You may have heard different pieces of advice on how to prevent cancer—some of them conflicting with one another. In reality, the science of cancer prevention is an ongoing process and scientists and doctors are still trying to discover what strategies work best. Overall, the consensus is that your chance of getting cancer is most affected by your lifestyle choices.
Bottom line: if you want to make sure that you have the best chance of preventing cancer, making some simple lifestyle alterations may make the most significant difference. Here are a few of the changes you can make:
Shield yourself from the sun
Although skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer, it’s also one of the most preventable. Here are a few tips for reducing the likelihood of skin cancer:
- Shun the midday sun. Avoid exposing your skin to the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are the most active.
- Linger in the shade. When you need to be outdoors, stay in the shade as long as possible—wearing sunglasses with UV protective lenses and a broad-brimmed hat help, too.
- Cover exposed areas of your body. Cover your skin with tightly woven, loose-fitting clothing that protects as much of your skin as possible. Choose bright or dark colors, since these shades tend to reflect more ultraviolet radiation than pastels or white fabrics.
- Don’t hold back on the sunscreen. Even on cloudy days, you should be using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Put it on lavishly, and then reapply it every two hours. You’ll need to remember to put it on more often if you’ve been swimming or sweating a lot.
Now that we’ve looked at preventing skin cancer, here’s some advice for avoiding other types of cancer:
Eat a nutritious and balanced diet
Although making nutritious choices at the grocery store and during meals may not ensure cancer prevention, you might be able to lessen your risks. Here are a couple of guidelines to keep in mind:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Veggies, nuts, fruits, and other plant-based foods, like whole grains and beans, should be the foundation of your diet, not an afterthought.
- If you drink alcohol, do it in moderation. The risk of developing several varieties of cancer (breast, colon, lung, kidney, and liver) goes up with the amount of alcohol you consume and the period you’ve been drinking regularly.
Keep up a healthy weight and exercise
Sustaining a healthy weight might lower the risk of developing different kinds of cancer, including breast, prostate, lung, colon, and kidney cancers.
Get routine medical exams
You should be conducting regular self-exams, such as the self-exams recommended for breast cancer and testicular cancer. Also, keeping up with the recommended schedule of regular medical screenings for various types of cancers, like skin, colon, cervix, and breast cancer, can improve your prospects of detecting cancer in its early stages, when treatment is most likely to be most effective. Talk to your physician about the most optimal and recommended cancer screening schedule for you. Knowing your family medical history when it comes to cancer will also help your doctor determine when it’s best to start screening for certain types of cancer.
Remember: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This is especially true for cancer prevention. Eat well, exercise and keep going to the doctor and you’ll be more likely to defy the odds when it comes to your health.