Preventing cancer gains considerable importance because cancer is almost always associated with death by the general population. This post explains the various ways that can help prevent cancer from childhood to adulthood.

Cancer differs from other diseases because of the fear in us that getting cancer will definitely result in early and agonizing death.

Though that may be partially true, it is relevant to mention here that cancer statistics tell us that only a little more than 50% of cancer patients die worldwide. Survival rates too do not look bad.

Survival from cancer is possible and there are many factors that determine this — early detection of cancer being the most important factor.

Cancer treatment has advanced, but it has side effects, which are worse than most of the major diseases. Preventing cancer across our lifetime, therefore, gains importance. The fact that one-third of cancer cases are preventable only substantiates this.

Several causes and risk factors can give you cancer. One way to start cancer prevention is to disassociate yourself from these factors.

How to prevent cancer in your child?

Taking steps to prevent cancer in your child starts during pregnancy. There are factors that can reduce the risk of cancer in the baby while it is growing in the womb.

  • Get enough folic acid during pregnancy.
  •  Observe optimal breastfeeding practices. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months. Later, it should be continued with the introduction of suitable foods for 1 year or more.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol, smoking,  and tobacco use during pregnancy.
  • Encourage the child to play outdoor games to ensure enough physical activity.
  • Keep the child away from secondhand smoke.
  • Try to keep the child away from pollution.
  • Avoid getting him exposed to cancer-causing chemicals.
  • Try and avoid the child’s unnecessary exposure to radiation caused by x-rays, CT scans, etc.

How to prevent cancer among youth?

  • Complete HPV vaccine series 
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. These foods help fight cancer.
  • Engage in 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • Avoid exposure to pollution and harmful chemicals
  • Avoid too much exposure to the sun.
  • Do not smoke or use tobacco
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiological investigations such as CT scans

14 ways that can help prevent cancer in adults

Cancer prevention involves three strategies:

  • Healthy living habits. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle primarily involves avoiding cancer risk factors and embracing those that reduce your risk.
  • Healthy diet. A healthy diet helps you maintain the proper weight and keep your immunity high
  • Regular screening for cancer, especially if you have a family history and are prone. This will help in early detection.

1) Avoid smoking and tobacco

  • That tobacco is classified as Group A (or 1) carcinogen is enough to warn us of its effectiveness in causing cancer.
  • Smoking has been associated with cancers such as cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix, and kidney.
  • Chewing tobacco can cause cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke increases your risk of lung cancer.

Read some more warning details in Tobacco and Cancer.

2) Obesity and cancer

Obesity contributes to having a high risk of getting many types of cancer. The association between obesity and cancer risk is well established

Research has shown that excess body fat, which is associated with obesity increases your risk for more than a few cancers, such as colorectal, breast, uterine, kidney, and pancreatic cancers. Experts, though not sure, believe it’s largely due to the inflammation caused by excess visceral.

Maintaining a healthy weight, therefore, is essential to reduce your cancer risk.

You can do this by:

  • Regular physical activity. Go for 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week. Aerobic exercise will be ideal to lose weight.
  • Eating a healthy diet. Fill at least 2/3 of your plate with vegetables, fruit, whole grains, or legumes, and 1/3 with animal protein.
  • Limit alcohol intake. If you drink alcohol, limit to one drink (60 ml) per day if you are a woman, and two per day if you are a man. Know about safe drinking limits.
  • Get enough sleep. Several studies have shown that sleep deprivation (i.e., regularly sleeping less than 7 hours) is a risk factor for obesity.

3) Protect yourself from the sun

An early morning soft sunlight is okay. But, the harsh sunlight of late morning onwards can cause skin cancer, which is quite common. Research indicates that overexposure to the ultraviolet rays present in the sunlight greatly increases the risk of getting skin cancer and is the No1 cause of skin cancer.

Avoid exposure to the sun between 10 am to 5 pm, but if you have to, wear protective clothing and headgear and use a sunblock of at least 15 SPF. Similarly, avoid sun lamps and tanning beds. Overexposure to sunlight for years can cause skin cancer typically of skin areas that are usually exposed to sunlight, eg arms, hands, and ears.

4) Exercise regularly

Give 30 minutes daily for a moderate to a vigorous workout. It will reduce your risk of getting breast cancer and colon cancer by as much as 40%. Exercise will also help you maintain a proper weight and again reduce your cancer risk due to being overweight.

