Three Steps to Reduce Cancer Risk
Cancer occurs when DNA mutates, causing uncontrolled cell growth. These mutations can be caused by:
- Exposure to radiation (even just from the sun)
- Toxins in the environment
- Poor lifestyle habits (e.g. an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and smoking)
Fortunately, much can be done to reduce cancer risk.
Step 1: Eat Cancer-Fighting Foods
There are several foods that have been linked to reduced cancer risk. They include:
- Broccoli (and other cruciferous vegetables)
- Citrus Fruits
- Olive Oil
- Fatty Fish
Research has shown that cruciferous vegetables contain compounds that protect cells from DNA damage and inflammation, thereby reducing cancer risk.
Dietary fiber is shown in studies to protect against colon cancer, and beans are a great source of dietary fiber. They also contain antioxidants and phytochemicals, with both being potent cancer fighters.
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries…all berries are packed full of antioxidants, and antioxidants are known cancer-fighters.
Carrots can be anything from a healthy snack to a side dish…and they’re a potent cancer-fighting food. Eating more carrots has been associated with reduced risk for several types of cancer.
The powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamon make it another effective cancer fighter. In lab studies, cinnamon oil extract reduced tumor size, growth, and spread.
Oranges, lemons, and grapefruit can do more than just prevent scurvy and the common cold. Several studies confirm that people with diets high in citrus have a lower risk of some forms of cancer.
The Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil, may reduce the risk for developing cancer, in addition to promoting cardiovascular health. Research indicates that countries where diets are rich in olive oil have significantly reduced rates of colorectal cancer. Increased use of olive oil has also been tied to a lower incidence breast cancer.
Salmon, tuna, trout, and other fatty fish contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Both appear to be potent anti-cancer agents. Several large studies have concluded that replacing red meat and processed meat with fatty fish reduces the risk for lower digestive tract cancers.
Several kinds of nuts appear to have cancer-fighting properties. Brazil nuts, for example, are rich in selenium which may help to prevent lung cancer. And eating more nuts has also been linked to lower rates of endometrial, colorectal, and pancreatic cancer.
Step 2: Take Anti-Cancer Supplements
If you have trouble eating enough of the cancer-fighting foods listed above, there are several supplements with known anti-cancer properties including:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Fish oil
- Curcumin (turmeric)
- DIM (diindolyl-methane)
Step 3: Regular Screening
Because many cancers are treatable if detected early, cancer screening is recommended beginning in your 50s (and sometimes earlier). Common cancer screening tests include:
- Colonoscopy (colorectal cancer)
- Fecal blood test (colorectal)
- Mammogram (breast cancer)
- Pap smear (cervical cancer)
- Prostate-specific antigen test (prostate cancer)
Your primary care physician can give you specific recommendations based on your age and risk factors.
The Big Picture
Many of the strategies for reducing cancer risk also contribute to overall health. In addition to the suggestions noted above, avoid environmental toxins where possible, avoid radiation where possible, eat a healthy diet rich in antioxidants, get plenty of exercise and plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, don’t smoke, etc.
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