The National Cancer Institute estimated that in 2013 there would be over 1.6 million new cases of cancer in the U.S. and over a half-million cancer-related deaths. Just about everyone knows someone who's had some kind of cancer and when it's in the family, concerns about our own risk run deep.
But predicting cancer is not easy. After all, it is not just one disease but actually a grouping of over 100 different diseases that all share the common characteristic of abnormal cell division and invasion. Fortunately, there are some ways to get an idea of your personal cancer risk. There are even fairly simple changes you can make now to significantly improve your chances of staying cancer-free, says Graham Colditz, associate director for prevention and control at Washington University's Siteman Cancer Center. "We don't have to be fatalistic that we're all going to get cancer," says Colditz. No one can guarantee you'll avoid cancer but informing yourself about the different predictors and taking health precautions is a good place to start.
Nutrition and Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight and good nutrition may be the best way to avoid cancer. A 2009 report from the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research found that roughly one-third of cancers can be attributed to poor diet and physical inactivity. The solution here is simple and would have a big impact. "There's good evidence that maintaining a healthy weight and a more plant-based diet – fruits, vegetables, whole grains – relates to lower risk of some of our most common cancers," says Colditz. He also recommends cutting down on red meats because of their specific link to colon cancer.
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