One in two men and one in three women will develop cancer at some point in their lifetime. As high as 75 percent of all cancers develop in people over the age of 55, with notable exceptions such as childhood leukemia, testicular cancer and brain cancer. Furthermore, as the American Cancer Society warns, "Social, economic and legislative factors profoundly influence individual health behaviors ... These issues not only affect a person's cancer risk, but also the risk of other major diseases."
But these dire statistics don't mean you should just give up trying to live a healthy life. Check out these five easy ways you can reduce your risk of cancer:
1. Don't smoke
Yes, this seems obvious. But in some states like Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia, more than a quarter of high school students smoke; nationwide, nearly 21 percent of all U.S. adults still regularly light up. And according to doctors at the Mayo Clinic, "Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, bladder, cervix and kidney — and chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas." The same holds true for secondhand smoke. So for your own health as well as others' around you: Don't smoke.
2. Broccoli and berries and orange juice — oh my!
The fruits and vegetables your mother pushed onto your plate might really be the ultimate superfoods. Broccoli contains high levels of indole-3 carbinol, which can slow down the rapid cell growth that fuels tumors. Researchers at the University of California-Berkeley have found that broccoli can stop the spread of cancer cells — though they caution it's still in clinical trials with humans. Strawberries and blackberries contain ellagic acid, which is also considered a powerful cancer fighter. And orange juice is high in folate, another key nutrient for combating carcinogens. As the National Cancer Institute's Rachael Stolzenberg-Solomon tells WebMD: "The thought is that when someone has low levels of folate, it's more likely for mutations in DNA to occur."
3. Shield yourself from the sun
Skin cancer is an extremely common form of cancer. Some statistics indicate that between 40 to 50 percent of Americans who live to the age of 65 will have skin cancer at least once. So what to do about it? Doctors suggest staying out of the midday sun, as well as wearing bright colors that reflect sunlight. Also, be sure to layer up in sunscreens free of parabens, preservatives and other potential toxins.
4. Exercise. Then exercise some more
Staying fit and keeping a low body-mass index is key to good health. A recent study from the Yale School of Public Health reports that "women who routinely perform moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise for 2.5 hours or more weekly have a significantly reduced risk of endometrial cancer." The Mayo Clinic suggests getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day to lower your risk for cancer.
5. Get regular physicals
One of the best ways to fight cancer is to find it early. Regular checkups and self exams are the quickest ways to detect a problem. Women can easily perform their own initial breast exams. And as the Mayo Clinic points out, doctors can perform tests to detect skin, colon, prostate, cervix and breast cancers. The key is to get yourself into the doctor's office for an appointment!