Today, February 4, is World Cancer Day—a global event that was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). The main goal in all of this is to raise awareness and reduce illness and death caused by cancer. Unfortunately, a large part of us have experienced the pain and heartache associated with this disease, whether watching loved ones go through it or battling it yourself and coming out as a survivor. And perhaps, one day, there will be a cure for every type out there, but for now, we can focus on taking the appropriate measures in preventing cancer and stopping it in its tracks. Below are a few healthy behaviors that are said to substantially lower the risk of developing cancer. Take a look!
Perform self-examinations at home
One of the most natural ways to prevent cancer is being self-aware of your body and checking your skin for any abnormalities. Doctors recommend performing monthly head-to-toe self-examinations of our skin, primarily to find new or changing lesions that may be precancerous or cancerous. The ones that are found and removed early are almost always curable. To check for breast cancer, monthly self-exams are also recommended to become aware of any changes in breast tissue. The more you’re familiar with your breast tissue, the more likely you’re able to point out small lumps before they become cancerous. Another option is the oral exam—the International Oral Cancer Association says, “Look for any white, red spots, or sores in your mouth especially on the floor of the mouth and on your tongue that do not go away after seven to fourteen days.” Take the time to know your body. And if you ever feel pain, discomfort, or anything unusual, see your doctor right away.
Eat healthy, whole foods
Several studies have proven that certain vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals in food have anticancer effects. And when it comes to preventing cancer with a healthy diet, the American Institute for Cancer Research says, “No single food or food component can protect you against cancer by itself. But strong evidence does show that a diet filled with a variety of plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans helps lower risk for many cancers.” That certainly catches our attention! So, what foods are known to be the most effective? Everyday Health magazine lists their top 10 foods to help prevent cancer, and they are garlic, berries, tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables (the group containing broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), green tea, whole grains, turmeric, leafy green vegetables, beans, and grapes.
Skip the tanning bed and get sunlight
This probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard that tanning beds cause skin cancer. While it’s true that tanning, in general, isn’t the healthiest of activities for our skin (mostly due to harmful ultraviolet radiation), we say sunbathing is the better option if we’re choosing one. That’s because we can protect ourselves with a high SPF (sun protection factor) sunscreen and soak in a healthy dose of vitamin D. What about vitamin D makes it so beneficial? The “sunshine vitamin” facilitates normal immune system function, reduces inflammatory responses to infection, and fights certain diseases and cancers. In fact, the National Cancer Institute mentions studies that conclude “vitamin D has been found to have several activities that might slow or prevent the development of cancer, including promoting cellular differentiation, decreasing cancer cell growth, stimulating cell death (apoptosis), and reducing tumor blood vessel formation (angiogenesis).”
Like we mentioned earlier, these steps don’t serve as cures, but they are proven—through research and studies—to lower our chances! If you know of any natural and holistic approaches to preventing cancer, please share them in the comment section below. Additionally, WorldCancerDay.org asks us to use hashtags on social media like #WorldCancerDay, #NotBeyondUs, and #WeCanICan as a way to take action against the most unfortunate disease. So, what do you say? Let’s come together in raising awareness so that we can continue working toward a cancer-free world!