Avoid the Big C: Doctor Approved Tips to Prevent Cancer
Cancer…scary word, right? It has become such a prevalent disease that there are entire television shows about it giving you plenty of tips to prevent cancer.
Who wouldn’t want to make sure they’re doing everything they can to avoid this deadly disease? Cancer isn’t necessarily an inevitability for many people. There are actually things you can do to help you drastically decrease the likelihood of you getting cancer.
Let TripMedic help you feel as prepared as you possibly can with these tips to prevent cancer.
A Cautionary Tale to Appreciate Tips to Prevent Cancer
You go about your daily life, business as usual. Everything seems perfectly fine. You wake up every day and get yourself ready for work and send your son off to school. Most days are productive at work and have you have the energy to come home and make dinner for your family.
You manage to balance your full-time job with your family life as you always have. Let’s be honest…you’re superwoman!
Then you start to notice small changes.
You feel persistently tired, no matter how much sleep you get. But you attribute that to your five-year-old’s new habit of climbing into your bed every night at 2 a.m.
You have this annoying cough that won’t go away no matter how many cups of tea you drink. However, that could be normal too. The colder months are approaching, and the constantly changing temperature could’ve easily made you catch a cold.
Your ferocious appetite suddenly diminishes. Usually, you can finish a big hamburger and fries with no problems. So that one is a little harder to explain. But you’re busy, and you carry on with business as usual.
Then one day, you’re getting ready for work. You’re putting on your outfit for the day. As you gesture to put on your bra, you feel a lump on the side of your breast.
That’s when you put two and two together. You visit the gynecologist. They have you get a mammogram to check it out. The process is agonizing, but you finally get your diagnosis.
Wouldn’t it be helpful to get some tips to prevent cancer so that you can minimize your risk for situations like this?
“No-Shave November”: A Road to Cancer Prevention
So, why talk about this now?
Maybe you have heard of “No-Shave November”? People around the world commit to not cutting their hair for the entire month of November. Then they post on different channels to document their experiences.
It’s not exactly a new concept but in 2009, the non-profit organization with the same name made it more official.
Their goal is to use this initiative to stir up buzz. In doing so, they create awareness about cancer and raise money for research, education, and prevention. Every year the participation grows. More and more people support the cause, participating by leaving their hair alone and/or donating.
But Wait: What is Cancer?
The idea of cancer isn’t a mystery to anyone. It’s obviously this menacing concept. But do you understand what is going on in your body when you have cancer?
Cancer refers to an abnormality in a group of cells. It is then able to spread to other parts of your body in a process called metastasis.
Every cell in your body has an assignment. However, when a cell becomes cancerous, there is a mutation that interferes in the process. Your cells stop functioning normally, no longer carrying out the job they are coded to do.
Cancer is rampant: it’s the second leading cause of death worldwide.
Considering cancer affects so many people, it only stands to reason that there would be a vested interest in preventing it as much as possible. According to the WHO, between 30% and 50% of cancer cases could have been prevented.
The path to cancer prevention can be split into two major steps.
- Firstly, it’s necessary to make good choices targeting the principal risk factors.
- Secondly, follow up by carrying out the proper screenings to detect different kinds of cancer before you show any symptoms.
When you put them together, you’ll have a 360° approach to consider tips to prevent cancer.
Tip to Prevent Cancer #1: Be Aware of Risky Behaviors
By actively making certain decisions about your daily life, you can reduce your risk of getting specific kinds of cancer. The overall end result could save you the pain and suffering of dealing with cancer altogether.
Keeping these tips to prevent cancer in mind is the most cost-effective strategy to control cancer in the long term. So, it works out in the end.
Part 1: “Smoking: the Most Stylish Way to Cancer.” One of the Top Tips to Prevent Cancer.
Everyone knows at this point that smoking kills. There have been messages on the package for years at this point, warning us. But smoking is still a pretty common habit.
When it comes to a tip to prevent cancer, quitting/avoiding cigarettes is on the top of every list.
Cigarette smoke is chock full of 7000 different chemicals, 250 of which are established as harmful, and 69 are linked to provoking cancer. The noxious nature of the smoke weakens the body’s natural defenses, which then makes it harder to get rid of cancer cells.
According to Very Well Health, lung cancer represents 1 in every 4 cancer deaths. And smoking causes at least 90% of lung cancer deaths.
Doctors assert that smoking is the culprit for the lion’s share of lung cancer cases. However, smoking can also cause cancer in other parts of your body: mouth, throat, pancreas, stomach, bladder, among many others.
And the longer you smoke, the more deadly it is.
Source: Study by William Flanders, Cathay Lally, Jane Henley, and Bao-Ping Zhu about cancer mortality rates.
According to the CDC, within 5-10 years of quitting, the probability of getting certain cancers can be cut in half.
All things considered, making sure tobacco isn’t directly or indirectly (through second-hand smoke) in your life will help you a great deal.
