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Cancer Health Center

8 Ways to Lower Your Cancer Risk

These lifestyle choices may make cancer less likely.
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4. Plant Your Plate.

There are a number of different foods that may help to prevent certain types of cancer. “For example, tomatoes, watermelon, and other foods containing lycopene have evidence showing that they probably reduce the risk of prostate cancer,” Bender says.

But if you’re aiming to slice your risk of many cancers across the board, load your plate with plants, particularly non-starchy vegetables and fruits. That’s why the AICR report’s No. 4 recommendation is to eat mostly foods that come from plants -- at least 14 ounces every day. The Mediterranean diet, St. Tropez diet, and the green diet all are based on a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Diets that tend to prevent cancer are rich in plant-based foods.

AICR’s “new American plate” plan offers an easy cheat sheet on eating to prevent cancer. Fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains should cover two-thirds of your plate; the other one-third should contain lean meats, fish, and low-fat dairy.

5. Drop the Drink.

When it comes to health, alcohol wields a double-edged sword. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that light alcohol consumption, especially red wine,may be beneficial for heart health.

But on the other hand, it appears that any alcohol consumption can raise your risk of cancer.

“For cancer, there is no safe level of alcohol,” Bender says. “It’s a dose response: The more you drink, the greater the risk, especially for certain cancers like those of the mouth, throat, and esophagus.” And if you smoke, too, the combined effects of drinking and smoking shoot your risk for these up even higher.

What to do? Both the AICR expert report and the American Cancer Society recommend that women limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day, and men no more than two.

6. Shake Off Stress.

“People always want to know if stress can raise your cancer risk,” Ruffin says. “There’s no convincing evidence that, by itself, stress is an independent risk factor for cancer. But what it cando is lead people to engage in unhealthy behavior in an effort to cope with stress. If you’re overeating, drinking, or smoking to self-medicate your stress away, those behaviors all raise your cancer risk.”

So instead, Ruffin recommends finding healthy ways of coping with stress, like exercise (which helps to reducecancer risk), meditation, and journaling.

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