Beliefnet
A Prescription for Healthy Living

Did you know that there are actually quite a number of ways in which you can protect your body while taking a proactive stance in avoiding certain cancers. Of course, there are obvious things you can do to protect yourself from developing certain cancers: If you smoke, there is no better time to quit than now…right now… right this very second. By stomping out this bad habit, your chances of developing lung cancer, throat cancer, oral cancer, head and neck cancer and pancreatic cancer drastically decrease. Additionally, each year that you remain smoke-free thereafter decreases your chances even more of developing cancer.

Maintaining a healthy weight, an active lifestyle and eating a well-balanced diet are other ways in which you can avoid certain other cancers. If you struggle with keeping your weight down, speak with your family physician or dietician to develop and implement a weight loss and maintenance strategy. Do not begin any diet or exercise program until you have consulted with and have been cleared by your family doctor. Set small goals for yourself until you have reached your ideal weight, and then begin your maintenance program. Weight loss and maintenance thereof will help protect your body from major illnesses such as heart disease and diabetes. Do not lose heart if you do not see the weight come off quickly or at the pace you expecting it to. Remember, weight gain does not happen overnight; therefore, it will take time for it to start coming off. Also important to keep in mind is that a 5-10% weight loss will also go a long way to reverse any damage and strain on the body. Try using such a formula as your small goal until you reach your desired weight.

Developing and maintaining an active lifestyle is another important way in which you can lower your risk of several types of cancers, including breast and colorectal cancer. Implementation of an exercise program will help to strengthen bones, build muscle tone and reduce total body fat. Exercise can also help to improve a person’s self-esteem, while simultaneously strengthening the heart and increasing muscle tone and strength. Consistent exercise and/or physical activity are also important for cancer survivors because it can help reduce fatigue as well as the emotional, mental and physical stress associated with the disease.

Most healthy adults can take on moderate activity without first checking with their doctor; however, if you are a man older than 40, a woman over the age of 50, or if you are a cancer survivor, be sure to first consult your healthcare provider before you begin an exercise program.

Most doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of physical activity anywhere from four to six times per week. Start out slowly and increase your intensity until you are able to keep your workouts at a medium- to high-intensity level. Other heart healthy things you can do each day to increase your activity level would be to take the stairs instead of the elevator, or take a walk during break times.

Maintaining a healthy diet means eating plenty of vegetables, whole grains and fruits. It also means choosing items that are low in fat, cholesterol, sugar and salt. You should be eating at least five servings of vegetables and fruits each day. Choose whole-grain breads, cereals, rice and pasta rather than those products containing white flour. Increase your daily intake of fish, poultry and dried beans instead of beef, pork and lamb. Limit or avoid dairy products that are not fat-free or reduced fat, red meat and processed foods.

The following is a list of some other tips for a healthy diet:

• Portion control. This is especially important if you are eating foods that are high in calories, cholesterol, fat, salt and sugar.
• When eating out, consider sharing a main course, order an appetizer, or something off the kids’ menu so that you will not be tempted to overeat.
• Avoid eating foods with high sugar content, including most cereals, cakes, cookies and pastries; there is no nutritional value in these foods and they will do nothing to satisfy your hunger.

Drinking alcoholic beverages may increase the risk of developing certain oral cancers, esophageal cancer, and cancer of the breast and liver. If you are a man, you should not drink more than two drinks a day. If you are a woman, limit yourself to one drink daily. The beverage breakdown can be considered this way: One drink is the equivalent of a 12-ounce bottle of beer (4.5% alcohol), a 5-ounce glass of wine (12.9% alcohol) or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

You can avoid skin cancer by wearing sunscreen and keeping out of the powerful noon-day sun. Tanning beds are another no-no.

Certain viral infections can also cause cancer. Speak with your doctor regarding the hepatitis B vaccination which will lower your risk of developing liver cancer. Finally, human papillomavirus (HPV) can lead to cervical cancer. If you are under the age of 26, speak you’re your doctor about the HPV vaccine.

Keeping a proactive stance in terms of diet and exercise will go a long way to protect your body from some of the many major cancers.

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