Food Is Not Your Enemy

5 Ways to Prevent Cancer

The dreaded “C” word. It’s the word we never want to hear our doctor say, the word we hope never has to be spoken in connection with any of our loved ones. But sadly, cancer is still painfully common, and in too many cases, lethal.

We hear a lot about treatment options, new drugs being developed, and survival rates if it’s caught early. What we don’t hear as much about is how to prevent cancer in the first place. But there are actually several things that you can do to significantly reduce your risk:

Strengthen your immune system. Chances are you’ve had some cancerous cells growing somewhere in your body at one point in your life, without you even knowing it. This is actually very common. But if your immune system is strong and healthy, it should zap those rogue cells into oblivion before they ever start causing problems, i.e. multiplying and growing into a malignant tumor. You can read up on specific steps you can take to boost your immunity here.

Eat your veggies. Vegetables–especially the cruciferous variety like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts–are helpful in preventing all cancers. But one study really drives home how important veggies are in reducing the risk of breast cancer in particular. This study, done jointly in New York and Athens, Greece, found that each daily serving of vegetables we consume (white potatoes don’t count!) is associated with a 10 percent reduction in the risk of breast cancer. Eat one serving daily, see a 10 percent reduction in risk. Eat five servings daily, see a 50 percent reduction in risk. This is huge.

Avoid overcooked meat. It turns out that the black stuff on well-done/overcooked meat–the grill lines, the charring, which contain mutagens called HCAs–can change our DNA. And when that happens, our risk of getting cancer goes up. Don’t eat any of the blackened parts if your meat gets charred.

Maintain a healthy weight. If you’re overweight, your risk for developing cancer increases significantly. Start making changes to your diet and lifestyle before you begin developing health problems.

Don’t smoke. Obvious, yes. But it’s worth repeating: Smoking is one of the leading causes of cancer. Tobacco use causes cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach, and cervix. Get help today if you’re still struggling to quit.