One in three men will be directly affected by cancer before the age of 75 but the good news is that half of all cancers are preventable. Health & Wellbeing looks at ways to reduce your risk.
Almost another third of cancers are thought to be due to an unhealthy diet.
Another third are due to cigarette smoking. Ten per cent of cancers are melanoma: a potentially fatal skin cancer but one that is mostly preventable.
The risk of getting cancer, of any sort and at any age, can be drastically reduced if you adopt the following lifestyle measures:
Cigarette smoking – even passive smoking – causes many cancers. Visit our Quit centre on tips for quitting.
Move your body.
You know the drill – 30 minutes or more on most, preferably all, days of the week for general health. To reduce your cancer risk further, do one hour of moderate activity or 30 minutes of vigorous daily.
Stay in shape.
Obesity increases your risk of many of the common cancers. Maintaining a healthy body weight reduces your risk of cancer and many other chronic diseases.
Eat for health.
Choosing a varied diet rich in fruit and vegetables will reduce your cancer risk. Try to include wholegrain cereals, low-fat dairy and lean meat. Limiting red meat to three-four times per week and steering clear of processed meats will help to reduce your cancer risk too.
Drinking alcohol increases your risk of cancer. Reduce your intake by adopting alcohol-free days and trying non-alcoholic drinks.
Be Sun Smart.
Protect yourself against ultraviolet radiation in sunlight by wearing a broad-brimmed hat, clothing to cover your arms, legs and body and wrap-around sunglasses Use shade when you can, especially when UV radiation is high – between 10am and 3pm. Cover exposed parts of your body with a broad spectrum water-resistant SPF 30-plus sunscreen 20 minutes before going out in the sun and reapply every two hours. Avoid tanning machines – they also transmit harmful UV radiation – up to five times the UV radiation of the sun.
Even if you have no family history of cancer, eat right, exercise, don’t smoke and avoid the sun, you can still get the disease. But the earlier the cancer is detected, the more likely you can be cured.
To detect cancer there are two things you can do:
- Watch out for signs and symptoms and see a doctor if you notice anything unusual.
- Participate in screening programs if they are recommended for you.
Signs that may mean cancer
Look out for lumps and sores that won’t heal (like ulcers in your mouth), coughs or hoarseness that won’t go away, unexplained weight loss, a mole or skin spots that changes size, shape or colour, blood in a bowel motion and changes in your toilet habits.