The holidays and New Year’s Eve are just around the corner. But you don’t have to wait until the stroke of midnight to commit to resolutions to achieve and maintain better health. Cancer prevention should be a life-long goal. So here are things you can do now to lessen your risk and enjoy a cancer-free New Year.
Exercise is crucial for preventing cancer. When our bodies contain large amounts of excess fat, the visceral fat cells leave less room for oxygen to circulate. The low-oxygen environment can lead to inflammation, damaging the body and triggering cancer cells to reproduce.
Physical activity helps keep your weight under control and boosts the immune system. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, 13 cancers are associated with obesity, including:
- Adenocarcinoma of the esophagus
- Cancers of the thyroid
- Ovarian cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Multiple myeloma
- Pancreatic cancer
- Postmenopausal breast cancer
- Kidney cancer
- Stomach cancer
- Liver cancer
- Uterus cancer
Make Better Diet Choices.
Just as there are foods that can increase your risk of cancer, diets can help prevent cancer. Antioxidants play a crucial role in cancer prevention by tracking down free radicals in the body that cause chronic inflammation, which attacks healthy body cells. Include foods high in antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta carotene and vitamin E to help your body enhance white blood cells and build normal red blood cells. Other superfoods associated with cancer prevention include garlic, broccoli, tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, spinach and whole grains.
Because obesity puts you at higher risk of cancer, you should be eating a balanced diet that includes healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. Foods that may increase your cancer risk include processed meats, fried foods, sugar, refined carbs and alcohol. Overcooking foods can also produce carcinogens that can alter the DNA of the cells. Therefore, you should take your cooking methods into account along with your food choices.
Alcohol also increases a person’s cancer risk because it contains carcinogenic compounds which damage DNA. Alcohol also impacts healthy body functions required to break down and absorb essential nutrients that protect the body against cancer. Alcohol also contains sugar and empty calories, contributing to excess fat and weight gain.
Most Importantly: Get Screened.
Detecting cancer early vastly increases the chances of survival. You shouldn’t wait until symptoms present themselves to get screened, especially if you are considered high-risk for cancer. For example, if you are overweight, lack physical activity or have a family history of cancer, you have an increased chance of getting cancer.
Even if you’re not considered high-risk for cancer, you should commit to regular cancer screening, which involves a physical exam for general signs of health and analyzing your family history, health habits and past illnesses. Cancer screening tests are available year-round, and getting one before the year ends means greeting the New Year better prepared! Contact Tampa Bay Radiation Oncology today for screening and treatment options. More than a thousand men and women diagnosed with cancer each year turn to our trusted team of cancer specialists. We encourage you to call us, ask us a question, or consult with us to get a second opinion so you, too, can experience the difference.