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Taking control of your lifestyle to reduce cancer risks

Scientists think most cancers may be related to lifestyle and environment -- what you eat, drink, if you smoke and where you work and play. So the good news is you can help reduce your own cancer risk by taking control of things in your daily life.

Eat more cabbage-family vegetables. Important studies show these vegetables, also known as cruciferous, appear to protect you against colorectal, stomach and respiratory cancers. They include broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, all cabbages and kale.

Add more high-fiber foods. A high fiber diet may protect you against colon cancer. Fiber occurs in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, wheat and bran cereals, brown rice, popcorn and whole-wheat bread.

Choose foods high in Vitamins A and C. Vitamins A and C may help protect against cancers of the esophagus, larynx, stomach and lung. Fresh foods with beta-carotene including deep yellow, orange and green fruits and vegetables are the best sources. Vitamin C is found in most fresh fruits and vegetables.

Add exercise to your daily routine. Obesity is linked to cancers of the uterus, gallbladder, breast and colon. Exercise and lower calorie intake help you avoid gaining a lot of weight. Walking is ideal exercise for most people.

Trim fat from your diet. A high-fat diet increases your risk of breast, colon and prostate cancer. Fat-loaded calories mean a weight gain for you, especially if you don't exercise. Cut overall fat intake by eating lean meat, fish, skinned poultry, low-fat dairy products. Avoid pastries and high-fat candies.

Eat less salt-cured and smoked nitrite-cured foods. Cancers of the esophagus and stomach are common in countries where these foods are eaten in large quantities. Choose bacon, ham, hot dogs or salt-cured fish only occasionally.

Stop cigarette smoking. Smoking is the biggest cancer risk factor of all -- the main cause of lung cancer and 30 percent of all cancers. Smoking at home means more respiratory and allergic ailments for kids. Pregnant women who smoke harm their babies. Chewing tobacco is harmful, too, as a risk for mouth and throat cancer.

Go easy on alcohol. If you drink a lot, your risk of liver cancer increases. Smoking and drinking alcohol greatly increases risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx and esophagus. If you do drink alcohol, be moderate in your intake.

Respect the sun's rays. Too much sun causes skin cancer and other damage to your skin. Protect yourself with a sunscreen spf of 15 or more. Wear long sleeves and a hat, especially during 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Don't use indoor sunlamps or tanning parlors. If you see changes in a mole or a sore that does not heal, see your physician.

Excessive X-rays, estrogen and work-related exposure to harmful chemicals and fibers like asbestos are potential risks. Always check with your physician about the need for X-rays and estrogen. Wear proper clothing on the job.

Taking control of your lifestyle is key to helping you feel better and reducing your cancer risk.

Web posted on Thursday, November 4, 2004

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Updated: 04-Nov-2010 10:01


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