Top 3 ways to dramatically cut cancer risk

If the thought of cancer frightens you, it’s warranted, more than half a million Americans die of cancer each year.

And unfortunately, the chances of getting cancer are pretty high — affecting one in three women and one in two men.

The interesting thing is that genetic factors only account for a very small fraction of your risk.

In fact, according to Dr. Isaac Eliaz, when you add up the contribution of heredity, environmental pollution and possible viral or bacterial triggers, it appears these factors only account for about 30 percent of cancer cases. That suggests that up to about 70 percent of cancers are linked to factors you can control or change.

In fact, there are three main causes you can work on right now to dramatically reduce your cancer risk…

1. Your weight

While it’s pretty common knowledge that a healthy weight is healthier, only 29 percent of people manage to do it.

Yet overweight and obesity contribute to the development of all types of cancer — breast (especially postmenopausal), colon, endometrium, kidney, esophagus, pancreas, gallbladder, liver and ovary — so it’s in your best interest to pay attention to those scales and move them in a downward direction toward a healthy BMI.

2. Your level of physical activity

All you need is 30 minutes for five days out of the week, of moderate intensity exercise such as walking, gentle cycling, yoga, swimming or body weight training.

If you’d like to cut that time by half, you can upscale your workouts to vigorous intensity activities such as running, sprinting, weight training or high intensity interval training. Then you only need to do 15 minutes for five days out of the week.

Exercise cuts your cancer risk two ways: According to Marcas Bamman, Ph.D., director of the University of Alabama in Birmingham Center for Exercise Medicine, “Exercise as a means of preventing or reducing the risk of various cancers, particularly breast cancer, is important for two reasons: both the direct physical effects and the indirect effect, which is preventing or contributing to mechanisms that help prevent weight gain.”

Try to limit sedentary behaviors — sitting, lying down, watching TV — and opt for leisurely activities such as gardening, nature walking, or standing while you work at a computer.

3. Your diet

By far the most powerful tool you have at your disposal, which also helps increase weight loss, is your diet and the foods you choose to eat on an everyday basis.

Here’s the thing: your body is a living organism that needs nutrients to function. If it doesn’t get them, your cells start to dysfunction and alter and that’s when cancer can develop.

A typical Western diet, which is now so commonplace, is filled with processed and packaged foods high in sugar and refined ingredients. These aren’t really foods at all. Majority of these products are empty calories that offer very little in the way of nutrition, and over time your cells become starved and deprived of the nutrients they need.

If you want to reduce your cancer risk, you can choose to eat differently, starting today…

Choose foods in their natural form. Foods that your great grandmother would recognize don’t include cocoa pops, sugar-free candies, or a shiny wrapper that has a picture of a vegetable on it. There’s proof those foods feed cancer. Your great grandmother would have eaten simple things like meat, poultry, eggs, and an abundance of real vegetables.

Choose natural whole foods high in fiber. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are great fiber-rich options. These foods also contain high levels of vitamins and minerals, along with a range of phytochemicals with proven cancer-fighting powers. In one study, participants were able to cut their cancer risk in just 14 days thanks to fiber.

Consume ample vegetables as your dietary base. Vegetables such as broccoli (eat this much), cabbage, cauliflower, collards, Brussels sprouts, carrots, tomatoes and leafy greens, are some of the most nutrient-dense foods available to help fuel the cells in your body. Aiming for at least 2.5 cups per day should be your goal.

The important thing is, foods have a synergistic effect on your health, which means, aiming for a wide variety of healthy whole foods ensures you consume all the medicinal benefits they have to offer.

Source: Bail J, et al. Nutritional status and diet in cancer prevention. — Seminars in Oncology Nursing. 2016;32(3):206-214.
Jedha Dening

By Jedha Dening

Jedha Dening is a qualified nutritionist (MNutr), researcher, author, freelance writer, and founder of type 2 diabetic nutrition site Diabetes Meal Plans. Her masters thesis on nutrition and inflammation was published and then presented at a national scientific conference. She has millions of words published in the health industry across various print and online publications. Having been in the field for over 15 years, she’s incredibly passionate about delving into the latest research to share the myths and truths surrounding nutrition and health. She believes when armed with the right knowledge, we’re empowered to make informed choices that can truly make a difference.