8 Cancer Prevention Tips To Share With Your Family and Loved Ones

A cancer diagnosis is as devastating as it is commonplace: 93% of people know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. You may be wondering what you can do to prevent receiving a cancer diagnosis. While there is no magic formula that can guarantee you or your loved one will never hear those words, there are actions you can take to bolster your health and immune system to minimize the chance of a cancer diagnosis. 

How can cancer be prevented?

Lifestyle changes are key to cancer prevention. Making healthy changes to your everyday life can all contribute to bolstering your immunity, including minimizing your risk of developing cancer. These changes include improvements to your diet, getting exercise, and stopping bad habits like smoking cigarettes.

8 cancer prevention tips you can begin today

These lifestyle changes may help you prevent cancer:

1.Make changes in the kitchen

A healthy diet can help reduce your risk of developing cancer. Focus on plant-based foods, with meals rich in whole grains, vegetables, berries, beans, and healthy fats. You may also want to reduce your consumption of processed foods, particularly hot dogs, deli, and other processed meats, and focus on a mostly vegetarian diet that leaves red meat behind. For inspiration, flip through a cookbook like The Cancer Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz

Reforming your diet does not mean that you are leaving all enjoyable foods behind – it means making smarter choices each day. For example, you can try treats lower in sugar like dark chocolate that can satisfy a sweet tooth without introducing excess amounts of tumor-feeding sugar into your system.

If dietary changes are not meeting your nutritional needs, you may want to consider taking pharmaceutical-grade supplements to help you get the recommended daily value of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Vitamin D is particularly important for cancer prevention: Many studies have found links between sufficient vitamin D levels and lower rates of prostate cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer.

2.Get moving

Exercise will help lower your risk of certain cancers. This is because activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, as obesity increases the risk of certain cancers. Exercise also has positive effects on your immune system.

Explore outdoor physical activities to do with your family each week. With a little experimentation, your family can discover activities that everyone enjoys together. Try out some of these activities to find something everyone enjoys:

  • Hiking
  • Gardening
  • Riding bikes
  • Tai chi
  • Yoga
  • Swimming
  • Sports like tennis or basketball
  • Outdoor games like tag

3.Cut back on harmful habits and risky activities

Protecting your health goes beyond what is in your kitchen – your daily activities matter, too. You may want to consider making changes in these three areas to help reduce the chance of developing cancer:

  • Alcohol use: Excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer, cancers of the throat or larynx, and colorectal cancer. If you drink, cap your consumption to one drink per day.
  • Tobacco use: Cigarettes and cigars can put you at risk of multiple cancer types beyond lung cancer: Smoking has also been connected to oral cancers and pancreatic cancer, among others. Secondhand smoke may also contribute to lung cancer in non-smokers who live with you. Consider smoking cessation tools to help you cut back or quit this habit altogether.
  • Unprotected sex: The human papillomavirus (HPV) is transmitted sexually.  This virus can increase the chances of developing cervical cancer. Opt for protection or consider getting vaccinated against HPV.

4.Explore ways to reduce stress

Chronic stress can weaken your immune system, which plays a role in identifying and destroying some of the cancer cells that develop naturally throughout your life. Chronic stress is also a contributing factor to other comorbidities like high blood pressure that can impact your health.

While the link between stress and cancer is not yet clear, the MD Anderson Cancer Center notes that chronic stress may inhibit anoikis, a process that kills diseased cells and prevents them from spreading. Chronic stress may also contribute to factors that speed the growth of cancerous tumors.

With the right tools in hand, you can find ways to reduce chronic stress. You can explore meditation guides specific for stress management, try restorative and gentle yoga, or incorporate a stress and breath tracker that can help identify what triggers stress and help head off tension.

5.Wear sunscreen

Sun protection is key to minimizing the chance of developing skin cancer, one of the more common cancer types in the U.S. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays, severe sunburns, and using tanning beds can increase the risk that skin cancer develops.

You and your loved ones can reduce the chance of developing skin cancer by using sunblock with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, covering skin during peak sunlight hours, and wearing sunglasses and protective headgear. For more information and product suggestions, visit Cancer Schmancer’s Safer Sunscreen database and search for products.

6.Get a good night’s rest

Sleep is essential to health and healing, and Americans do not get enough of it. While poor sleep is not a risk factor for cancer in and of itself, it is like chronic stress in that it can contribute to developing other diseases as well. 

Some general tips for better sleep are: 

  • Turning off all screens 1 hour before bedtime
  • Going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time every day
  • Create a quiet, dark, and cool sleeping environment
  • Cut back on caffeine
  • Avoid large meals and alcohol before bedtime
  • Trying a meditation light to help relax

7.Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental toxins

You may want to check your home for radon, which can seep into your home through the basement. However, institutes like the Harvard Medical School say that the different types of radiation emitted from power lines, microwaves and cell phones does not pose a risk.

Other toxins may contribute to an unhealthy environment that could increase your risk of developing cancer. Asbestos, benzene, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and aromatic amines are among the unsafe hazards that can raise your or a loved one’s risk of developing many types of cancer. If you are concerned that you or your family are exposed to any of these environmental toxins or radiation, you may want to consider conducting at-home tests for these substances. For more information on harmful chemicals, read more about Cancer Schmancer’s “Dirty Dozen” hormone-altering chemicals you should be aware of.

8.Schedule regular screenings

While it may not be a preventive measure, regular screenings can help detect cancer early, when it is more treatable. Regular screenings typically take place annually or every other year. If you have a family history of certain cancers or have other risk factors, your doctor may recommend starting screenings at a younger age or having them done more frequently.

Cancer Schmancer offers “Cheat Sheets” to help you identify when something might be awry. If you notice an unusual discharge, feel a lump, notice a new mole, or any other atypical changes to your body, express your concerns to your doctor right away.

How to support someone facing cancer

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with cancer, Mend Together offers a suite of online tools designed to help patients communicate and coordinate with friends and family. The Gift + Cash registry lets you or a helper choose the healing items that you need most during and after treatment, while the community journal minimizes the work it takes to keep friends and family updated on your health. When you create a free Gift + Cash registry with code SCHMANCER100, Mend Together donates $30 to Cancer Schmancer to help support our vital mission of early cancer detection and prevention.