5 New Year's resolutions to reduce cancer risk

December 28, 2016 | by Joseph Kash, MD

New year, new you — that’s how the saying goes. As the ball drops and the clock strikes midnight, our hopes, dreams and promises to ourselves for the year ahead kick in. If your resolutions range from losing weight to being kinder and volunteering more, you are not alone.

It may be hard to believe, but many resolutions you make are everyday lifestyle choices. Pizza or a salad? Pop or water? Watch television or go for a walk? Your daily choices can ultimately make you healthier over time — and just may reduce your risk for cancer.

If you’re a resolutioner, here are some things you can do to live healthier this year:

  1. Stop using tobacco. Smoking is the leading cause of cancer. Tobacco smoke is made up of more than 70,000 chemicals, including over 70 known to cause cancer in the mouth, throat, bladder, kidney, esophagus and pancreas. Smoking can also cause heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and more. Don’t lean on e-cigs for your choice of nicotine either, they aren’t any better for your health.

  2. Reduce your alcohol intake. Research indicates the more alcohol a person drinks regularly overtime, the higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) defines heavy drinking as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion for more than five days in the past 30 days. Small changes can make a big difference – cut down on your alcohol intake with these tips.

  3. Get moving. You’ve heard it once, and you’re going to hear it again and again. The benefits of fitness and daily exercise are endless. Regular physical activity can help you:

    • Reduce the risk of developing obesity-related cancers, high blood pressure and diabetes
    • Control weight
    • Maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints
    • Promote your physiological well-being
    • Reduce the risk of death from heart disease and reduce the risk of premature death

    The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults engage in moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 30 minutes for five or more days a week. Experiment with yoga, hop on your bike, pick up some weights and get moving!

  4. Eat better. Your body needs the right amount of nutrients to stay healthy. Having a larger waistline is the second biggest preventable cause of cancer after smoking. Obesity is linked with an increased risk of many cancers, including breast, colorectal, esophageal, kidney and pancreatic cancers. Follow an anti-cancer diet, made up of a variety of plant-based foods, such as deeply colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans.

  5. Get checked out. Detect cancer early with regular checkups and screenings. Regular check-ups and screenings prevent health problems down the line, and can also find diseases early before they have the chance to spread. Get on the road to good health and make 2017 the return of your annual physical.

How will you get healthy in the New Year? Tell us in the below comments.

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