February is National Cancer Prevention Month.
About one of every three Americans will develop some form of cancer during his or her lifetime. The only real way to substantially reduce occurrence and mortality for any disease is through prevention.
We’ve come a long way in cancer treatment but advances in treatment can only do so much.
The World Health Organization believes that between 30-50% of all cancer cases are preventable. They also say that prevention offers the most cost-effective long-term strategy for the control of cancer.
A common misconception about cancer is that there are no known causes. The truth is, certain factors can increase your risk of cancer and cause cell mutations. You can, however, try to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Below are the ten commandments of cancer prevention, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
- Avoid tobacco in all its forms, including exposure to secondhand smoke.
- Eat properly and try to reduce your consumption of saturated fat and red meat, while increasing your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Exercise regularly.
- Stay lean. Obesity increases the risk of many forms of cancer.
- Limit alcohol to one to two drinks a day.
- Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation.
- Avoid exposure to industrial and environmental toxins such as asbestos fibers, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
- Avoid infections that contribute to cancer, including hepatitis viruses, HIV, and the human papillomavirus.
- Make quality sleep a priority.
- Get enough vitamin D. Although protection is far from proven, evidence suggests that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, and other malignancies.
The truth is that cancer prevention is boring to read about. You’re smart enough to know that if you did those 10 things it would be good for you. And you try to do them, as many as you can.
Unfortunately, you don’t always make yourself a priority.
Here’s the secret to making them work for you. Make them enjoyable. Explore new recipes, workout with a friend, use luxurious sheets and expose yourself to essential oils instead of toxins.
But what if there was more to it?
I believe a few of the best cancer preventions were left off this list. The ten commandments might be enough for some people, but others want prevention on a deeper level. We want a holistic approach to prevention just as we do to disease.
Here are my additional lifestyle recommendations for cancer prevention:
- Manage your stress: This is key to preventing any kind of illness, from a cold to cancer. Stress reduces our immune system’s ability to fight off disease.
- Drink water: Staying hydrated keeps the circulatory system working properly and cleanses the body inside and out.
- Dry brush: A simple technique that supports the lymph system as it removes toxins from the body.
- Find your tribe: Spend time with people who get you. Personal connection reduces our stress and helps us live longer. Your tribe doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to be family.
Cancer prevention doesn’t just happen in the month of February, it happens every month. The good news is that all the things that prevent cancer also prevent other diseases as well.
Make healthy choices.