2020-10-29
Shutterstock.com

Cancer is devastating. It is the second most common cause of death in the US, right behind heart disease. In addition to costing us billions of dollars, it also costs us the people that we love. Reducing certain habits and lifestyle choices connected to cancer can eliminate suffering and death due to cancer. Therefore, it's so important to know what behaviors are actively linked to cancer so we can try avoiding it at all costs. Here are seven cancer-causing habits to stop now.

Stress

Stress can leave you anxious and fearful, with little hope for the future. When we stress, we allow worrying to dictate how we feel. We dwell on the troubles and difficulties of this world instead of focusing on the joys. Stress can also be incredibly detrimental to your well-being. While some stress isn't necessarily a bad thing, too much stress can significantly impact your physical and emotional health. This had led experts to look at the role that stress plays in cancer development, and it is the source of many ongoing studies. A recent study investigates the past levels and duration of job stress faced by more than 2,000 men newly diagnosed with prostate cancer. It found that perceived workplace stress was associated with a higher risk of cancer. In cases that it does appear to be a link between cancer and stress, it's not entirely clear whether stress contributes directly or indirectly, but we know chronic stress doesn't help your health.

Eating Processed Foods

While some processed foods can be consumed as part of a healthy balanced diet, there are others that may have added sugar, salt, and fat that you need to be careful about. "Processed foods are packed with myriad toxic chemicals which can increase cancer risk," Yeral Patel, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician in Newport Beach, California said. "Consumption of processed foods causes inflammation, one of the leading contributors to cancer, and these foods also lack key micronutrients, essential vitamins and minerals, on which our bodies depend to rid themselves of harmful toxins." There are links to cancer and processed meats as well. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified processed meat as a human carcinogen. This means that they are prepared with chemicals that have been linked to damaging cells in the rectum and colon. Consuming just 1.8 ounces a day can increase your risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent, Eat This reports. The MD Anderson Cancer Center recommends that we remove processed meats from our diet, and if you do, only eat sparingly.

Smoking

According to the CDC, an estimated 37.8 million adults in the US currently smoke cigarettes, and more than 16 million Americans live with a smoking-related disease. It is highly likely that you know someone who smokes cigarettes or is struggling with a smoking-related disease. Cigarettes, including e-cigarettes, have strong links to cancer. Not only will it cause cancer, but it will also block your body from being able to fight it. First, the poisons in cigarette smoke can weaken your body's immune system, which makes it harder to kill cancer cells. When this occurs, cancer cells keep growing without stopping. Next, tobacco smoke poisons can change and damage a cell's DNA, which is the cell's instruction manual. If DNA is damaged, a cell can start growing out of control and create a cancer tumor. We should avoid smoking altogether.

Second-Hand Smoke

Simply inhaling secondhand smoke can cause lung cancer. It is also linked to several cancers the National Cancer Institute says, including nasal sinus, breast cancer, cavity cancer, and nasopharyngeal cancer in adults. It is also linked to leukemia, lymphoma, and brain tumors in children. You should avoid secondhand smoke whenever you can. Research has found that merely moving at least six feet away from smokers can reduce your risk of exposure.

A Sedentary Lifestyle

Being overweight and not exercising regularly are both linked to cancer. Leading a sedentary lifestyle is one of the greatest causes of cancer. A new study found that the total amount of time people spend sitting is associated with a higher risk of death from cancer, Medical News Today reports. Just replaced some of your sedentary time with some physical activity can reduce the risk a great deal.

Excessive Sun Exposure

Since we were young, we were told to wear sunscreen, particularly during hot months and periods where we would be in the sun a lot. We are told this for a good reason. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sub is the number one cause of skin cancer. The UV light from tanning beds is just as harmful. You may not know that sunlight exposure during the winter months can put you at the same risk as exposure would during the summer months. Cumulative sun exposure mainly causes basal cell and squamous cell skin cancer, while episodes of severe blistering sunburns before turning 18 can cause melanoma later in life, Cleveland Clinical reports.

Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is another thing to watch out for. While inflammation can be a good thing as it's the first step that occurs when our immune systems are starting up to heal a wound, chronic inflammation, when no injury has taken place, can damage our DNA and ultimately lead to cancer. Some of the things that cause chronic inflammation include excessive drinking, smoking, and a poor dietary lifestyle, often had added sugar and processed foods. If you are going to engage in any of these habits, it should certainly be in moderation. Make sure your diet consists of lots of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.

If you are consuming things that are harmful to your body, consider the health risks. While eating certain foods in moderation and getting off your exercise routine can be ok, we must stay on top of our health and avoid behaviors and activities connected to cancer. Putting your health first should always be a top priority.

more from beliefnet and our partners