5 (Lesser-Known) Ways To Lower Your Cancer Risks

green apple wrapped in a tape measure(BlackDoctor.org) – To reduce cancer risks, science has already clued us in to a few things we should avoid, such as smoking and overexposure to the sun. But today, thanks to new medical discoveries, there are even more steps we can take to help avoid it completely!

Risk 1: Obesity

Being overweight or obese is a known cancer cause. In fact, excess weight is linked to an increased risk for developing more than a dozen types of cancer, including breast and pancreatic cancers. The American Cancer Society stresses the need to keep your weight in check by, first, eating right:

• Eat a diet that’s limited in processed foods and red meat, five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day and whole grains.

• Limit your alcohol intake to one drink per day for women or two for men.

Risk 2: Lack of Exercise

Diet alone usually isn’t enough to maintain a healthy body and cut your cancer risk. So, pick an activity that suits your level of fitness and get moving.

• Adults should be physically active for at least 30 minutes on five or more days a week.
• Children should engage in physical play for at least 60 minutes five days per week.

Risk 3: Infection

Infections from viruses, bacteria, and parasites are a known cancer risk in up to 20 percent of all cancers. Several of those viruses are sexually transmitted, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

You can reduce your risk for getting these types of viruses by using condoms during sex. Women can reduce their risk of cancer from HPV by getting a vaccine. In fact, the American Cancer Society now recommends the HPV vaccine for girls who are nine and older.

Risk 4: Chemical Exposure

A variety of substances found in common products are known to be a cancer cause. Two of particular interest:

• Asbestos, a fibrous substance, is found in many older buildings where it was used as insulation and as a fire-retardant; inhaling it can cause cancer. So be sure to have your home checked for asbestos before beginning any sort of renovation. Carpenters and other skilled workers who deal with remodeling older homes should investigate proper safety precautions before working in buildings that contain asbestos.

• Tetrachloroethylene is a solvent used in dry cleaning. While wearing dry-cleaned clothes isn’t considered dangerous,
those who work in a dry cleaning business should change clothes after work, wash work clothes regularly, and keep their food out of the work area.

Risk 5: Consumer Products

Antiperspirants, talcum powder, hair dye, aspartame, and some cosmetics have all been reported as possible cancer causes, often incorrectly. The truth is that there is no conclusive evidence that any of these products cause cancer. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues to monitor various studies and issues periodic updates.

In addition to steering clear of the above five potential cancer causers, be sure to stay away from two of the deadliest ones, smoking and sun exposure:

Smoking: Tobacco kills, and is one of the top causes of cancer. Smoking can damage almost every organ in your body and is a known cause of at least 15 different types of cancer. Remember that the risks for cancer aren’t limited to cigarettes – cigars, pipes, chewing tobacco, and the smokelesss tobacco called snuff are all linked to cancer. Secondhand smoke is, too.

Sun Overexposure: About one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States and most are sun related. Melanoma, the most serious skin cancer, can be fatal – while Blacks don’t get this as often, we still tend to die from it in much higher numbers when we do get it. Remember – just because our skin tends to be darker doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be protected. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, embrace the shade, wear protective clothing and protect your eyes with sunglasses that have 99 percent UV absorption – even on cloudy days.

3 Diet Changes That Make All The Difference

fruit on a scale(BlackDoctor.org) — The road to better health can sometimes seem like an uphill battle. But with every small step you take and each healthy decision you make, you do get closer to your goal of improved health, and one of the most effective ways to do this is by eating a balanced, healthy diet.

Think of streamlining your nutrition profile in stages. These three diet changes will not only set you on a healthier path, but will also create incentive to make further adjustments — and before you know it, you’ll feel confident that you can make the right food choices to maintain good health.

How Small Diet Changes Make a Difference

Being fit and healthy doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge in a slice of birthday cake or bowl of ice cream. It just means that you don’t do it every day. As long as you do the right thing most of the time, you will be successful in being healthy. Doing the right thing most of the time means implementing simple dietary changes, which will add up by the end of the week.

Diet Change No. 1: Cut Back on the Booze

It’s amazing how quickly calories add up, especially those you drink. And the empty calories in alcoholic beverages can be the first place to start cutting back.

Limiting alcohol consumption can improve both your diet and your overall health. While drinking in moderation has been found to have a few beneficial effects, drinking more than this amount can have negative effects on health. It’s recommended that men drink no more than two drinks per day, and women drink up to one glass per day. Alcohol consumption — even just one drink — can weaken your diet discipline and lead to overeating, eating unhealthy food, and drinking more than the recommended amount.

To avoid these poor-health pitfalls, set guidelines that make it easier to stick to your alcohol limit. Make a rule not to drink during the week or buy just enough for one serving per evening. Remember, alcohol has calories, and if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s best to opt for water instead.

Diet Change No. 2: Opt for More Vegetarian Meals

You may love hamburgers and barbecue, but aim for at least a couple of vegetarian meals each week. A vegetarian meal can be delicious, filling, and less expensive than a meat-based meal.

A vegetarian meal that isn’t cheese-based is lower in calories and packed with disease-fighting benefits from the additional fiber, antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals that are all found naturally in vegetables. A diet high in vegetables can help lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and certain types of cancer.

If you don’t feel satisfied with an all-vegetable dish, opt for vegetarian recipes with meat-free protein choices, such as beans — garbanzo beans, pinto beans, black beans, and more — and lentils. Beans, split peas, soybeans, and lentils offer low-glycemic carbohydrates with fiber and quality protein. They also stabilize blood sugar, fill you up, and improve energy levels. Try a lentil soup packed with vegetables for a hearty, healthy vegetarian meal.

Diet Change No. 3: Pack Healthy Snacks

When mid-afternoon hits and you’re starting to get hungry again, you may be tempted to visit the vending machine. Avoid this unhealthy food habit by packing your own healthy snacks to bring with you.

Here are a few healthy snack ideas that are easy to pack for work or when you’re on the road:

  • Fresh vegetables with hummus dip
  • Fresh fruit
  • Seeds and nuts — make your own mix of choices such as sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans, and almonds
  • A container of yogurt
  • A few whole-grain crackers
  • A hard-boiled egg
  • Vegetable juice
  • A packet of instant oatmeal
  • Popcorn (without added salt)
  • Low-fat cheese
  • Homemade trail mix with whole-grain cereal and dried fruit

Keep a stash in your desk or bag so that you can grab a quick and healthy snack as soon as you feel your belly start to rumble. And make snacking a regularly scheduled activity. Eating about every three to four hours allows you to maintain energy and focus, as well as lose weight or maintain ideal body composition.

All it takes to start changing your life is a few basic first steps. Before you know it, you’ll be in the habit of making healthier choices for every decision you face.