Physical activity reduces your cancer risk by maintaining a proper energy balance, better insulin regulation and hormone metabolism, and boosting your immune system. These benefits of exercise are well known

5) Immunize yourself

Certain infections, like Hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV), do cause cancer. Have yourself immunized against these viral infections.

HPV strains are responsible for nearly all cervical cancers and some other cancers.

Hepatitis B can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is especially recommended for certain high-risk adults such as those who are sexually active with multiple partners, those with sexually transmitted diseases, people who use intravenous drugs, men who have sex with men, and health care workers who are often exposed to infected needles, infected blood or body fluids.

6) Practice safe sex

HIV and HPV patients are high-risk candidates for cancer. HPV infection can cause cancer of the cervix, vagina, vulva, anus and the penis. Avoid polygamy or always use a condom. Regular screening of women with such a lifestyle by Paps smear, twice a year,  is advised for an early detection of any cancer, if present.

7) Avoid excess sugar

The National Cancer Institute published a study which indicates that women who had a high sugar diet had a greater risk of getting colorectal cancer. The explanation could be that cancer cells metabolize 8 times greater than normal cells. (Cancer cells vs normal cells)

Secondly, cancer cells metabolize by fermentation and not oxidation as normal cells do. And fermentation is a process which requires sugar. So avoid high sugar in your diet to avoid cancer.

8) Limit your alcohol intake to prevent cancer

The more alcohol you consume, the greater are the chances of getting cancer. Limit alcohol consumption to one peg (60 ml) for women and two pegs for men. Alcohol can cause cancer of the liver, breast, mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, colon, and rectum. The combination of alcohol and tobacco is a very high-risk factor for getting cancer.

How does alcohol cause cancer?

The following theories are being propounded:

  • Alcohol is converted into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde in the body. Acetaldehyde stimulates the liver cells to grow and multiply at a faster rate. These fast-growing cells are more likely to mutate and become cancerous.
  • Alcohol increases the secretion of hormones such as estrogen, testosterone, and insulin. As explained in causes of cancer and obesity and cancer, high levels of estrogen and progesterone are associated with breast cancer while high levels of testosterone are linked to cancer of the prostate.
  • Excessive drinking causes cirrhosis of the liver which makes one susceptible to liver cancer.

9) Use disposable needles

Nowadays, mentioning this is not necessary, as it is become a mandatory practice to use disposable needles. But there are some underdeveloped countries and areas, where reusable needles are being used even by the medical fraternity. This greatly increases one’s chances of getting AIDS or hepatitis B, which predisposes to cancer.

10) Avoid oral contraceptives

Oral contraceptives contain estrogen and progesterone, which can cause cancer. According to the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Center, women who took these hormone pills were at a greater risk of dying from cancer of the breast, uterus and lung.

11) Avoid exposure to chemicals that cause cancer

This could be an occupational hazard or due to living in areas that are exposed to such carcinogenic environments. Either due to inhalation or direct contact, certain chemicals or their vapors can cause cancer.

They include pesticides, benzene, nickel, uranium, nickel, glass wool, rock wool and radon, gasoline, and diesel vapors. They can cause many types of cancers such as cancer of the lung, kidney, and bladder.

12) Mental stress and cancer

Studies conducted show conflicting conclusions about the direct relationship between emotional stress and cancer. But the fact remains that under heavy mental stress, one does tend to drink more alcohol, smoke more cigarettes, and eat more which can cause obesity. Probably, that is how mental stress is associated with cancer risk.

Managing stress and increasing your stress threshold, therefore becomes important. There are many ways to handle stress and you could try any or all of them to see which helps you the most, Meditation has proved to be very helpful to many people.

13) Eat cancer-fighting foods

Last but probably the most important factor to prevent cancer is to have proper foods that can help prevent cancer. See to it that you get your regular intake of

  • Whole grains,
  • Fruits,
  • Green leafy vegetables,
  • Nuts,
  • Limit your fat intake especially from animal foods. Research has concluded that  eating large amounts of processed meat can increase cancer risk.

14) Screening to prevent cancer

Cancer screening is advised for those who have a family history of cancer or are prone to get cancer. This will help in early detection, which greatly increases the chances of survival. If you harbor any risk factors, talk to your health provider to screen yourself for cancer.