Cancer doctors and cancer specialists universally agree that making good lifestyle choices is the best form of cancer prevention. The cancer specialists at St. Joseph Health Cancer Center encourage you to make good lifestyle choices, according to the advice of the Cancer Prevention Foundation.
Despite conflicting reports about what does and does not cause cancer, the CPF offers seven foundational steps for preventing cancer. These seven lifestyle changes can help tremendously.
1. Don't use tobacco
Using any type of tobacco puts you at a much higher risk of cancer. Smoking has been linked to several types of cancer, including lung, bladder, cervix and kidney. Even if you don't personally smoke tobacco, being exposed to secondhand smoke can increase your risk of lung cancer. Chewing tobacco has been linked to tongue, gum, and pancreatic cancer.
Not using tobacco is one of the best actions you can take for your health, including cancer prevention. If you have decided to quit tobacco use, your doctor or cancer specialist can refer you to products and other strategies to help you quit.
2. Eat a healthy diet
Making healthy selections at the grocery store and for your meals can go a long way toward improving your health and meeting your goal of cancer prevention. Though research findings differ, no informed cancer specialist would argue against the benefits of a healthy diet. Here are some guidelines for making good choices:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Your diet should consist primarily of fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources, including whole grains and beans. Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, bok choy and kale are considered beneficial for cancer prevention. These score high for containing many anti-cancer substances, such as isothiocyanates.
- Limit fat. Choose fewer high-fat foods. High-fat diets tend to be higher in calories and might increase the risk of overweight or obesity which can, in turn, increase cancer risk.
- Avoid these foods. Avoid all charred food, which create known carcinogens. Little or no red meat is best. It’s also best to avoid sugar, both white and brown, and heavily salted, smoked and pickled foods, which can lead to higher rates of stomach cancer. It’s a good idea to avoid soft drinks, French fries, chips and snack foods that contain trans fats, and food and drink additives such as aspartame.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation. The risk of various types of cancer, including breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver, increases with the amount of alcohol you drink, and with the number of years you’ve been a drinker.