It’s an unfortunate truth that cancer rates are higher today for many forms of the disease than ever before. Although researchers have a long way to go to understand the many facets of this complex disease, we know without a doubt that there are certain measures we can take in our daily lives to lower our personal risk for cancer.
At our Arizona cancer treatment and research center, we take a holistic approach to improving our patients’ overall health. Our recommendations don’t just help prevent cancer, but they also improve immune response, strength, energy, and general well-being, both physical and mental.
What’s more, we know that it’s not always easy to change some habits, so we’ve developed specific and simple strategies you can use to empower yourself and prevent cancer. Here are our top 5 tips:
1. Get good sleep.
When you get a good night’s rest of 6 to 8 hours, your body produces an important hormone called melatonin. This chemical is involved in many of the body’s key processes, including blood pressure regulation, free radical reduction, and immune system support. These properties make it a critical cancer preventer.
The pineal gland, located deep in the center of the brain, produces this important chemical as part of the natural sleep cycle. If your circadian rhythms are out of whack for any reason, your melatonin production drops. Many people who work night shifts have low melatonin levels and are therefore at a higher risk of cancer development. We recommend that our patients avoid nighttime work and do all they can to develop a consistent sleep routine.
We also recommend making sure all lights are out in the room where you sleep. The pineal gland is stimulated by darkness and inhibited by light, meaning it won’t produce much melatonin if you sleep in a bright room. Even making sure the light from your cellphone doesn’t hit your eyes at night can make a difference.
2. Eat a healthy diet.
We all know that eating healthful foods can improve our well-being in a wide range of ways, but this step is specifically important for cancer prevention. Eating junk foods causes an inflammatory response within the body, and inflammation is a major factor in cancer risk. You can learn more about inflammation in this past blog post.
The right food choices for you depend on a number of different factors, including your lifestyle and even your blood type. We offer customized nutrition counseling at EuroMed to help you create a workable plan that incorporates natural, organic foods packed with cancer-fighting nutrients and antioxidants and helps you avoid cravings for foods that might upset the balance. Check back on our blog next month to learn more about antioxidants.
3. Get regular exercise.
This tip seems like a simple one, but it can definitely be a challenge in our busy lives. Exercise is undeniably important for all of the body’s functions. Regular physical activity prevents osteoporosis, promotes the passage of blood through your liver for detoxification, and even encourages brain function. The stronger our systems are, the better able they are to fight off cancer-causing toxins.
Developing an exercise plan that works for you doesn’t have to mean spending hours at the gym every day. Consider adding an after-dinner walk to your routine a few evenings a week, or look into activities in your area that are both fun and get your blood pumping, such as swimming, dance classes, or nature hikes. Anything that gets you interested in moving is a good choice.
4. Maintain a healthy weight.
Numerous studies have shown that even a person who has no genetic predisposition or environmental risk factors for cancer has a heightened chance of developing the disease if he or she is overweight. Fat alone can cause a host of problems, so finding a healthy, trim weight is very important.
What is a healthy weight for you, though? That answer is different for every person, depending on your height, body shape, gender, and other factors. Determining your body mass index, or BMI is a good start, but it’s also wise to discuss that information with a doctor who can further your understanding. You can also come up with specific strategies for managing weight based on your own body chemistry.
5. Make good lifestyle choices.
This final tip involves the kinds of lifestyle choices you probably already think about, such as avoiding smoking, alcohol, and drugs, but it’s also more than that. Staying away from toxins in our environment is one of the most important things we can do to prevent cancer.
Many of the things around us, from certain clothing to food packaging and pesticides, introduce chemicals to our bodies that have the potential to cause cancer. Choosing natural, organically produced items — both food and household goods — is a great way to avoid many toxins. Even switching from a plastic to a glass water bottle can help. Overall, we encourage patients to think more about what makes up the things that are around them.
Do you have any other tips that help you live a healthy lifestyle and stave off disease? Tell us about them in a comment below.