Consult with a general physician if you need some advice to help you quit.
You can also use a video consultation to get more tips to prevent cancer.
Are e-cigarettes safer than normal tobacco?
And don’t be fooled. Smokeless cigarettes are often advertised as being much better for you. That certainly may be the case regarding some issues (they expose you to fewer harmful chemicals, for example). But in terms of cancer, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco can still give you cancer down the line.
Part 2: Let’s Get Physical and Eat Right
It’s fundamental to keep a close eye on your weight for many reasons. Being at a healthy weight range for your sex, height, and age will make you feel a lot more invincible. Steering clear of being overweight is an important tip to prevent cancer. It can lower your risk of getting breast, endometrial, kidney, and several other kinds of cancers.
Making sure you have a healthy diet and maintain an appropriate level of physical activity is, therefore, paramount.
When it comes to your diet, focus your attention on eating foods that help you maintain a healthy weight. The specific foods will vary from person to person, but there are some that everyone can keep in mind:
- Vegetables of many kinds. You get extra points for dark green, red and orange, cruciferous (like broccoli and cabbage), and legumes.
- Fruits of all colors and varieties, especially citrus fruits like grapefruits.
- Whole grains, instead of processed grains, because of the extra fiber and nutrients they possess.
- Use olive oil instead of butter or lesser quality oils.
Also, try to limit or eliminate as much as possible the following foods:
- Red meat like beef, pork, lamb, goat, etc.
- Processed meats like hot dogs, deli meats, bacon, and sausage.
- Highly processed foods like industrially made desserts, candy, and ready-to-eat meals.
- Added sugars like in soda
- Spicy foods
Think about, as well, if you have enough Vitamin D in your diet. You can find it in foods like fatty fish, a selection of mushrooms, and foods with added Vitamin D like milk. Vitamin D helps you maintain bone health, which then reduces some cancers.
When it comes to exercise, just keep some basic guidelines in mind:
- For adults: 150 – 300 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 – 150 minutes of intense physical activity a week.
- For children and teens: at least 1 hour of moderate to intense physical activity every day.
Moderate activity is anything that gets you breathing the way you would during a brisk walk. You should be able to talk at the same time, but not sing. Intense activity is anything that gets your heart rate up a lot more, causing you to sweat and breathe faster. You can find many examples for both:
- Moderate: yoga, dance, pilates, walking, riding a bike, etc.
- Intense: interval cardio training, weight training, running, high paced dancing, jumping rope, etc.
Lastly, try to limit the amount of time you sit as much as you can. Yes, that can be hard at the office, but there are always ways to work around it. Take a break every once in a while, and walk around the office, for example.
All of the above recommendations will help you keep your weight in a healthy range. This will not only make you feel better but also lower your risk of getting cancer.
Part 3: Keep Your Drinking Under Control
The amount you drink can also be risky for different kinds of cancer such as liver, colorectal, breast, oral cavity, etc. The more you drink, the higher the risk.
If you define one drink of alcohol as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of hard liquor, according to the Mayo Clinic a good tip to prevent cancer is:
- For women of all ages and men over 65, one drink a day maximum.
- For men 65 or younger, two drinks a day maximum.
That’s not to say you should drink every day because that could cause other complications. You don’t have to jam all of your drinks that you didn’t have throughout the week in one day either. Just try to drink in moderation, and it could reduce your risk of getting cancer.
Part 4: Get Your Vaccines: A Lesser-Known Tip to Prevent Cancer
Getting vaccinations is often a controversial topic. Regardless of the different opinions that exist, the HPV (human papillomavirus) and Hepatitis B vaccines are essential to lowering cancer risk.
Hepatitis B is linked to liver cancer, while HPV can increase your chances of getting cervical cancer.
The hepatitis B vaccine is administered at birth, and the HPV vaccine can be started as early as 9 years old. Talk to your pediatrician to make sure you organize getting vaccinations in a timely manner.
Part 5: Here Comes the Sun…But Not Over the Top!
The sun is a great source of Vitamin D, so it’s a good idea to spend time outside. But, as a tip to prevent cancer, you should take specific precautions.
The ultraviolet rays in sunlight are harmful and can cause many kinds of cancer, including leukemia and skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma).
Accordingly, you should avoid spending too much time with direct exposure to the sun. Always use sunblock and protective clothing and accessories (like hats) to protect your skin.
And as much as you may want to go for the bronzed look, tanning devices also put you at risk of getting cancer.
Part 6: The Things You Can’t Control
The pollution in the air and carcinogens, which you may be breathing due to your job (like asbestos), can cause lung cancer. Therefore, it’s a good idea to be cautious. Use the appropriate safeguards when possible, such as a breathing mask.
Lastly, always be aware of any ongoing health conditions you may have and your family history. Neither will guarantee that you will or won’t get cancer. But knowing these two things will inform how you deal with cancer screenings.
