“You have cancer.” The three scariest words to hear. I bet when you or a loved one is diagnosed with conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, you sometimes think, “Well, at least it’s not cancer.” A tremendous fear still exists around a cancer diagnosis. Some of this is justified because despite the fact a war on cancer was launched nearly 50 years ago, cancer remains a leading cause of death. While it is true that we have witnessed a tremendous explosion of new drugs and treatments that target specific cancer cells, treatment is no walk in the park. It might cure you, but it also might decrease your quality of life and not help you live longer.
The biggest myth I hear from people regarding cancer is that it is mostly caused by genetics. That is so wrong! Although genetics play a role in whether or not you will develop cancer, most experts agree it accounts for less than 20% of cancer. The little known truth is that lifestyle and the environment play a major role.
What you eat, how you exercise, how much you sleep, your outlook on life, where you live, and how you live mostly determine if you get cancer. We need to change our mindset from “I hope I don’t get cancer” to “How can I prevent cancer?” Believe it or not, you have the power to reduce your risk of many cancers. There’s more data now than ever before as to what you can do and what you need to do in order to prevent a cancer diagnosis.
Here are four things you can do today to help prevent cancer:
- Treat food like medicine, recognizing everything you put in your mouth will have an effect on your body. That helps you decide whether you choose potato chips or an orange. Try to reduce the amount of red meat, sugar, and processed foods you consume, but also add in fruits, vegetables, and fish. And go ahead and drink that coffee or tea in the morning. They are rich in antioxidants, which help protect our cells from damage. And they also have important vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and riboflavin, which are good for you.
- Sweat a little when you exercise. To get the maximum benefit, consistency, exertion, and variety are key. It’s not just about your number of daily steps. You need to push yourself a little during physical activity.
- Make sleep a priority. Lack of sleep is a stress on your body that increases your risk of disease. Getting quality sleep is critical for your overall health and your personal cancer prevention strategy. You need to stop thinking you will catch up on the weekends because it doesn’t work that way.
- Recognize the mind-body connection. Although we’ve known about this relationship for thousands of years, we are just starting to realize that there is no physical health without mental health. Although you can’t “will yourself” to not get cancer, you can focus on having a positive attitude, practicing gratitude, and reducing the stress that makes your cells more susceptible to cancer.
You have the power to reduce your risk of cancer. Learn more tips as well as the science behind the strategies in Take Control of Your Cancer Risk. https://www.webmd.com/takecontrol