Tips on Decreasing Cancer Risk
The World Health Organization tells us that 1/3 of all cancers can be prevented. Let’s do what we can to avoid factors that increase our risk of occurrence or recurrence of cancer.
These factors are called modifiable risk factors, meaning those we can change. However, sometimes we may need help with changing those risk factors. Naturopathic doctors focus on preventing disease before it happens and have tools that can assist you with making more difficult changes like quitting smoking or changing your diet.
Here are some tips on some things that can be done to help decrease cancer risk and why:
1. Quit smoking and don’t use tobacco– 85% of lung cancers in Canada are directly related to smoking. Smoking also increases the risk for developing cancers of the bladder, cervix, colon, head and neck, pancreas, stomach, liver and AML. Quitting smoking even after cancer diagnosis can improve treatment outcomes.
2. Maintain a healthy body weight and be physically active– having a healthy body weight can decrease the risk of breast, colon, esophageal, gall bladder, liver, kidney, pancreatic and uterine cancers. This is directly related to diet and physical activity.
3. Eat a healthy diet with plenty colorful fruits and vegetables, avoid processed foods including processed meats – diet plays a huge role in cancer prevention, focus on decreasing sodium, saturated/trans fats and sugar and increasing fiber in your diet. This topic is extensive – talk to your ND to learn more about specific cancer preventing dietary information including food preparation and storage.
4. Avoid excessive alcohol use– the risk of cancer increases with alcohol intake of 1-2 drinks/day and 3.5 drinks/day can double or triple your risk of breast, colon and head/neck cancers.
5. Protect yourself from the sun using safe sunscreen, protective clothing and avoid using tanning beds or sunlamps– skin cancer is the most common type of cancer and the most preventable. UV radiation is a known carcinogen and exposure to indoor tanning equipment before the age of 35 increases your risk of developing melanoma. Vitamin D is made in the skin from UV radiation and vitamin D actually reduces the risk of many types of cancer – however there are safer ways of obtaining vitamin D via diet and supplementation. Check out the blog post on Vitamin D and how to make sure you have optimal levels!
6. Seek regular health care including screening for colon cancer, having a pap smear and having your skin examined. Ask questions to your health care provider on how to prevent coming in contact with viruses that can cause cancer such as hepatitis and HPV.
Come talk with us today to learn more about cancer prevention, or if you have been diagnosed, ask us about what we can do to support you.
– Dr. Dean
This article should not replace the advice of your naturopathic doctor or family physician.