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Awareness // December 23, 2015 MAAC Staff

Setting Healthy New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s is a time of renewal and change. It’s a time to dedicate yourself to living a new life – the life you want to live – and making an active decision to being more deliberate in your daily lifestyle.

One of the goals that many people make at New Year’s is to become healthier. This is a laudable goal, and with the right level of focus and determination, it’s a goal that anyone can reach.

Choose a Healthy Lifestyle to Avoid Cancer

There are a number of things that contribute to the development of cancer, from genetic predispositions to environmental hazards, such as asbestos or other carcinogenic materials. The long and short of it is that some of these things we can control, and some of them we can’t.

One thing that is certain: Study after study has shown that living a healthier lifestyle can help you avoid many different types of cancer. Some have even claimed that as much as 95% of cancers are caused by environmental factors or lifestyle habits.

Since there is no reliable cure for cancer, the best thing we can do is to adopt habits that prevent cancer in the first place.

Lifestyle Changes to Avoid Cancer

There are many different ways to live healthier. We’ve put together this list of things you can do to help reduce your risk for developing cancer.

Eat (and Drink) Healthy

Approximately one third of all cancers are caused by diet, and eating well is perhaps the single-most effective way to help prevent cancer. Many different types from more common cancers like colorectal or breast cancer to rarer forms of cancer have an increased chance of developing in people who eat poorly.

Some of the ways that eating can help you prevent cancer include:

  • Increase the amount of fruits, vegetables and nuts you consume on a daily basis
  • Reduce your intake of meats, especially red meat, pork and processed meats of any kind
  • Stay away from fried foods of any kind
  • Choose whole grains over refined or processed grains
  • Drink lots of water, consume alcohol in moderation, and avoid sugary drinks
  • Coffee and tea are okay, but limit the extras you put in them, such as sugar and cream

Quit Smoking

Cigarette smoking is the most common form, but really any kind of smoking is bad for you. Smoking cigars and cigarillos can lead to cancer even if you don’t inhale. Other forms of inhaled combustibles may be just as bad.

The American Lung Association (ALA) has stated that smoking marijuana is harmful to lung health, in part because marijuana smokers tend to inhale more deeply than cigarette smokers. Marijuana can contain as many, if not more, carcinogens as tobacco cigarettes, including tar, and it may damage lungs in other ways, so as to make it easier for cancer to develop. In the case of medicinal marijuana, the ALA highly recommends a form of delivery other than smoking.

Finally, there is no evidence that e-cigarettes are any better for you in preventing cancer. A study published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that e-cigarette vapor contains high levels of formaldehyde, which is a toxic, allergenic and carcinogenic substance. Formaldehyde has been specifically linked with cancer in nasal sinuses, as well as leukemia and other forms of cancer.

Ultimately, the best approach is to avoid smoking altogether. If you don’t smoke, you should still be wary of second-hand smoke from any of these sources.

Exercise Regularly

Exercising consistently is another great way to stay healthy and help prevent cancer. The National Cancer Institute has listed at least half a dozen ways in which exercise helps you stay healthy:

  • Maintains healthy muscles, joints and bones
  • Increases cardiovascular health, thereby reducing the risk of death from heart disease
  • Controls weight, thus helping overcome or preventing obesity
  • Manages and reduces the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Promotes psychological well-being
  • Lessens the overall risk of premature death

In addition to helping your overall health, many of these things help reduce the risk of developing cancer. For example, obesity has been strongly linked with certain forms of cancer. Since exercising regularly can help you lose or manage your weight, it’s also a great way to prevent cancer from developing in your body.

In particular, a multitude of studies have shown that the risk of colon cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer are all reduced in people who exercise regularly. Since nearly 50% of all people do not engage in enough physical activity, exercise is a way to make a big impact on the effects of cancer in our society.

Inspect Your Home

Environmental risks of cancer are not limited to what we eat, whether we smoke, or how much we exercise. There are also plenty of hidden hazards right in our homes.

If you think your home might contain any of the following dangers, you should hire a professional to inspect, and possibly remove, any potential carcinogens and other toxic substances:

  • Mold
  • Asbestos
  • Radon
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Cleaning supplies and garden chemicals
  • Beauty products with phthalates
  • Certain types of paints and varnishes

These risks may be more prevalent in homes that are a bit older. Contact a certified professional for specific advice about the substances in your home.

Have a Healthy New Year!

While there is no guarantee, doing all of these things should drastically reduce the risk of developing cancer for you and your loved ones. And if you are already doing all these things, help spread the word so that others can learn from your exemplary lifestyle!