The latest statistics suggest that more than 14 million new cases of cancer are diagnosed in the world each year. With many forms of cancer becoming more prevalent, there’s no better time to take steps to reduce your risk of cancer, and boost your health.

Although many cases of cancer are not linked to lifestyle factors, a large proportion of cases could be prevented. Here are some useful tips to help you decrease your risk of developing this potentially deadly disease.

Image Credit: George Hodan
Image Credit: George Hodan

Give up smoking

If you smoke, you have an increased risk of developing many forms of cancer. Lung cancer is one of the biggest killers, and the majority of cases are directly linked to smoking. Smoking exposes your body to hundreds of different harmful chemicals, some of which have been classed as carcinogens. Carcinogens are substances, which are known to increase the risk of cancer. If you smoke, you are up to 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than a non-smoker, according to the American Lung Association. Smoking can also affect the people around you. Passive smoking is a known risk factor for lung cancer. If you want to quit smoking, ask your doctor for advice. There are organizations out there that can support and encourage you.

Exercise

Regular exercise reduces the risk of some types of cancer, including bowel cancer. It also helps to reduce blood pressure and improves circulation, which decreases the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Cancer Research UK estimates that around 3,400 cases of cancer in the UK could be prevented each year with regular activity. If you’re not a fan of the gym, there are lots of other types of exercise you can enjoy. Try swimming, cycling or rowing. Or sign up for a dance class, a running club or a local hockey team.

Keep an eye out for changes in your health

Image Credit: Army Medicine
Image Credit: Army Medicine

Often, cancer can creep on you without you even realising. Many forms of cancer cause no obvious symptoms, especially in the early stages. Keep an eye on your general health and seek advice if you notice any changes or abnormalities. Look out for lumps, unexplained weight loss and traces of blood in your urine or stools. Arrange an appointment if you have pain or you’ve had a cough for a long time. If you do have cancer, the earlier the diagnosis is made, the better. Once you’ve been diagnosed, further tests will be used to plan your treatment. Your plan will be tailored to the type and stage of cancer. You will be referred to an expert with experience in the relevant area, for example soft tissue sarcoma treatment.

Drink in moderation

Drinking alcohol increases your risk of developing some forms of cancer. Most notably, alcohol elevates the risk of liver, oral and oesophageal cancer. If you enjoy a drink, that’s fine, but always drink in moderation. See your doctor if you’re worried that you consume too much alcohol.

It’s scary to think about cancer. Often, there’s nothing we can do to stop cancer, but in some cases, cancer is preventable. Follow these steps to reduce the risk of cancer and ensure early diagnosis if you are affected.

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