One in every four people die from cancer.
Is this a statistic you want to live with?
Hopefully not. Hopefully that number makes you sick. Hopefully the reality of how many people will be diagnosed with cancer in their life, and lose the fight, makes you angry. Hopefully this knowledge makes you want to fight back against the disease that has already taken too many–because if it does, that means there’s hope for change.
Today is National Stand Up to Cancer Day and this post is dedicated to showing the many ways that we can take a stand against this disease in our own communities. Together, we can make a difference.
The First Step
The first step to fighting cancer is reducing your own risk of getting cancer. Many people believe that there is nothing we can do to avoid getting cancer, but this is not the case. Though some things are out of our control, research has show that there are many things we can do in our daily lives to significantly decrease our chance of developing cancer.
What can you do?
Here are some of the most important things you can do, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), to greatly reduce your risk of cancer. 1/3 of all cancer deaths in the U.S. are related to poor diet and activity. Here are some manageable ways to lower that statistic and greatly reduce your cancer risk.
Work to a healthy weight and maintain it throughout your life
The American Cancer Society states that “excess body weight contributes to as many as 1 out of 5 of all cancer-related deaths.” Though scientists are still doing more research to find out more about the link between body weight and cancer risk, maintaining a healthy weight will help decrease your chances of getting cancer.
If obtaining a healthy weight seems impossible, focus instead on losing a small amount of weight. A manageable first step will make achieving a healthy lifestyle in the long run seem much more doable.
Be physically active on a regular basis
Besides helping you to maintain a healthy weight, exercise helps to improve your immune system and hormone levels.
The ACS recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week in addition to every-day activities like walking or using the stairs.
Moderate activities get you breathing a little harder than normal. Examples of moderate activities include going for a walk, taking a bike ride, gardening in your yard, or cleaning your house.
Vigorous activities get your heart pumping and require the use of more muscle. Some good vigorous activities include jogging, cycling, dancing, and playing sports. If you’re bored with your normal routine, join a fun class at your local gym or grab a buddy and head out for a hike.
Make healthy food choices
Make sure to eat at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day. Eating vegetables in particular has been shown to reduce cancer risk. So, listen to your mother’s advice. Eat your greens.
Limit how much processed meat and red meat you eat. This could mean cutting back on eating bacon, lunch meat, beef, and pork. Try instead to eat more fish, poultry, and beans. When you do eat red meat, cut back on portion size and try leaner cuts.
Be smart in the sun
Check out our article on how to protect yourself from the sun and decrease your skin cancer risk.
Do monthly checks
You are the best source for early detection and treatment of cancer. Once a month, look over your body and check for any growing or abnormal shaped moles, hard lumps, or skin discolorations. Make sure to check hard to see areas like the ears, scalp, and back. If you notice something, make an appointment with your doctor right away.
Check out Stand Up to Cancer’s video to learn more.