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How To Combat the Risk of Getting Cancer with LifeStyle Changes

Updated on March 29, 2012

What Is Cancer

Cancer is the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of cells which, if left untreated, can ultimately lead to death.  It is the second most common cause of death after heart disease.  Some cancers can be prevented by simple changes in lifestyle.

Most cancers take the form of tumors, although not all tumors are cancerous.  A tumor is simply a mass of tissue that serves no physiological purpose.  It can be benign or malignant.  Benign tumors are made up of cells similar to the surrounding normal cells and are enclosed in a membrane that prevents them from penetrating neighboring tissues.  Malignant tumors are capable of invading surrounding structures, including blood vessels, the lymphatic system and nerves.

Lung and Colo-rectal Cancers

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death. The chief risk factor for lung cancer is tobacco smoke. Quitting can reduce the risk, but ex-smokers remain at a higher risk than non-smokers. Long-term exposure to environmental tobacco smoke or second-hand smoke can also increase the risk for lung cancer.

Another form of cancer is colon and rectal cancer. This arise from small growths on the wall of the colon that may gradually develop into malignancies. Regular physical activity can reduce the risk and obesity can increase the risk. It is assumed that a high intake of red meat, smoked meat and fish or simple sugars appear to increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Protective lifestyle factors include a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, adequate intake of folic acid, calcium, magnesium and vitamin D.

Cruciferous veges contain phytochemicals

Breast Cancer

There are many risk factors for breast cancer but the main risk factor is high estrogen levels.  Estrogen promotes the growth of cells in responsive sites which include the breast and the uterus.  Alcohol can interfere with estrogen metabolism in the liver and increase estrogen levels in the blood.  Any factor that increases estrogen exposure may raise breast cancer risk.

Mono-unsaturated fats have been linked with reduced risk while certain types of polyunsaturated fat may increase risk. A diet rich in vegetables and regular exercise may have a protective effect.  Regular and vigorous exercise may reduce estrogen levels in the blood.  Although some of the risk factors for breast cancers cannot be changed (genetic), minimizing lifestyle risk factors reduces the chance of developing breast cancer.

Prostrate Cancer

The prostrate gland is situated at the base of the bladder in men.  It produces seminal fluid and if it is enlarged, it can block the flow of urine.  Prostrate cancer is the most common cancer in men.  African-American men have the highest rate of prostrate cancer of any group in the world.  Both genetic and lifestyle factors may be involved.  Possible culprits in the diet which can increase the risk for prostrate cancer are dairy products, refined grains and animal fats.  The diet should include more vegetables that are high in fiber, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli.

There are several other cancers such as cancers of the female reproductive tract, skin cancer, oral cancer and pancreatic cancer.  Scientists do not know everything about the causes of cancer but they have identified genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.  We as a people can have control over the lifestyle factors.

Exercise - may reduce the risk of colon cancer

Lifestyle Choices

Diet is one of the most important factors in cancer prevention. Diets high in fat and meat appear to contribute to colon, stomach and prostrate cancers. Persons who are heavy users of alcohol and tobacco have a higher risk for oral cancer than those persons who do not drink or smoke tobacco.

To increase your intake of potential cancer fighters, you should eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains. Limit your intake of alcoholic beverages. Do remember to retain an active lifestyle. Exercise may reduce the risk of colon cancer, perhaps by speeding the movement of food through the digestive tract, strengthening immune function and decreasing fat levels.

Exercise also prevents obesity, which is an independent risk factor for cancers of the prostrate, breast, female reproductive tract and kidney. Lifestyle choices can radically lower your cancer risk, so begin now and choose to combat the risk with lifestyle changes.

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