The statistics are staggering. According to the National Cancer Institute, nearly 40.5% of Americans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives. The brighter news is that around 75% of cancers may be prevented through lifestyle change (National Institutes of Health, 2008).
When it comes to cancer prevention, some risk factors get a lot more attention than others. For example, you surely know to avoid smoking, wear sunblock or protective clothing, and skip processed foods. To further protect your health, here are eight causes of cancer you may not know about.
Hot Drinks: Sipping antioxidant-rich green tea may, in fact, reduce your cancer risk. However, drinking your tea too hot can have the opposite effect. Extremely hot drinks irritate your esophagus lining. That heat damage may increase your esophageal cancer risk, in part because it leaves you more vulnerable to other carcinogens like pollution or tobacco smoke. It is always best to let your coffee, tea, or chai cool down a bit before taking the first sip.
Cleaning Products: Be careful how you clean your home. You may be spraying your space with carcinogens. Many household cleaners are filled with toxic ingredients that are known to cause cancer. Instead, reach for unscented, all-natural products. When in doubt, check the EWG rating to help you select better products like unscented dish soap or sulfate-free laundry detergent. Keep in mind that it's not just cancer you should worry about. Cross-contamination of cleaning products can make you sick as well.
Cosmetics: Sometimes consumers overlook small products that pose a huge risk. How often do you read the ingredient list when choosing makeup or lip balm? Many cosmetics contain a variety of carcinogens -- repeatedly applied directly to your skin for easy absorption. Your favorite foundation, mascara, or nail polish, might contain a toxic mix of BHA, BHT, parabens, paragons, phthalates, formaldehyde, and heavy metals. Consider cleaner cosmetics approved by EWG, such as those offered by Beautycounter.
Alcoholic Spirits: Sure, one or two drinks per week may be safe. And the polyphenols found in a small glass of red wine might even reduce your cancer risk. Still, moderation is key when it comes to alcohol consumption. Studies connect regular alcohol consumption with an increased risk of seven types of cancer: breast, colon, rectum, liver, larynx, oropharynx, and esophagus.
Not Enough Sun: You are likely familiar with the connection between too much sun exposure and skin cancer. However, you might not realize that getting too-little sun can also be a risk factor. Spending a little time outside each day aids your body in producing essential vitamin D. Note that a deficiency of vitamin D is associated with an increased cancer risk. Be cautious, but don't fear the sun either. Catching a few rays is good for your physical and energetic wellness.
Sitting Still Too Long: A sedentary lifestyle can be as damaging as smoking when it comes to health and wellness, particularly in terms of cancer risk. This is especially true for women. Those who sit for six or more hours a day are more likely to develop myeloma. It is essential to take breaks to move at least once an hour. Even just a short break can lower the risk. And the more you move, the better. Staying active is associated with a reduced risk of lung, colon, and breast cancers. You'll also reduce your risk of obesity, which is well-known cancer risk factor.
Air Pollution: According to the Lancet Commission on pollution and health, air pollution is the primary culprit in 29% of lung cancer deaths. Keep an eye on your local air quality index as well as public policies to allow or reduce pollution. Meanwhile, protect the air that you can control, which is the space inside your home. Be mindful of the air pollutants you bring inside, and consider investing in a good air purifier.
Electronics: Using electronics periodically throughout the day may be safe to some extent. Your body is able to protect against some low-level EMF exposure. The trouble comes when you are constantly exposed. Don't keep your phone in your pocket throughout the day. Charge it in another room. And most importantly, keep it in a separate room while you sleep. In addition to lowering your cancer risk, you may find that other symptoms improve, such as migraines, irritability, insomnia, or anxiety.
While you can't control or avoid everything that could potentially cause cancer, you can take care of yourself. Eating well, getting quality rest, and avoiding stress are good commonsense measures to prevent not just cancer but many other diseases too. Following this advice may protect your health long term and even add to your quality of life in the present.
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What To Remember:While we are familiar with some causes of cancer, there are many less obvious culprits.
Making small lifestyle changes can improve and protect your life.
Take breaks to move and get a little sun every day.
Be patient and wait for hot drinks to cool.
Be cautious of exposure to EMF radiation, toxins, air pollution, and alcohol.
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