2008-03-05 / Health

Easy lifestyle changes for reducing cancer

By: Lil Spitzer, Executive Director of Beckstrand Cancer Foundation

In a startling reverse of a two-year downward trend, cancer-related deaths rose by more than 5,000 in 2005, as recently announced by the American Cancer Society. Since the early 1990s, the cancer death rate has been dropping, but the actual cancer deaths continued to rise due to population growth. Contrary to popular belief, up to two-thirds of all cancer cases might be prevented if people applied everything known about cancer prevention to their lives, according to the American Cancer Society. Here are four lifestyle commitments that can be made to reduce the risk of cancer:

Nourish the Body Having a diet based mostly on plants such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans can reduce the risk of cancer by as much as 30-40 percent. Aim for one or two servings of fruit and vegetables at every meal, as well as snacks. In addition, low-fat diets help fight against colorectal, prostate and endometrial cancers. Drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation will also help prevent cancers such as colon, breast and liver.

Work It Out

Thirty to 45 minutes of physical activity a day has a protective effect against some cancers. Some of the most effective ways to increase physical activity is by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking the car in the far end of the lot when shopping. Not only do these simple activities make reaching the recommended levels of exercise attainable, but they also decrease the risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other major health problems.

Avoid the Burn

The most common cancer in the United States is also the most preventable. This year, more than 1 million Americans will be diagnosed this year with skin cancer, which is caused by too much exposure to the sun. Always remember to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going into the sun and reapply it often. Make sure the sunscreen has a SPF of 30 and protects against UV-A and UV-B rays. If being in the sun is a must, cover up with clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses. Those who freckle or burn are the most at-risk for developing skin cancer.

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