More than 1 million people develop cancer every year. It is the second-leading cause of death in the United States. Although cancer can develop at any age, 77 percent of the people diagnosed are over the age of 55. Cancer begins when cells in a particular part of the body begin to grow abnormally and spread, forming masses of tissue called tumors.
Here are some clinically proven ways your lifestyle can help reduce your risk of cancer:
- Maintain a healthy weight. The average adult now weighs 30 pounds more than the average adult did 30 to 40 years ago. Weight gain associated with getting older can be avoided if we learn to consume lower fat, lower calorie foods, eat out less often and be physically active for at least 30 to 60 minutes per day.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Women need seven, men need nine and children need five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Most of us are a long way from those recommendations. To get closer, eat at least one cup of vegetables at both lunch and supper and enjoy fruit at every meal. Between meals, snack on vegetable juices, dried or fresh fruit, vegetable soups or cut-up raw vegetables.
- Choose whole grains at least three times a day.Substitute whole wheat bread for white bread, brown rice for white rice, whole wheat pasta for white pasta and whole grain cereals for refined cereals. Also try whole wheat couscous and quinoa.
- Limit your red meat intake. To get enough protein, eat more beans and peas, small amounts of nuts and nut butters, and skinless poultry and fish. If you do choose to eat meat, keep the portion to the size of a deck of cards and fill the rest of the plate with vegetables and whole grains.
- Limit alcohol to one drink or less a day for women and two drinks or less a day for men. One drink is the equivalent of 12 ounces of beer, 1 1/2 ounces of distilled liquor or 5 ounces of wine.
- Limit the number of energy-dense foods that you consume. Energy-dense foods include sugary drinks, fast foods and foods high in fat.
- Do not eat more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Processed and restaurant foods tend to contain a lot of hidden sodium. Try to choose fresh, less processed food whenever possible.
- Try to breast feed your baby exclusively for at least the first six months of life. Breast feeding provides protective benefits for both mother and child.
- Do not use tobacco products. Smoking and chewing tobacco increase your risk for developing lung, throat and mouth cancer.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 to protect your skin from the sun. Sunglasses and a hat will protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.
- Get screened. Have your doctor screen you regularly for cancer. Early detection saves lives.