Cancer accounted for 21.3% of deaths in 2017, making it the second leading cause of death in America. Although these statistics are bleak, doctors are continuously making progress to improve the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. Instead of waiting around to hear of new breakthroughs, you can do these 10 actions as listed by Harvard Medical School to prevent cancer.
1. Avoid tobacco.
2. Eat properly. Reduce consumption of saturated fat and red meat, which appears to increase the risk of colon and prostate cancers. Limit your intake of charbroiled foods (especially meat), and avoid deep-fried foods. Increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Although other reports are mixed, two large 2003 studies found that high-fiber diets may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Eat fish two to three times a week to protect against heart disease, and possibly reduce your risk of prostate cancer.
3. Exercise regularly. Physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer, and it may even help prevent prostate cancer. Exercise also appears to reduce a woman’s risk of breast and possibly reproductive cancers.
4. Stay lean. Obesity increases the risk of many forms of cancer.
5. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to one to two drinks a day. Excess alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, larynx (voice box), esophagus (food pipe), liver, and colon; it also increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer.
6. Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation. Check your home for residential radon, which increases the risk of lung cancer. Protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation in sunlight, which increases the risk of melanomas and other skin cancers.
7. Avoid exposure to industrial and environmental toxins such as asbestos fibers, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
8. Avoid infections that contribute to cancer, including hepatitis viruses, HIV, and human papillomavirus.
9. Consider taking low-dose aspirin. Men who take aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs appear to have a lower risk of colon cancer and possibly prostate cancer. It’s an unproven benefit, and aspirin can produce gastric bleeding and other side effects, even in low doses. On the plus side, though, low-dose aspirin does protect men from heart attacks and the most common type of stroke; men at the highest risk reap the greatest benefits.
10. Get enough vitamin D. Many experts now recommend 800 to 1,000 IU a day, a goal that’s nearly impossible to attain without taking a supplement. Evidence suggests that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, and other malignancies.