Cancer can be a frightening disease, but if you and your loved ones take simple precautions, you will both reduce your risk of cancer and increase detection of early signs of cancer. Treatment for cancer is most effective when detected early, which means it is important for you to pay attention to changes in your health and body. Recommended changes in behavior are simple, but are most effective when implemented regularly.
What are some of the basic lifestyle changes your can make to reduce your risk of cancer?
- Avoid smoking and tobacco use. This is an obvious one, but still important, as smoking and tobacco use result in almost 30 percent of all cancer deaths.
- The food we consume influences more than the numbers on our scales, it also affects the likelihood of prostate and colon cancers. High fiber intake especially reduces the risk of colon cancer.
- Even if you do not lose weight, regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of colon, prostate, breast, and reproductive cancers.
- Limit alcohol intake. If you are a regular drinker, stick to one-to-two drinks per day. Excessive drinking can increase likelihood of mouth, larynx, esophageal, liver, and colon cancers. Women who drink excessively are also more vulnerable to breast cancer.
- Regular medical care. In addition to regular screenings with your physician, regular self-examination increases the chances of early discovery and, therefore, introduction of treatment.
- Skin protection. Skin cancer may be one of the most common kinds of cancer, but it is also one of the most preventable. Regular use of sunscreen combined with avoidance of tanning beds and/or sunlamps has been proven to reduce the likelihood of skin cancer.
As is true with most areas of individual health, your active participation in cancer prevention is critical. If you see or feel a change in your physical health, do not panic, but do schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Even if it results in being a minor issue, you will be relieved to know that you took the necessary steps to prevent and detect cancer.
Most all of us want to improve our fitness and health in one way or another and the beginning of a new year is a good time to begin a plan to get fit – or, get back on track. It’s a tough task to sift through all the information out there on how to do this and figure the best ways to reach your goals. But if you start with three main areas to attack, your goals won’t be as overwhelming you’ll make progress and then may even be ready to add more objectives to a “Get Fit” plan.
Tip #1: Get a good night’s sleep
It’s possible you may be worn out and not feeling great because you’re not getting enough sleep. For the body to function at its best, the National Sleep Foundation points out adults need about seven to nine hours of sleep per day while children (ages 12-18) need eight to nine hours of sleep. You may not be able to control all the factors that interfere with nighttime rest but if you keep these habits in mind you will be encouraging yourself to have a better sleep:
- Stick to a sleep schedule – Go to bed and get up at the same time each day, if possible. Being consistent reinforces the body’s sleep-wake cycle and helps promote better sleep.
- Pay attention to what you eat and drink. Don’t go to bed either too full or hungry. Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol can disrupt sleep too so use cautiously!
- Create a bedtime ritual and do the same things each night when it’s time to sleep. Relaxing activities like listening to soothing music or reading a book (works for adults and children!) are good choices.
Tip #2: Add more fruits and vegetables to your family’s diet
This one is simple to remember. Just reach for the produce in the grocery store, and if you can’t make it to the produce aisle, frozen fruits and veggies are good options too! Did you know that people who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases? Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body. Here are just some of the great benefits you will be providing for your family if you add vegetables and fruits to any meal:
- Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure. Some vegetable sources of potassium include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, white beans and tomato products.
- Dietary fiber from vegetables helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease.
- Eating a diet rich in some vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet may protect against certain types of cancers.
Tip #3: Try to exercise and incorporate cross training
Some exercise is better than none, so please try incorporate what you can into your daily routine. However, if you are connected to only one exercise routine you could might think you’ve got the physical fitness part of your life figured, but you’re only working certain muscles and probably less fit that you think. Here are a few ideas to mix up your exercise routine:
- If running or walking has been your only activity, an idea for better fitness could include strengthening exercises for the pelvis and hips as well as weight workouts to build the upper body.
- If you’ve been doing only weight lifting routines, add a cardio workout (walking or running on a treadmill) to your plan.
- The good news is cross training doesn’t even require specific exercises. As long as you create variation in your activity, you are cross training!
The most important thing you can do on your way to becoming more fit this year is to just get started by adding a few healthy rituals to your life. These suggestions, approved by your doctor, should get you going and soon they’ll become top priority because you should see progress in becoming more fit in 2017!
Sources: WebMD; choosemyplate.gov; myoclonic; National Sleep Foundation