Every day, an average of 565 Canadians are diagnosed with some form of cancer. But half of all cancers are preventable. We know it can be hard to find time to exercise – especially when you’ve got a busy schedule, work, school and household responsibilities, children’s activities and more. But making healthy lifestyle choices can cut cancer risk, decrease the chance of it coming back after treatment – and make recovery faster and easier by helping people withstand invasive treatments and fight illness more effectively.
There are many ways to reduce the risk of cancer before it starts – here’s a list of easy-to-implement tips from the Canadian Cancer Society:
Stop smoking. Smoking is responsible for 30% of all cancer deaths, so quitting the habit cuts your risk in a big way. Second-hand smoke is a dangerous, too – try to keep your distance from smokers, and if you are a smoker, don’t light up around others. Don’t smoke around children.
Maintain a healthy body weight. It’s one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of getting cancer. Eat right, get moving, and make healthy food choices every day.
Eat nutritious foods. Get lots of fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Eat less sugar, salt, and processed and high-fat foods.
Sit less and move more. As a society, we sit at our desks and on our couches far too much – and it’s taking a toll on our health (you’ve heard the term “sitting is the new smoking,” right?) Make an effort to take breaks from your desk. Walk around. Take the stairs. Join a fitness class. Make a regular date to walk with a friend.
Limit alcohol. Drinking too much can also increase your risk of cancer. Enjoy that glass of wine with dinner, but keep in mind that the recommended amount is one glass a day for women and two for men.
Protect yourself from the sun. Your skin type doesn’t matter. Whether you have dark skin or burn with just a little exposure, you can still get skin cancer. And avoid indoor tanning beds, too – they’re just as bad.
Get your shots. Did you know contracting hepatitis can increase your risk of getting liver cancer? And that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has been linked to cervical, head/neck, penile and other cancers? Vaccines can protect you against those viruses and reduce your cancer risk.
Get screened. Ontario offers three types of screening programs: breast, cervical and colorectal. Take advantage of them – they are the best way to catch certain types of cancer early.
Be aware of your meds. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and birth control pills may increase your risk for some cancers. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned.
Check for radon in your home. Radon is an invisible, odorless, tasteless radioactive gas that is released from the normal delay of uranium, thorium, and radium in our soil. It seeps up through the ground. It can enter homes through cracks in walls and foundations, and is often higher in well-insulated spaces. 16% of lung cancer deaths in Canada are related to radon exposure in the home – to check if you have it, buy a test kit from your local home improvement store.