Each year, cancer takes the lives of more than half a million Americans.1 As the second leading cause of death in the United States, cancer is no stranger, exceeded only by heart disease. With such high statistics and many lives to its name, it only makes sense to protect ourselves from this deadly condition. Cancer has many possible causes, but many are lifestyle
Many people believe that cancer is solely linked to genetics, and so the risk of getting cancer is out of our hands completely. In actual fact, only 5 to 10 percent of all cancers are genetic.2 That means the other 90 to 95 percent are caused by lifestyle and environmental factors which can be controlled by us. It has been noted that cancers that are not caused by genetic mutations can sometimes appear to “run in the family.” For example, a shared environment or lifestyle factor such as tobacco use or a diet high in animal protein and dairy can play a part in this.
It’s no surprise that smoking tobacco is one of the leading causes of lung cancer. Smoking causes 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer cases and around 30 percent of all cancer deaths.3 Ever since the 1960s, the link between cigarettes and cancer has been brought to the attention of the public.
Smoking damages the internal airways and small air sacs in the lungs, causing inflammation, mucus, and damaged cells. Tobacco smoke is made up of thousands of chemicals, including at least 70 known to be carcinogenic to humans. This means that it’s not just the smokers that are at risk of cancer; it’s those exposed to second-hand smoke, too. The best way to lower your risk of lung cancer is to quit smoking.
Eating a healthy diet can play an important role in reducing your risk of cancer. There have been strong links demonstrated between being overweight and obese and many cancers, such as esophagus, colorectum, breast, endometrium, and kidney. As such, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that diets high in fruits and vegetables had a significant protective effect against many cancers. In a study of an alkaline diet and cancer risks, acidic foods were shown to do the body harm.
It’s recommended, to lower the risk of cancer, that people eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grain foods, and healthy proteins (beans, lentils, and chickpeas). Cancer-causing foods should be eliminated from diets, including processed and red meats, sugary drinks, dairy, and high-calorie fast food. It’s estimated that, if everyone went vegetarian, 7.3 million human lives would be saved from early deaths due to cancers, coronary heart disease, diabetes, and more. If everyone adopted a vegan diet, 8.1 million human lives would be saved.4
Along with poor diet, the lack of physical activity can quickly result in a person becoming overweight or obese. Studies have found that these two factors can increase a person’s cancer risk. The good news is that it’s easier than ever to get active. Remember that you don’t have to get an expensive gym membership to lose weight and stay fit. Simply taking a brisk walk around the park or joining your local fitness class a few times a week can help to improve your overall health and lower your risk of cancer.
At The Center for Advancement in Cancer Education, we provide research-based information on how to prevent, manage, and tackle cancer through simple diet and lifestyle switches. With our assistance, you can take active steps to improve your health.