According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease. Since 2007, more than a million people have died from cancer and another two million have been diagnosed. Cancer affects everyone: patients, survivors, and their loved ones have all experienced the hell of chemotherapy and its debilitating side effects. The good news is, thanks to modern advances in research and medical treatment, cancer is no longer an automatic death sentence and some types of cancer can even be prevented. Here are five ways to reduce your risk:
- Keep the Weight Off: It’s no secret that American’s are unhealthier than ever. Studies have shown that overweight or obese individuals are more than twice as likely to get breast, colorectal, or prostate cancer as those who are not. Maintaining a body mass index (BMI) of less than 24 can significantly reduce your chances of getting cancer.
- Crush the Butt: Smoking can cause a litany of health problems including migraine headaches and sinus problems. It is also the leading cause of lung, larynx, and mouth cancers. Smoking causes an average 85% of lung cancer deaths in men and women. Secondhand smoke has been shown to increase risk of lung cancer by 20 percent. Simply quitting smoking can greatly increase your chance of preventing not only lung cancer, but a host of other diseases.
- Restrict Alcohol: Like anything else, alcohol is best in moderation. However, those who drink to excess can open themselves up to an array of diseases including breast and liver cancer. More than two or three drinks a day can triple your risk of developing alcohol related cancers.
- Don’t Forget the Sunscreen: While suntans look great, it is actually a reaction to the sun’s UV rays. Look at it this way; a suntan is a giant scab. When a tan develops, your skin is trying to prevent further cell damage and turns dark. Overexposure to the sun is the leading cause of painful skin cancer. Sunscreen and protective clothing will help reduce your skins exposure.
- Test, Test, Test: One of the best ways to prevent cancer is to form the habit of regular screening. These measures can take the form of various techniques performed in a hospital or even at home. Testicular and breast self-examinations can be performed at home while mammograms and other testing are usually performed in a clinic or lab.
While cancer is a major problem it does not have to define your life. By following this simple plan, you can greatly reduce your chance of getting a life-threatening disease.