10 ways to reduce your cancer risks right now

April 25, 2017 Providence Health Team

Concerned about cancer? You can take comfort in the fact that cancers don’t develop overnight – and you can significantly reduce your risk by the actions you take right now.

At least 70 percent of known causes of cancers are avoidable when people adopt healthy habits. You probably already know some of them. Not smoking is one habit you can avoid, but there are other ways you can add more disease prevention strategies to your lifestyle. Try these 10 tips to help lower your cancer risk.

  1. Eat more fish
    Fish, especially wild salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel, is loaded with anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. These fats are linked to reduced instances of colon, breast and prostate cancers. Aim to eat one of these “fatty” fishes three to four times per week. If you can’t or don’t want to eat fish, you can also find omega-3 in flaxseed oil and chia seeds.
  2. Drink your coffee
    Here’s another reason to enjoy your daily coffee. That cup of java contains beneficial compounds like the B vitamin riboflavin and antioxidant phytochemicals – along with caffeine itself. These have been shown to reduce the risk for prostate, uterine, breast and liver cancers.
  3. Go for the greens
    We all know that veggies are good for us, but those deep, dark greens are some of the best cancer-preventing foods you can put on your plate. Spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, mustard greens, collard greens and Swiss chard all contain cancer-fighting folate, flavonoids and carotenoids. Add more dark greens to your salad and incorporate them in cooked dishes every day.
  4. Move
    Moderate exercise can cut the risk of cancer by 30 percent or more. A mere two hours of walking per week can be helpful although more intensity brings greater benefits. Add 30 to 60 minutes of hiking, biking, swimming or calisthenics to your schedule two or three times a week.
  5. Cut out the sweet drinks
    Sugary drinks contribute to obesity, and obesity increases your risk of a wide range of cancers. Energy-dense foods and drinks can be occasional treats, but they should not be part of your everyday diet. Try adding a squeeze of fresh lemon, lime or orange juice to cold seltzer instead of drinking soda.
  6. Eat garlic
    Garlic has powerful cancer-fighting compounds that may reduce the risk of stomach, colon, pancreas and breast cancer. Many dishes are enhanced by adding garlic, but you can also get the benefits by consuming garlic in capsules.
  7. Drink green tea
    Green tea has been linked to reduced rates of breast, colon, prostate, ovarian and lung cancer. While black tea is also a good choice, green tea contains three times as many polyphenols, flavonoids and catechins – a powerful antioxidant punch for fighting free radicals and keeping cancer at bay.
  8. Cut out fries and chips
    When foods are fried or roasted at high temperatures, the cancer-causing compound acrylamide forms. Acrylamide is one of the bad substances also found in cigarette smoke. Try swapping out the French fries and chips for pretzels, crisp veggie sticks, walnuts and almonds.
  9. Drink more water
    Essential for overall health, water is your ally for cutting your risk of cancer risk. Liquids help dilute and flush cancer-causing compounds out of your bladder, among other organs. Drink at least 8 cups of fluids per day.
  10. Get regular screenings
    Not getting routine cancer screenings is itself a cancer risk. Check with your doctor about scheduling mammograms, colonoscopies, pap smears or prostate exams to detect any problems early.

These are just some of the simple lifestyle changes you can do to make a big difference in reducing your risk of cancer. Always consult your provider if you have concerns about cancer, and be sure to discuss any new diet you’re planning to follow.

Additional resources: 

Tips for screening and preventing colorectal cancer.

Understanding risks and treatment options for lung cancer

Do you have a tip for reducing cancer risk?

Share a comment below.

About the Author

The Providence Health Team brings together caregivers from diverse backgrounds to bring you clinically-sound, data-driven advice to help you live your happiest and healthiest selves.

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