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Can cancer be prevented?
There are things you can do to positively affect your health and minimize certain risk factors.
Here are a few recommendations that will help reduce your likelihood of developing cancer.
Stop smoking !
Main cancers concerned: lung, bladder, pancreas
Cigarette smoke contains at least 3,500 different compounds, many of which contribute to the development of cancer and cause the deaths of 6 million people every year.
Protect your skin from the sun
Main cancer concerned: skin
Several studies have demonstrated beyond a doubt that excessive exposure to the sun translates to an increased risk of skin cancer, including melanoma.
The application of preventive sunscreens reduces the risk of actinic keratosis (precursor of skin cancer), squamous cell cancer and melanoma. It is recommended to use sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 30. It is very important to avoid sunburn at any age, but especially for children.
Indoor tanning is not recommended due to the enormous risk of exposure to very high doses of cancer-causing UVA rays.
Keep your weight down
Main cancers concerned: colon, breast, and endometrium
Obesity is an important risk factor for cancer since it causes a multiplication of certain inflammatory molecules that promote the development of mutations in precancerous cells, lead to higher levels of steroid hormone production and increase resistance to insulin.
Be active 30 minutes a day
Main cancers concerned: colon and breast
Being physically active can considerably lessen your risk of developing several cancers.
The risk of breast and colon cancer can be reduced by 25% and cancers of the endometrium, ovary, lung and prostate cancer are also less frequent.
Reduce consumption of red meat
Main cancers concerned: colon, breast, and pancreas
It has long been recognized that a diet rich in red meat and low in vegetables combined with excess weight and a low level of activity is linked to a high incidence of colorectal cancer.
The adverse effects of red meat and processed, cured meat are numerous: high caloric content, the production of carcinogenic compounds during cooking, and an abnormally low content of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
It is recommended that the consumption of red meats be replaced by other sources of protein: fish, poultry, nuts, and legumes.
Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and legumes
Plants are the only foods that can slow the progress of the microscopic tumors that form throughout our lives. They produce an arsenal of nearly 10,000 distinct molecules that provide a form of preventive chemotherapy by creating an inhospitable environment for microscopic tumors.
The most beneficial plants are garlic, cruciferous vegetables, carotenoids (carrots, spinach, tomatoes), berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), green tea, nuts, soy, seeds and grains, olive oil, and citrus fruits.
Limit your daily intake of alcohol to two glasses for men and 1 glass for women
Main cancers concerned: oral cavity and breast
The alcohol consumption window for reducing the risk of mortality is narrower than one might think. Because of this delicate balance, it is important that you carefully choose the type of alcohol you consume.
Several studies suggest that moderate consumption of red wine can be beneficial.
In most cases, the risk of cancer is not due to alcohol as such, but in the acetaldehyde produced during metabolism. The simultaneous use of alcohol and tobacco carcinogens create a particularly dangerous cocktail.
Limit consumption of products with a high salt content
Main cancer concerned: stomach
Studies have shown that high consumption of salt is correlated with an increased risk of stomach cancer. It is best to use spices and herbs to flavor dishes as an everyday salt replacement because they are among the plants whose health benefits include anti-cancer action.
Turmeric is by far the champion in this category, but ginger, chili pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, sesame, pepper, parsley, rosemary, coriander and basil are also beneficial.
Do not use supplements to prevent cancer
Dozens of studies have concluded unequivocally that people who use supplements, whether of multivitamins, vitamin C or E or beta-carotene, exhibited no reduced risk of cancer.
Overconsumption of antioxidant supplements, for example, may even be harmful and disrupt the delicate balance necessary to your health. Supplements can in no way replace the formidable biochemical diversity of the plant world.
Vitamin D is an exception to this rule. It is a supplement that can generate protective effects, especially for people living ion northern and southern climates. A daily intake of 1,000 IU of vitamin D is recommended during fall and winter.
Other things you can do to prevent cancer
Research in recent years has also identified several daily actions that can maximize the benefits of disease prevention:
- Young women should be vaccinated against HPV.
- Mothers should breastfeed their children for a period of six months.
- Limit exposure to the carcinogenic chemicals responsible for polluting ambient air or the air inside the home.
- Sleep more than 6 hours a night.
- Develop stress management techniques.
Beliveau, Richard, Denis Gingras, Prévenir le cancer : comment réduire les risques, Trécarré, 2014, 263 pp.
Borrow it (in French only)
Extenso, Centre de référence sur la nutrition de l’Université de Montréal: www.extenso.org