Tip to Prevent Cancer #2: Pursue the Appropriate Screenings
Besides the active choices you can make in your daily life to improve your chances of not getting cancer, you can also pursue the proper screenings.
The previous lifestyle choices will help you prevent cancer, lowering your chances of getting cancer. The following screenings described in detail can also help you prevent cancer, but they are more effective in early diagnosis. This refers to recognizing cancer-like symptoms as early as possible in order to give the patient the highest probability of surviving.
The earlier you catch cancer in your body, the better it will respond to treatment. Based on your age and the type of cancer, it is prudent to add screenings to your health routine.
This tip to prevent cancer can be applied to people who are symptomatic and asymptomatic.
Continue reading to find out the most common cancer screening tests.
What to Know About Breast Cancer Screenings
To be 100% honest, many women have fibrous lumps in their breasts. However, not all lumps are an indication of cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, an important tip to prevent cancer for women is to familiarize yourself with how your breasts look and feel normally. This way, if you develop a new lump, you can get it checked.
- Women between 40 and 44 should start considering introducing cancer screenings using mammograms.
- Women between 45 and 54 should get a mammogram once a year.
- Women 55 and older can either continue getting a mammogram once a year or switch to every other year.
Consult with your gynecologist about how to do self-exams as an extra layer of precaution.
What to Know About Colon and Rectal Cancer Screenings
You have different options when it comes to screening for colon and rectal cancer.
One option is to analyze a stool sample, looking for signs of cancer. The other option is a visual exam, looking at the colon and the rectum. Consult your doctor to find out which would work best for you.
- Start regular screenings by 45 years old.
- From 76 to 85 years old, discuss with your doctor if you need to continue screenings.
- Screenings are no longer necessary past 85 years old.
What to Know About Cervical Cancer Screenings
Similar to vaccinating against HPV reduces the risk of getting cancer, testing for HPV is the primary way to screen for cervical cancer.
- People under 25 don’t need to be tested because cervical cancer doesn’t tend to happen in that age group.
- People between 25 and 65 should be tested every 5 years.
- People over 65 who have had regular tests and have had favorable results can discontinue screening.
You should still conduct screenings even if you’ve been vaccinated against HPV.
While your gynecologist can test for HPV through a Pap exam, there are tests specific to HPV. Both men and women are susceptible to HPV, so everyone should include these tests as a tip to prevent cancer.
What to Know About Lung Cancer Screenings
Not everyone needs to screen for lung cancer. Only people with specific characteristics should get yearly lung cancer screenings:
- People between 55 and 74 in relatively good health
- People who smoke or quit within the past 15 years
Essentially, if you’re a non-smoker, this is not something you have to think about.
Most Common Tests and Procedures Involved in Screenings
To carry out screenings for different kinds of cancers, doctors will use a variety of testing methods. Here is a list of the most common ones:
- CT Scan (Computed Tomography Scan): This is a quick and painless test that shouldn’t take more than 10 to 30 minutes. It helps doctors find cancer in the body and look for signs of spreading. The test helps detect the size and shape of a tumor by producing a cross-section image of the body.
- MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): This is another test that helps doctors find cancer in the body and judge if it has spread. It will help your doctor map out a treatment course for you. It’s painless, but not as quick as a CT Scan since it takes 45 to 60 minutes and up to 2 hours. It also produces an image of a cross-section of the body, but it also includes the soft tissue, which isn’t as easy to see in other tests.
- X-rays (Radiographs): This helps locate cancer in the lungs and bones. X-rays are fast and painless for the patient. They produce a shadowy image of the area in question. They have the added advantage of being quicker to do than a CT Scan or an MRI, although less specific.
- Nuclear Medicine Scans (Nuclear Imaging): There are different kinds of this test based on the area of the body. It also helps doctors find cancer in the body and determine metastasis. It produces an image similar to thermal imaging cameras.
- Ultrasound (Sonogram): This helps doctors quickly locate cancer in parts of the body when it’s not very visible in an x-ray. It is a quick and painless test that usually takes 20 to 30 minutes. It produces images of soft tissue.
- Mammogram: This is a type of x-ray that is used to help find breast cancer. It’s quick and painless, but notoriously uncomfortable.
- Endoscopy procedure: This is used to screen for esophageal, stomach and colon, and rectal cancer. The doctor uses a tube-like instrument in order to look inside your body.
- Biopsy: The doctor extracts a small piece of tissue to collect a sample to detect cancer.
- Cytology test: The doctor will look at a single cell or small group of cells to detect cancer. This can also be applied to body fluids such as urine, phlegm, etc.
- Dermatoscopic examination: A dermatologist examines your skin using a special kind of lamp. Any abnormalities are removed, when necessary.
The information available about cancer is endless. There are encyclopedias and whole professions that revolve around the subject, after all. You can consult many sources to compile all the information you need about cancer prevention. OR you can consult something that talks about all the essential tips to prevent cancer in one place. Let this be your window into making the best choices for yourself, keeping you as healthy as possible.