You do your best to eat a clean, healthy diet. You get your 20 to 30 minutes of daily exercise, on most days anyway. And you haven’t smoked in years.
In other words, you’ve got all the major methods for protecting yourself against cancer covered. And that’s fantastic! But why stop there? There are a bunch of other ways you can chip away at your cancer risk every day.
Following are 9 simple changes you can make that together could help put a big dent in your risk for cancer.
1. Filter your water:
The tap water you’re drinking could be filled with contaminants picked up in the pipes leading from the plant to your kitchen faucet. In fact, according to an analysis performed by the Environmental Working Group, up to two thirds of American’s drinking water supplies contain carcinogenic chromium-6, or hexavalent chromium.
And you’re not doing yourself any favors with bottled water, either. Tests show bottled waters are often not even as pure as your tap water. And then there are the endocrine-disrupting chemicals—including BPA, BFPA and BPS— that are used to harden plastic water bottles. These chemicals can leach into your water, which some experts say may be linked to an increased risk for breast and prostate cancer.
Using a reverse osmosis (RO) water filter can help remove many of the contaminants that threaten your health and raise your risk of cancer, including chromium-6 and endocrine disrupting chemicals. RO filtering systems aren’t cheap, but they’re a worthwhile investment.
2. Step outside:
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to numerous types of cancers (not to mention a staggeringly long list of other health problems). And, unfortunately, since most Americans have been taught to fear the sun many of them are deficient in D. Don’t be one of them.
Spend 15 to 20 minutes in the sun every day, with as much of your skin exposed as you can manage without someone calling the cops. For most folks this is enough to raise vitamin D to a healthy level. Ask your doctor about a simple blood test to check your own levels, or look for a testing kit online.
3. Embrace color:
On the days that you’ll be spending more than 15 to 20 minutes in the sun, go bold with your color choices. Experts say red and blue clothing does a better job at blocking UV rays than white or yellow options.
4. Marinate your meat:
There’s no question that barbecuing is one of the joys of the spring and summer season. (And for some folks it’s a year round indulgence.) But if you’re grilling your meats to the point of blackening or charring, you’re raising your cancer risk.
Charring creates cancer-causing chemicals called HCAs. Develop deeper flavor by marinating your meat before it hits the grill instead. Your barbecued meats will still taste delicious, but you’ll be able to cook them at lower temperatures and for less time.
For even more cancer-fighting power add rosemary and thyme to your marinades. Not only do these two herbs taste terrific, they can help reduce HCAs by up to 87 percent, according to Kansas State University.
5. Go nuts:
A weekly serving of Brazil nuts—about six nuts—can help protect you against bladder, lung, prostate and colorectal cancers. Rich in free-radical fighting selenium they can help ward off some of the cell damage that’s linked to cancer, while boosting your immune system at the same time.
6. Enjoy your java:
A study out of Britain linked five cups of caffeinated coffee a day with significantly reduced rates of brain, oral and throat cancers. But keep in mind that, in this case, the caffeine matters. Decaf didn’t have the same protective results.
And remember, dumping sugar or syrupy sweet “creamers” into your coffee can undo your java’s health benefits. Drink it black for the best results.
7. Be cautious with CT scans:
There are times a CT scan is the right test at the right time. But sometimes they’re unnecessary and a doc simply orders them as a precaution. If your doctor orders a CT scan don’t be afraid to ask if an ultrasound, MRI or even a traditional X-ray would work as well. And don’t let different doctors repeat the same scans.
A single CT scan can expose you to between 150 and 1,100 times the amount of radiation in a conventional x-ray. According to experts, that’s about equal to a year’s worth of the radiation exposure that you typically get from natural and artificial sources.
8. Don’t skimp on calcium:
In a study at Dartmouth Medical School, people who received a calcium supplement had a significantly lower risk of developing precancerous colon polyps than folks who were given a placebo. And that protection from was shown to last a full five years after the study ended.
You can increase the calcium in your diet by eating more kale, sardines, plain yogurt, kefir and broccoli. Or talk with your doc about taking a supplement.
9. Drink green tea:
After your 5th cup of coffee, you’re probably going to be in need of a change. We suggest reaching for the green tea.
Tea is a terrific source of cancer-fighting catechins, and green tea is overflowing with about three times the amount you’ll find in black tea. And a growing stack of studies has linked green tea to a significantly lower risk of breast, prostate, colon and liver cancers.
Staying active and eating a healthy diet are essential for lowering your cancer risk. But now you can take your fight against cancer to the next level with these 10 simple changes to your daily routine.