Easy Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer


My mother died of pancreatic cancer when I was 17. My father passed from lung cancer nearly 30 years later. These losses alone—not to mention those in my husband’s family—were enough to make me more cognoscente of what our family could do to reduce risk. While you can’t choose what your genetic make-up looks like, you can make the best out of what you have.

1. Avoid radiation- You may think that unless you live next to a power plant or fall into a vat of nuclear waste, you’re completely safe from radiation. However, everyday items like microwaves, cell phones, and even major power lines emit radiation. Don’t watch your food while it’s in the microwave; stand at least three feet away. Don’t rest your phone on your chest or stomach while watching TV, or sleep with it next to your head. Feel free to keep holding it up to your ear while on calls of course—that radiation is so brief and low that it won’t affect you, but extended proximity to organs over a lifetime can have detrimental effects.

2. Avoid acidic foods- The body has a naturally alkaline chemistry, which is disrupted by foods high in acid—including meats, grains, processed foods, and dairy. Alkaline ionized water health benefits include maintaining the body’s chemistry and preventing cancer, diabetes, high-blood pressure, and obesity. Foods with a higher pH level to coincide with alkaline water include fruits, veggies, soy and tofu. Wondering how you can eat well just on those items? Don’t worry—they make alkaline cook books for pH-friendly dining. Celebrities Victoria Beckham, Kirsten Dunst, Marc Jacobs, Chris Hemsworth and Reggie Bush all swear by the diet for leading healthier, leaner lives.

3. Maintain a healthy weight- Fruits and veggies are a must for those wishing to live long, healthy lives. However, eating healthy alone isn’t enough. Limiting fats and sugar, as well as exercising at least 30 minutes a day, are necessities in prevention. Knowing your body mass index (BMI) is essential in knowing how much work you need to do—if any. BMI is calculated with an individual’s weight versus their height and mass. You can find BMI calculators online with guides to easily understanding your results.

4. Limit alcohol intake- While red wine is linked to preventing heart disease, alcohol consumption overall can increase cancer risk. This is even truer for individuals who both drink and smoke. Studies suggest men should limit themselves to two drinks per day, while women should only consume one per day. Cancers linked to alcohol consumption include liver, oral, esophageal, breast, colon, and rectum. Pancreatic cancer is also tied to alcohol consumption, but not as definitively.

5. Don’t be tempted to tan- Sure, you might love that glow now—but in a few years, that time baking in the sun with only sporadic sunscreen application will catch up to you. Always wear at least SPF 30 on your face—SPF 50 if you’re fair—even on cloudy days. Be mindful of shade, how much time you’re spending in the sun on beach days, and that you can get melanoma even on hard-to-reach places—like your scalp, on your ears, and the tops of your feet.

Toni Okeson