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Cancer-Reducing Resolutions to Make and Keep

December 23, 2020

It’s that time of year when we dream up resolutions aimed at making us thinner, richer, happier or better partners. Here’s something you can add to the top of that list: Resolve to live a long, healthy, cancer-free life.

Many Cancers Are Preventable

Cancer is not a singular ailment. Instead, the term describes more than 100 diseases characterized by abnormal and invasive cellular growth. Some of them are related to our genes, but others are linked directly to lifestyle and our environment. Last year more than 1.8 million people were diagnosed with some form of cancer. Half of those cases could have been avoided through prevention and early diagnosis. 

What You Should STOP Doing

As with any list of resolutions, it’s not always what you hope to do, but also what you want to stop doing. With that in mind, here are five things you can eliminate from your life to cut your chances of developing several forms of cancer:

  • Stop using tobacco. Tobacco is linked to many cancers, including lung, colorectal, breast, throat, cervical, bladder, mouth and esophageal. Notably, 90 percent of lung cancers are blamed on smoking. 

  • Stop excessive alcohol consumption. Men who consume as little as two alcoholic drinks per day and women who consume as little as one drink per day have a greater chance of developing liver cancer, studies have shown. 

  • Stop eating sodium nitrate. Processed meats like bacon and ham often use sodium nitrate as a preservative. Eating too much of it, along with salt, contributes to increased rates of bowel and stomach cancers, research shows.

  • Stop having unprotected sex. In addition to preventing unwanted pregnancies and a host of sexually transmitted diseases, condoms can substantially decrease your risk of infection by human papillomavirus (HPV), which is linked to at least six types of cancer, including the vast majority of cervical and anal cancers.

  • Stop worshipping the sun. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, with 85 percent of cases linked to overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. But remember, it’s not just the sun that puts out UV rays. You can get them from tanning beds and other sources as well. 

What You Should START Doing

Now that we’ve cut a bad habit or two from your life, let’s look at things you can start doing to give you a better shot at living cancer-free. 

  • Start eating a healthy diet. Increase your consumption of healthy fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Cut back on the sugar and red meats — instead, eat fish, chicken and interesting spices. A poor diet contributes to obesity and diabetes, which are directly linked to colorectal, kidney and pancreatic cancers.

  • Start exercising. Adding moderate exercise will improve your cardiovascular health. But it also will cut your risk of colon cancer by up to 40 percent. And if you’ve already had cancer, exercise can make a big difference in preventing a recurrence.

  • Start getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D helps maintain strong bones, boosts the body’s calcium absorption and can improve heart health. Vitamin D3 can even reduce the risk of breast cancer, a recent study suggests. It can be found in fish oil, egg yolks, butter, dietary supplements and, yes, even sunlight (but remember not to overdo it with the sun).

  • Start being proactive with your health. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is an old adage that still applies today. See your doctor regularly, maintain a schedule of recommended cancer screenings (mammograms and colonoscopies, for example) and take advantage of immunizations for HPV and hepatitis.

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