so important to take care of yourself over the long-term, to keep your body in working order.

Next: These are the cancers you’re most likely to develop in the United States.

These are the most common types of cancer in the U.S.

Diagnosis prostate cancer written in the diagnostic form

Some cancers are a lot more common than others. | iStock.com/designer491

Of the over 200 known types of cancer, Everyday Health says there are a handful Americans in particular come into contact with the most. Skin, breast, prostate, colorectal, and kidney cancers are among the top types of cancer diagnosed every year. Make sure you keep your diet and other habits in check to lower your risk of these potentially fatal cancers.

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