When weighing all the factors, experts say leading a healthy lifestyle is your best bet against cancer

Various studies have already tried to determine the most effective ways to prevent cancer. However, since a lot of factors that determine cancer risk, such as age and genetic predisposition, can’t be controlled, experts suggest studying one’s “family’s medical history and trying to live a healthy lifestyle.”

Cancer-prevention through healthy habits

Maria Baker, professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Penn State Cancer Instituteexplained that while certain elements that define a healthy lifestyle may vary, current recommendations often include regular aerobic activity for about 30 minutes at least five times a week. She added that individuals need to incorporate weight-bearing exercises for each workout session.

Other common suggestions from experts often include the following:

  • Limiting alcohol consumption
  • Limiting sun exposure
  • Observing a balanced low-fat and high-fiber diet with lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Maintaining a healthy weight for one’s age and height
  • Quitting smoking

Baker said that not everyone would benefit from genetic testing to confirm a predisposition to certain types of cancer. She commented that it’s our responsibility to look into our family and personal history.

It’s also up to us to figure out how to tailor screening recommendations. Baker emphasized the importance of communicating with relatives to take note of your family medical history. Having this information is important, so you always have access to data like common disorders and diseases among your family members.

Dr. Sarah Ines Ramirez, a family medicine physician at Penn State Medical Group in Harrisburg, said that in most cases, healthcare professionals would refer to a patient’s medical chart. A patient will also need to answer questions about their habits, lifestyle, occupation, where and who they live with. Patients also have to stay updated when it comes to their screenings and developments in their family or personal medical history.

Although not all patients are aware of the importance of discussing habits like alcohol consumption and smoking or data like body mass index (BMI) and menstrual patterns, these factors often help healthcare professionals monitor screenings that can help catch or prevent cancers at an early stage.

For example, even if you don’t smoke you may be at risk for lung cancer if you are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke.

Dr. Ramirez pointed out that healthcare professionals must also be familiar with certain differences in factors that determine cancer risks among the populations they serve. For example, while cervical cancer rates are highest in Latin women, most casualties occur among African Americans. Dr. Ramirez added that African-American women with breast cancer tend to have more aggressive forms of the disease during diagnosis. (Related: 4 Ways to Lower Stress and Prevent Breast Cancer.)

Dr. Ramirez noted that healthcare professionals would benefit from making an effort to learn more about their patients. She also noted that even those who don’t regularly consult a healthcare professional could be more active when it comes to their health by inquiring about their family health history, asking if they require any preventative treatments, and being honest with a healthcare expert.

She concluded that patients who have certain concerns or worries shouldn’t be afraid to ask healthcare professionals any questions that they might have. After all, prevention is always better than cure.

Other lifestyle tips that can help prevent cancer

Here are other lifestyle tips that can help lower your risk of cancer:

  • Eat lots of dark and leafy greens – If you’re having a salad, make one with dark and leafy greens because the chlorophyll that gives them their color is full of magnesium. According to several studies, magnesium can help lower the risk of colon cancer in women. Try to eat at least half a cup of cooked spinach, which contains 75 milligrams (mg) of magnesium or 20 percent of the daily value.
  • Eat some Brazil nuts – Brazil nuts are rich in selenium, an antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of bladder cancer in women. Selenium protects cells from free radical damage, and they also boost immune function. The antioxidant can also prevent the formation of blood vessels that cause tumors.
  • Stay hydrated – Simply drinking more water can lower your risk of bladder cancer. Staying hydrated can help dilute the concentration of cancer-causing agents in urine, and the water can help flush them out via the bladder faster. Try to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
  • Stick to whole grains – Switch to whole wheat and other whole grains. Pasta, potatoes, sugary pastries, and white bread have a high glycemic load, or a measurement of how quickly food can make your blood sugar rise. Having a high glycemic load means you also have a higher risk of colorectal cancer than women who eat low glycemic load foods. Whole grains usually have a low glycemic load.

You can learn more about cancer and how a healthy lifestyle can help prevent it at Cancer.news.

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