Easy Lifestyle Changes for Reducing Cancer Risks

Easy Lifestyle Changes for Reducing Cancer Risks
by Lil Spitzer, Executive Director of Beckstrand Cancer Foundation

In a startling reverse of a two-year downward trend, cancer-related deaths rose by more than 5,000 in 2005, as recently announced by the American Cancer Society. Since the early 1990s, the cancer death rate has been dropping, but the actual cancer deaths continued to rise due to population growth. Contrary to popular belief, up to two-thirds of all cancer cases might be prevented if people applied everything known about cancer prevention to their lives, according to the American Cancer Society. Here are four lifestyle commitments that can be made to reduce the risk of cancer:
Nourish the Body
Having a diet based mostly on plants such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans can reduce the risk of cancer by as much as 30-40 percent. Aim for one or two servings of fruit and vegetables at every meal, as well as snacks. In addition, low-fat diets help fight against colorectal, prostate and endometrial cancers. Drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation will also help prevent cancers such as colon, breast and liver.
Work It Out
Thirty to 45 minutes of physical activity a day has a protective effect against some cancers. Some of the most effective ways to increase physical activity is by taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking the car in the far end of the lot when shopping. Not only do these simple activities make reaching the recommended levels of exercise attainable, but they also decrease the risk for heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other major health problems.
Avoid the Burn
The most common cancer in the United States is also the most preventable. This year, more than 1 million Americans will be diagnosed this year with skin cancer, which is caused by too much exposure to the sun. Always remember to apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going into the sun and reapply it often. Make sure the sunscreen has a SPF of 30 and protects against UV-A and UV-B rays. If being in the sun is a must, cover up with clothing, sunscreen and sunglasses. Those who freckle or burn are the most at-risk for developing skin cancer.
Kick That Butt
Tobacco use, particularly cigarette smoking, is the single most preventable cause of death in the United States. Smoking not only raises the risk of developing more than eight types of cancer, but it accounts for 87 percent of all lung cancer cases and 30 percent of all deaths from cancer. No matter an individual's age, it's never too late to improve one's health by kicking the tobacco addiction for good. Be sure to avoid places with secondhand smoke and educate children about not using tobacco products. Remember, those who live with smokers are more likely to develop lung cancers themselves, even though they do not smoke.
Not only will these modifications help reduce the risk of cancer, they will also result in a healthier lifestyle. In addition, these changes help prevent other health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke and lung diseases. For more information about cancer prevention, visit www.Beckstrand.org.

About the Author, Lil Spitzer:
Lil Spitzer is the executive director of Beckstrand Cancer Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1974 by Dr. Grant Beckstrand and a group of doctors specializing in the treatment and care of cancer patients. For more than 30 years, the Foundation's goal has been to "improve and enhance the quality of life for cancer patients and their families." This mission is achieved through an Individual Patient Assistance program, in which the Foundation is unique in providing financial assistance, patient advocacy, supportive counseling and practical help to patients in the midst of their cancer treatment and struggling to cope with critical survival needs. For more information, visit www.Beckstrand.org.