There’s no doubt about it, cancer is frightening. Heck, even the word alone can send your blood pressure soaring. But the truth is, you have more control over this beast than you realize.
Experts say the vast majority of things that cause cancer are avoidable. And it turns out small, sometimes nearly effortless, modifications to your daily routine could be the difference between a clean bill of health and a cancer diagnosis.
Following are seven tiny changes you can make starting today that can have a huge impact, slashing your cancer risk by up to 65 percent.
1. Unseat your seat:
To send your lung, colon and endometrial cancer risk plummeting simply sit less. Studies show people who park themselves in a chair for most of the day have a higher risk for certain types of cancer. Folks who spend too much time sitting have a 21 percent increased risk of lung cancer, a 24 percent higher risk of colon cancer, and a 32 percent higher risk of endometrial cancer, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.1 Take a break from sitting at least once an hour to lower your risk.
2. “Resist” with these foods:
Eat more white beans, steel cut oats, and bananas that are still a bit green. A study published in the journal Cancer Prevention Research revealed that 40 grams of these “resistant starches” a day slashes the number of cells in rectal tissue that could trigger colon cancer.2
3. Embrace the dark:
Ladies, not getting enough sleep, and exposing yourself to light at night when you should be sleeping, could increase your risk of breast and ovarian cancer, according to a number of studies.3,4 Light suppresses your melatonin production. This, in turn, can increase the amount of estrogen your ovaries release, raising your risk of estrogen-triggered cancer.5
And guys, experts say exposure to light at night can send your risk for prostate cancer soaring too.6,7,8 Stow the electronics at least an hour before bed, keep computers and other light emitting devices out of the bedroom and commit to a regular sleep schedule.
4. Go green:
Eat more broccoli and broccoli sprouts. These cruciferous green veggie are packed with glucosinolate, a nutrient that could lower your cancer risk.9,10,11 Just make sure you steam those stalks instead of boiling, microwaving or frying them. A 2009 study found steaming the veggie helps it retain far more of the powerful cancer-fighting nutrient.12
5. Get some garlic breath:
Eating more garlic could lower your risk of cancer by a stunning 50 percent, according to the Iowa Women’s Health study.13 Researchers found that the women in the study who ate the most garlic had half the risk of colon cancer as the women who ate the least. And experts say garlic could also lower your risk for stomach, prostate, esophageal, pancreatic and breast cancers.14,15,16,17,18
Aim for at least a clove a day of garlic to reduce your cancer risk. Stir it into everything from salad dressings to burgers. To boost the effectiveness of allicin, the active compound in garlic, crush your cloves and allow them to sit for 15 minutes before using them.
6. Seek out the sun:
Spending more time in the sun with your skin exposed could lower your risk of cancer. The vast majority of the vitamin D in your body comes from sunlight, and study after study has shown the higher your vitamin D levels the lower your risk of cancer.19 In fact, adequate D levels, at least 40 ng/ml, could reduce your risk of cancer by up to 65 percent, according to a study published in the journal PLOS One.20
Make an effort to spend ten to 15 minutes outside in the sun every day. In the winter months you may want to consider taking a vitamin D supplement as well. Your doctor can check your D levels for you with a simple blood test.
7. Bust out the berries:
Experts say eating delicious berries could help protect you against cancer. Berries are natural antioxidants that are brimming with phenolic and flavonoid compounds that can help prevent the oxidative damage that can trigger cancer.21 Research shows that berries may help reduce your risk of esophageal, oral, colon and breast cancer. Eat a variety of berries and aim for four to five servings a week.
Give one, or all, of these tricks a try and slash your risk of cancer starting today.
1. “Television Viewing and Time Spent Sedentary in Relation to Cancer Risk: A Meta-Analysis,” Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 106, Issue 7, July 2014
2. “Dietary Manipulation of Oncogenic MicroRNA Expression in Human Rectal Mucosa: A Randomized Trial,” Cancer Prevention Research, August 2014, Volume 7, Issue 8
3.”The Reduction in Circulating Melatonin Level May Contribute to the Pathogenesis of Ovarian Cancer: A Retrospective Study,” J Cancer. 2016; 7(7): 831–836
4. “Rotating Night Shifts and Risk of Breast Cancer in Women Participating in the Nurses’ Health Study,” J Natl Cancer Inst (2001) 93 (20): 1563-1568
5. “Sleep & light at night the connection to breast cancer,” Hope Nemiroff, Executive Director Breast Cancer Options, breastcanceroptions.org, Accessed 3/14/2017
6. “Prospective Cohort Study of the Risk of Prostate Cancer among Rotating-Shift Workers: Findings from the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study,” American Journal of Epidemiology, 2006, Vol. 164, No. 6, pages 549 – 555
7. “Global Co-Distribution of Light at Night (LAN) and Cancers of Prostate, Colon, and Lung in Men,” Chronobiology International: The Journal of Biological & Medical Rhythm Research, 2009, Vol. 26, Issue 1, p108-125
8.”Urinary melatonin levels, sleep disruption, and risk of prostate cancer in elderly men,” Eur Urol. 2015 Feb;67(2):191-4
9. “Brassica Vegetables and Breast Cancer Risk,” JAMA. 2001;285(23):2975-2977
10. “Vegetable and fruit consumption and risks of colon and rectal cancer in a prospective cohort study: The Netherlands Cohort Study on Diet and Cancer,” Am J Epidemiol. 2000 Dec 1;152(11):1081-92
11. “Prospective study of fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of lung cancer among men and women,” J Natl Cancer Inst. 2000 Nov 15;92(22):1812-23
12. “Effects of different cooking methods on health-promoting compounds of broccoli,” J Zhejiang Univ Sci B. 2009 Aug; 10(8): 580–588
13. “Vegetables, Fruit, and Colon Cancer in the lowa Women’s Health Study, Am J Epidemiol (1994) 139 (1): 1-15
14. “Protective effect of allium vegetables against both esophageal and stomach cancer: a simultaneous case-referent study of a high-epidemic area in Jiangsu Province, China,” Jpn J Cancer Res. 1999 Jun;90(6):614-21
15. “Allium vegetables and stomach cancer risk in China,” Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2005 Jul-Sep;6(3):387-95
16. “Allium vegetables and risk of prostate cancer: A population-based study,” J Natl Cancer Inst (2002) 94 (21): 1648-1651
17. “Vegetable and fruit intake and pancreatic cancer in a population-based case-control study in the San Francisco bay area,” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Sep;14(9):2093-7
18. “Garlic, onion and cereal fibre as protective factors for breast cancer: a French case-control study,” Eur J Epidemiol. 1998 Dec;14(8):737-47
19. “The Role of Vitamin D in Cancer Prevention,” Am J Public Health. 2006 February; 96(2): 252–261
20, “Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations ≥40 ng/ml Are Associated with >65% Lower Cancer Risk: Pooled Analysis of Randomized Trial and Prospective Cohort Study. PLOS ONE, 2016; 11 (4)
21. “Laboratory and clinical studies of cancer chemoprevention by antioxidants in berries,” Carcinogenesis. 2008 Sep; 29(9): 1665–1674
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