31 Simple Ways to Prevent Cancer | Reader's Digest

31 Simple Ways to Prevent Cancer

Small changes to inoculate yourself against cancer.

from Stealth Health

21. Have your partner feed you grapes. They’re great sources of resveratrol, the cancer-protecting compound found in wine, but don’t have the alcohol of wine, which can increase the risk of breast cancer in women. Plus, the closeness such an activity engenders (we hope) strengthens your immune system.

22. Sprinkle scallions over your salad. A diet high in onions may reduce the risk of prostate cancer 50 percent. But the effects are strongest when they’re eaten raw or lightly cooked. So try scallions, Vidalia onions, shallots, or chives for a milder taste.

23. Make a batch of fresh lemonade or limeade. A daily dose of citrus fruits may cut the risk of mouth, throat, and stomach cancers by half, Australian researchers found.

Unnecessary Chemicals

24. Take a 30-minute walk every evening after dinner. That’s all it takes to reduce your breast cancer risk, according to a study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Turns out that moderate exercise reduces levels of estrogen, a hormone that contributes to breast cancer. When 170 overweight, couch potato women ages 50-75 did some form of moderate exercise for about three hours a week, levels of circulating estrogen dropped significantly after three months. After a year, those who lost at least 2 percent of their body fat had even greater decreases in estrogen. Another study linked four hours a week of walking or hiking with cutting the risk of pancreatic cancer in half. The benefits are probably related to improved insulin metabolism due to the exercise.

25. Buy organic foods. They’re grown without added pesticides or hormones, both of which can cause cellular damage that may eventually lead to cancer.

26. Learn to love dandelions. Using commercial pesticides on your lawn may increase your risk of cancer, since most contain pesticides such as 2,4-D (linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma) and MCPP (associated with soft-tissue cancers). Plus, pesticides used solely on lawns don’t have to go through the same rigorous testing for long-term health effects as those used on food. And, as E/The Environmental Magazine noted in a 2004 article, no federal studies have assessed the safety of lawn-care chemicals in combination, the way most are sold.

27. Buy clothes that don’t need to be dry-cleaned. Many dry cleaners still use a chemical called perc (perchloroethylene), found to cause kidney and liver damage and cancer in animals repeatedly exposed through inhalation. Buying clothes that don’t require dry cleaning, or hand washing them yourself, can reduce your exposure to this chemical. If you must dry-clean your clothes, take them out of the plastic bag and air them outside or in another room before wearing.

28. Choose cucumbers over pickles, fresh salmon over lox. Studies find that smoked and pickled foods contain various carcinogens.

29. Switch from french fries and potato chips to mashed potatoes and pretzels. A potential cancer-causing compound called acrylamide forms as a result of the chemical changes that occur in foods when they’re baked, fried, or roasted. Not surprisingly, many foods with the greatest amounts of acrylamide are also some of the worst-for-you foods, such as french fries, potato chips, and baked sweets. Although the results aren’t final yet, Michael Jacobson, Ph.D., executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, estimates acrylamide causes between 1,000 and 25,000 cancers per year. His agency has petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to set limits on the amount of acrylamide foods can contain. The FDA is studying the issue.

30. Go for a spray-on tan. They’re available in most tanning salons these days and, unlike tanning beds, there’s no evidence that they increase your risk of skin cancer.

31. Call up your bowling pal and hit the lanes. A study from the State University of New York at Stony Brook found that men with high levels of stress and those with less satisfying contacts with friends and family members had higher levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in their blood, a marker for the development of prostate cancer.