The word “cancer” is pretty scary isn’t it? That lurking fear that one day we or someone we love will join the horrendous, terrifying statistics. In the UK, 1 in 2 people get cancer through out their life. It’s ghastly and doesn’t bear thinking about.
Except I want to live to be like the amazing woman in the photo.
I want to enjoy my life and end up like her.
Except here are some things I know that make it less scary.
You can improve your statistics. If you go from “disaster” (chain smoking, alcohol guzzling, overweight, junk food eating sedentary life style) to “healthy” (not smoking, moderate exercise, healthy eating, not drinking too much alcohol) you can significantly reduce your chance of getting cancer. The best bit is that you don’t have to make huge sacrifices. You just need to lead a healthy life style, which even to the busy work-stressed population of today is totally manageable.
According to Cancer Research UK, 4 in 10 cancers are caused by life style factors. Of course, you can’t change your genetics or what happened in the past, but you can concentrate on the future.
How to Reduce Your Chances of getting Cancer.
- Don’t smoke. Need I say more. We all know that right? If you do smoke, giving up will probably give you the biggest bang for your buck. It’s not a question of “if” as far as smoking is concerned, it’s a question of “when”. You might not get lung cancer, but you’ll end up with bronchitis and emphysema instead and have to spend your life hooked up to your own portable oxygen supply. Give up now!
- Keep a Healthy Body Weight. 1 in 20 UK cancers are linked to weight. Healthy eating and exercise are the keys here.
- Alcohol in Small Quantities. I know that alcohol is socially acceptable but I truly believe people underestimate how much damage alcohol does to the body. It causes 7 types of cancer as well as lots of other horrible diseases. Moderation is the key. The less alcohol you drink, the better.
- Eating a Health Diet.
- Lots of fruit and vegetables.
- Low in salt.
- High in fibre (aka fruit and veggies but there are other sources).
- Low in saturated fats.
- Reduced red and processed meat.
- More fish.
- Keeping Active. Cancer Research UK recommend moderately intense physical activity for a minimum of 2 1/2 hours a week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. That’s less than 30 minutes a day. Plus slightly more strenuous activity twice a week.
10 minutes is hardly anything. Have a dance party with your kids before dinner, walk around the block before you collect your kids from school. You can easily work two 10 minute activity breaks into your daily schedule.
- Avoid Certain Infections. HPV, that causes cervical cancer is the top culprit. Luckily there is a vaccination now which will help younger women. Remember to keep up with your cervical screening program as well.
- Enjoy the Sun Carefully. Exposure to UV light from the sun or sun beds is the main cause of skin cancer. It’s fine to enjoy the sun, just make sure you’re properly protected. Sun safety for adults is the same as sun safety for kids.
- Breastfeeding. Being pregnant and breastfeeding reduces your risk of getting breast cancer.
- Work Place. Exposure to ionising radiation and chemicals such as asbestos can lead to cancer. Stick to the health and safety rules.
- Hormones. HRT increases your risk of breast and ovarian cancer but there are many factors involved when deciding to take it. If you are thinking about it, chat to your family doctor.
I’ve written a billion articles on how to help your kids eat healthily, but it’s important that you do too. In fact, you eating healthily, modelling good behaviour, is one of the best ways your kids learn.
The list may seem long and a overwhelming but if I boil it down to this short list, it will seem much more manageable.
Significantly Reduce Your Risk of Cancer
- Don’t Smoke
- Drink in moderation (or not at all)
- Do moderate exercise
- Eat lots of fruit and vegetables and less red meat
Cancer Research UK
I love Cancer Research UK. Not only do they fund amazing research, but their website offers sensible advice about all aspects of cancer. If I’m not sure about something, it’s my “go-to” site. I love the page about “cancer controversies” like toiletries and plastic bottles. They have looked at the evidence and will give you an all around answer to these questions.
Here’s the article on reducing cancers.
Start Now Leading a Healthy Life Now
I mean right now!
Just by changing our life style a little, by tweaking our daily habits, we can significantly reduce our risk of getting cancer. What one change can you make that will make the most difference? Quit smoking? Loose weight? Eat healthily? Whichever it is, make a pledge to change now.
I’m right here behind you. For me, it’s eating fish. We don’t eat as much fish as we should, despite living near a daily fish market. Shocking isn’t it? So, I’m going to make that change. We’re going to have fresh fish once a week and to make life easy, I’m going to start buying more fish fingers. Even though I think of them as processed food, they are easy and the kids love them. Fresh fish once a week, fish fingers another time.
Of course, we can’t guarantee anything in life. Reducing our risk doesn’t guarantee that we won’t get cancer but if everyone changed from “disaster” to “healthy” we could cut the UK cancer rate by 40%. Or at least for future generations we can. How amazing would that be?