Would you like to live cancer-free for the rest of your life? When I attended World Cancer Day on February 4, I found out that a cancer-free life is a realistic goal. I also learned that for all the medical progress, more people are dying from the disease each year. Incredibly, almost 8 million people die from cancer-related causes every single year, while nearly 13 million discover that they have cancer each year. Experts at the World Cancer Day symposium noted that one-third of all cancer deaths can be cured with early treatment and diagnosis.
I’m no medical expert, but wanted to learn about these highly-touted “prevention methods” and early treatments. What could I do to minimize my risk of ever getting cancer? Closing in on age 60, I’ve been pretty lucky so far. As a former smoker, I always worried that those nasty old cigarettes would one day seek revenge on my lungs or other organs.
Everyday Cancer-fighting Tools
Fingers crossed, so far so good. But the question led me to seek out simple, everyday ways that I could start fighting cancer right now, and as luck would have it, I found out plenty.
What we eat and how much we exercise seem to be the two key components of the preventive cancer battle. That’s fine, I thought, but what to eat? What kind of exercise to do, and how much?
For people who are already relatively healthy, who are physically fit and who eat right, it’s not a bit leap. But I needed help in the food category. Others might need to ramp up their exercise, quit smoking, cut back on alcohol consumption or drop a few pounds.
We’re all different, so the information below will probably apply more to some people than others. Here are the condensed highlights of what I learned about cancer prevention, primarily from the experts at World Cancer Day, Prevention Magazine, and a fantastic website called Cancer.org.:
Add fiber: By eating 25 grams of fiber per day, the average person’s risk of colon cancer is reduced by 25 percent. Anyone can increase their fiber intake which makes this one of the simplest cancer-fighting suggestions on Prevention’s list (compiled by a specialist MD).
Physical activity: Exercise at a moderate level (walk a mile each 20 minutes) for a total of 2.5 hours each week. That boils down to a 30-minute walk every day of the week except on your two days off. An alternative to the “150-minutes of moderate activity per week” guideline is 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a mixture of the two. Walking, jogging, tennis, swimming, and sports that challenge your aerobic capacity are usually good bets.
Eat fish: Choices like sardines, mackerel and salmon are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown time and again to help reduce the risk of several kinds of cancer.
Drink tea: Specifically, include green tea in your regular meal routine. It contains a special type of antioxidant that can boost the immune system and work to prevent cancerous tumor growth.
Increase intake of organic foods: The USDA organic certification means you’ll be avoiding dangerous pesticides which have been linked to several types of cancer. Once thought to be a faddish trend, organic eating has proven its effectiveness over time and has survived rigorous scientific studies.
The “big three” recommendations: Decrease or eliminate completely alcohol consumption to no more than one or two drinks per day. Include a wide variety of vegetables and fruits in your daily meals. Avoid red meats, especially lamb, pork and beef. All have been linked to kidney, pancreas, colon and prostate cancer.
Get screenings and regular checkups: Mammograms, Pap tests and colonoscopies should be a part of routine medical care depending on your age and sex. Annual physical exams are another smart way to catch cancers early in their life cycles, which can make a huge difference in survival rates.
Smoking: If you have never smoked, don’t start. If you do smoke, quit now by joining a cessation program offered by a local hospital or the American Cancer Society. They’re free and they work.
Live Long and Read About How to Beat Cancer
Fitness, smart eating and regular visits to the doctor have been the medical community’s standard advice for decades. When it comes to cancer, heeding those words can mean the difference between life and death. Among the selections below, you’ll find a life-lengthening workout for seniors, a dietary regimen that has the power to prevent cancer and heart disease, and very special book of recipes to ease the pain of those who are currently undergoing cancer treatment.
The Future of Prevention
As medical experts close in on cures for some types of cancer, others are proving difficult to snuff out. Skin-related cancers are just one of the many categories of the disease that seem to be on the upswing, even though enormous efforts have been made to educate the public about ways to reduce this most insidious variety of the deadly disease.
We would appreciate any comments you wish to make on the subject, either in the space below or on our Facebook page. Readers’ individual stories can sometimes serve as a wonderful way for others to learn how to face one of life’s most challenging threats: cancer.