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The best approach to cancer is prevention. Cancer is one of the greatest fears of modern societies. It squelches life too early in many cases and is often a difficult demise in later years. Many cancers are preventable with lifestyle changes. Keys are dietary deficiencies, excess fats and chemicals, and cigarette smoking. For a more in-depth discussion, review the Cancer Prevention section of Chapter 16 in Staying Healthy with Nutrition.
10 Tips for Preventing Cancer
Cancer is one of the greatest fears of modern societies. It squelches life too early in many cases and is often a difficult demise in later years. Many cancers are preventable with lifestyle changes. Keys are dietary deficiencies, excess fats and chemicals, and cigarette smoking. For a more in-depth discussion, review the Cancer Prevention section of Chapter 16 in Staying Healthy with Nutrition.
1. Have regular cancer detection tests appropriate for your age and gender – breast exams, prostate tests, and colon checks (sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy). These are focused on early detection, and early detection can save lives, but this is not true prevention. The most effective was to avoid degenerative, chronic diseases such as cancer is through lifestyle – the way we live our day-to-day lives.
2. Avoid chemical exposure as much as possible – from your food, environment, and around your home. Buy organic food whenever possible. Minimize the use of chemical sprays and pesticides around your home, and especially near children. See more about avoiding chemicals in Staying Healthy with Nutrition.
3. Do not smoke. If you do, do whatever you can to stop. Regular smoking (as an addictive habit) is the number one cause of preventable diseases–lung cancer, other respiratory infections, and heart disease.
4. Avoid obesity by eating better food and exercising regularly. Obesity increases the risk of many common cancers, such as breast, colon, and prostate cancers. Create a healthy weight reduction program.
5. Eat wholesome foods that are high in nutrients and lower in calories – avoid processed foods, which are typically higher in fats and sugars. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes, nuts and seeds, and lean, quality animal proteins, such as fish and poultry (free-range and as clear of toxic chemicals and antibiotics as possible). This also makes for a high-fiber diet, helping your digestive tract work well, and minimizes your risk of colon cancer.
6. Take appropriate nutritional supplements, especially the important anti-oxidant nutrients, to help the body detox efficiently–which may reduce cancer risks. These vital nutrients include vitamins C and E, selenium, and the carotenes.
7. Detoxify your body periodically, as appropriate for your existing diet and habits. This begins by having a healthy, clean lifestyle – and taking a break from any destructive habits. Consider a cleansing diet, detoxifying herbs, or some form of juice fasting, such as a Summer Cleanse. See my book, The New Detox Diet, for more specifics.
8. Get regular exercise and some form of stretching, such as yoga. This helps you maintain your optimum weight and improve your metabolism. It also helps you relax and feel positive toward life.
9. Learn to deal with stress and emotions – get in touch with and communicate your feelings. Holding onto frustrations and fears seems to undermine immune function. As with other disease processes, a compromised immune system may contribute to cancer development. If you are challenged by high stress or loss, increase the nurturing in your life – step up your personal support, massage, or some psychotherapeutic healing process, or nurture the mind-body connection with an appropriate type of relaxation or meditation.
10. Keep a positive attitude toward life and love yourself. When you experience full acceptance of yourself (although this may not be easy!), it spills over into all your relationships in a positive way. You’ll also notice an improvement of your health habits and greater motivation to follow a lifestyle that generates health over the course of your life.
Integrative Family Medicine Physician, Author and Educator