Avoid dry cleaners.
Many dry cleaners still use a chemical called perc (perchloroethylene), found to cause kidney and liver damage and cancer through repeated exposure or 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.
Cut out fries and chips.
When foods are baked, fried, or roasted at high temperatures (think French fries and potato chips), a potential cancer-causing compound called acrylamide forms, a result of the chemical changes that occur in the foods. Studies performed on rats have shown that prolonged acrylamide exposure is a risk for multiple types of cancer. Human studies are ongoing; but even if the results are benign, it’s healthiest to switch from French fries and potato chips to foods like mashed potatoes and pretzels.
Exposure to natural sun and tanning beds has been shown to increase your risk for skin cancer. But spray-on tans aren’t completely risk-free either; the chemical dihydroxyacetone (DHA) is an active ingredient in fake tanning products, including lotions and tanning spray, and the FDA warns that DHA shouldn’t be sprayed into the mouth, eyes, or nose because the risks of inhalation are unknown. When high amounts of these chemicals are breathed in, they can create free radicals, which have been linked to cell damage and cancer risk. The safest option: no tan at all. If you must, use an at-home lotion and wear protective gear. These sunscreen myths make dermatologists cringe, make sure you're not making them.
Recent studies have shown that calcium may protect against colon cancer: Participants in the Nurses’ Health Study who consumed more than 700 mg of calcium per day per day had up to a 45 percent reduced risk of colon cancer than those who consumed 500 mg or less per day. Although 700 mg may sound like a lot, it can add up with a cup of low-fat yogurt for breakfast (345 mg), a cup of low-fat milk with lunch (300 mg), and a cup of spinach in your salad with dinner (292 mg).
AS Food studio/Shutterstock
A Finnish study found that the fermentation process involved in making sauerkraut produces several cancer-fighting compounds, including isothiocyanates (or ITCs), indoles, and sulforaphane. To reduce the sodium content, rinse canned or jarred sauerkraut before eating. Better yet, skip the hot dog or sausage—these processed meats are associated with a greater risk of colon cancer.
Eat fewer smoked and pickled foods.
Studies find that smoked and pickled foods contain various carcinogens, so, for examples, choose cucumbers over pickles, fresh salmon over lox. Many of these pickled vegetables are common in Japanese and Korean cuisine; the number of people with gastric cancers is higher in Japan and Korea than in the United States.
Skip drying lamps at the nail salon.
Although it's incredibly low for the average woman, ultraviolet drying lamps at nail salons do carry an increased risk of skin cancer for every use. According to Georgia Regents University, anyone who has received between eight and 208 manicures will have damaged skin cells enough to raise the risk of cancer, though every machine emits different amounts of UVA radiation. For most of the lamps tested, eight to 14 visits over 24 to 42 months will create damaged DNA. Instead, protect your hands by applying sunscreen before your mani, or letting your nails air dry.
Take care of your sexual health.
Lemon Tree Images/Shutterstock
The more sexual partners you have (especially without condom use), the greater your risk of contracting human papillomavirus, or HPV, which can cause cervical cancer, throat cancer, and penile, vaginal, and anal cancer. The HPV vaccine is recommended for all tweens of both sexes at age 11 or 12, as well as for women up to age 26 and men up to age 21. Since the vaccine was first recommended in 2006, there has been a 56 percent reduction in HPV infections among U.S. teen girls, even with very low HPV vaccination rates, the CDC reports.
Reap the advantages of a daily aspirin Rx.
If your doctor’s recommended that you take aspirin to help your heart, this may also help protect your body from cancer. A study from the U.S. National Cancer Institute found that women who used aspirin daily had a 20 percent lower risk of ovarian cancer than those who used aspirin less than once a week. (Don’t take aspirin daily without your doctor’s approval; it can cause bleeding in your digestive tract).