Cancer appears to be a common menace now. It feels like everything causes it, and it won’t just stop being around. The greatest of fears is that it appears impossible to treat. The statistics of people who die as a result rises at a gravely alarming rate. Is there really a way out? Or do we all just live in fear, abstaining from what all internet posts tell us not to eat, drink and do?
Here are four simple ways to ensure you’re healthy and cancer-free. They really won’t cost you anything, just some level of discipline and commitment, as cancer is to a large extent a lifestyle problem.
So you don’t want to have cancer, then:
Did you know that smoking accounts for more than 40% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States? Chemicals in cigarette smoke enter into bloodstreams and affect the entire body. Asides many other diseases caused by smoking, at least 13 types of cancer are caused by smoking. Some of these are cancers of the:
- oral cavity
Smoking causes cancer by damaging our DNA, not sparing key genes that protect against cancer. Chemicals found in cigarettes such as polonium-210, benzene, and nitrosamines are cancer-causing. What’s worse? Arsenic and nickel, also in cigarette tamper with pathways for repairing damaged DNA. It’s pretty easy to doubt these perhaps because you know a number of people who have smoked for a while and have appeared fine. In actual fact, it takes decades for the DNA damage caused by smoking to lead to cancer because our bodies are configured to deal with the damage to some extent. Cancer sets in when the body can take it no more. A DNA change will cause a cell to become cancerous approximately after 16 cigarettes have been smoked.
For how long, really, do you want to keep smoking?
Stopping outright may be uneasy for age-long smokers. You can, however, “start stopping” by reducing the number of cigarettes smoked each day, and maintaining some discipline with the reduction.
Stop drinking alcohol
No type of alcohol is safe, really, and the more of it you drink, the higher your chances of having cancer. Excessive alcohol intake leads to cancers of the:
Alcohol acts as an irritant in the mouth and throat, damaging cells which lead to DNA changes as they try to repair themselves. This eventually leads to cancer. Alcohol also damages the liver. It causes hepatitis and cirrhosis. In the colon and rectum, bacteria convert alcohol into large amounts of acetaldehyde, a chemical that causes cancer.
For those trying to stop drinking alcohol, 2 drinks per day for men and 1 for women could be your target till you finally find your way around dropping the addiction. The difference in figures for both sexes is as a result of the slow breakdown of alcohol in the body of women.
Eat healthy diets
Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains lower your risk of many types of cancer. You might also want to reduce your intake of processed and fried foods, sugars, refined carbs, and unhealthy fat. Consider a diet of:
- vegetables such as carrots and Brussels sprout which are rich in carotenoids. They reduce the risk of mouth, pharynx, larynx and lung cancers;
- non-starchy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and beans which reduce the risk of stomach and esophageal cancers;
- strawberries, kiwi, and green peppers so rich in vitamin C protecting against esophageal cancer;
- lycopene-rich foods: guava, tomatoes, and watermelon which lower the risk of prostate cancer.
It is beneficial to have a minimum of five servings of fruit and vegetables daily. Adding some fresh fruit and nuts to your breakfast, and having some beans and vegetables for lunch, with a dinner of potatoes with broccoli, sauteed veggies or salsa will boost your diet and keep you cancer-free.
Why not trim your cancer risk with some exercise? Did you know that one-third of cancer-related deaths are due to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle? People erroneously think that most cancers are caused by genes. No, it’s usually a lifestyle problem. Women with high estrogen level in their blood are at higher risk of breast cancer. Regular exercises reduce blood estrogen, hence, reduce the risk of breast cancer.
You may choose to use the stairs, go dancing, do some house chores, walk around your block after dinner, or just walk to the mall. Whatever it is, ensure you exercise regularly.
How long will you keep procrastinating? Drop the cigarette, ignore the bottles, change your diet and exercise. They’re simple enough. Just start, and they’ll become habits. You really don’t want to have cancer? Then live well.