There is no miracle cure for cancer (yet!) but there are some widely accepted lifestyle choices you can make to reduce your risk:
Stop smoking and avoid second hand smoke
Smoking is responsible for 30% off all cancer deaths! Smoking is a large risk factors for many cancers (and other health problems, like heart disease!), and quitting will not only help you eliminate this risk factor, but it will also help you feel better in general.
Have a healthy body weight
A Body Mass Index is a quick way to roughly determine if your body weight falls in to the healthy range. Click here for a link to help you find out your BMI → Mayo Clinic’s BMI calculator
Watch what you eat
Your diet plays an important role in your health. You know that saying, “you are what you eat”? Well, it’s kind of true!
To lower your risk of cancers, you should make sure that your diet includes:
- Lots of fibre (whole grains, quinoa, brown rice, legumes, etc.)
- 5-10 servings of vegetables and fruit each day
- Minimal processed meats and red meat
Research has shown that bring physically active protects against certain types of cancer. It also helps you maintain a healthy body weight and feel good/energetic – win-win-win!
There are so many ways to be active – it doesn’t mean you have to get a gym membership! Try to pick one of these activities five times a week for at least 30-minutes each time:
- Go for a walk
- Ride your bike
- Play a sport (softball, volleyball, soccer, basketball are a few sports that you can enjoy outside during the sunny summer months!)
- Do some gardening
- Go rollerblading
- Dance to 7 of your favourite songs
- Try a yoga class (many studios offer your first one for free!)
- Go bowling
Drink less alcohol
So, some studies show the benefits of drinking red wine. And some studies show the detriments of over-consumption. What the Canadian Cancer Society recommends is that you keep your intake to less than 1 drink a day for women and less than 2 drinks a day for men.
Protect yourself from the sun
Soaking up some sun has a lot of benefits to making us feel good – many people like the warmth, and feel more attractive with a tan. Plus, the vitamin D is great.
HOWEVER, there are some major risks associated with unprotected sun exposure. Here are some things you can do to reduce your cancer risk from sun exposure:
- Wear sunscreen
- Cover up
- Plan your activities for times when the sun isn’t at it’s hottest
- Wear sunglasses
- Do not use indoor tanning beds!
You can get vitamin D (which has also shown to be preventative to some kinds of cancers!) by taking a supplement! Ask one of our staff about Vitamin D next time you’re visiting us.
Practice safe sex
Some STI’s (sexually transmitted infections) can increase a person’s risk of developing certain types of cancer.
You can lower your risk by practicing safe sex. When a lot of people think of safe sex, they think about preventing pregnancy. However, it’s important to have an awareness of STI’s as well. If your preferred method of contraception is not a condom, make sure that you have a conversation with your partner about being tested for STI’s!
Stressful situations can sometimes encourage less healthy choices, such as smoking, overeating or heavy drinking. Do what you can to manage your stress – find out the cause and handle it, practice deep breathing, get a good night’s sleep each night, practice mindfulness, and be physically active (as you can see, a lot of these preventative measures overlap!)
Get regular medical care
Your health care team plays a big role in helping your be your healthiest. For us at the Wellness Pharmacy, our pharmacists can help you in your cancer-prevention efforts by offering your resources for weight loss, quitting smoking, increasing your exercise, eating healthier, and practicing safe sex.
By seeing your doctor for an annual checkup, you have a chance to get some feedback regarding your current state of health so you can focus your efforts where you need to. And, catching most diseases in their early stage, you make it easier for your body to heal.
The Canadian Cancer Society has an excellent interactive tool to raise your awareness about your cancer risk. If you have a few minutes, check it out.