Senior Health

2/23/2021 | By Seniors Guide Staff

Almost 2 million people were diagnosed with cancer in 2020, and around 600,000 died from its various forms. Breast cancer was the leading diagnosis among women, while prostate cancer was the most common in men. There are several common habits that increase risk of cancer – but some are more apparent than others.

It’s evident by now that smoking causes cancer, as does gaining weight from a poor diet and having a mostly sedentary lifestyle. However, some of the relatively small habits on this list might surprise you, but you should not ignore them.

Here are ten habits that can increase your risk for cancer and a few suggestions for lowering it.

1. Consuming Too Much Red Meat

You probably have identified red meat as increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease, but you might not realize it could also escalate your risk for cancer. In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified red meat as a “probable” human carcinogen.

Although more studies on this are needed, other studies have indicated that switching to a Mediterranean diet, with more plant-based foods and fewer animal products, could lower the risks of some types of cancer.

2. Sitting Most of the Day

A study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found a higher risk for three types of cancer – colon, endometrial, and lung – when comparing those who were mostly sedentary with those with the lowest levels of sedentary behavior.

They found that 30-60 minutes of daily exercise will not reduce your cancer risk if you go back to sitting for the rest of the day. Taking breaks throughout the day to walk, stretch, lift weights, or do any activity that keeps you from sitting for long periods works well.

3. Drinking Alcohol

Once inside your body, alcohol is broken down into acetaldehyde, a chemical that damages DNA and prevents its repair. It can increase the risk for colorectal, breast, esophageal, mouth, pharynx, larynx, and liver cancers. Drinking alcohol can increase body fat, which is yet another link to cancer. Limit alcohol consumption to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.

4. Getting Most of Your Nutrition From Dietary Supplements

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that a healthy diet lowers your cancer risk, but substituting dietary supplements to get the vitamins, minerals, and other components you would get from food doesn’t seem to have the same effect.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends taking a multivitamin for general health purposes. Still, for those looking to reduce their risk of cancer, a healthy diet is the way to go.

5. Sugary Beverages

Sodas and sweet tea, among other sugary drinks, cause a spike in blood sugar and insulin. And high levels of insulin can lead to an environment in which endometrial cancer cells can proliferate.

Reduce the amount of sugar in your tea and lemonade, but do not replace sugary drinks with diet soda. Those are also bad habits that increase risk of cancer!

6. Wearing Your Cell Phone in Your Bra

Studies have shown that some young women are developing cancerous tumors in the breast center where they carried their cell phones for ten years. None of these women had breast cancer mutations, and the tumors did not appear at the usual locations but instead where they carried their phones.

Women can protect themselves by carrying their phones in a purse or phone holster. Men should do the same as they are also at risk when carrying their phones in a breast pocket.

7. Working the Night Shift

A study published in the British Medical Journal discovered that night-shift work increased the risk of breast cancer. Researchers found that those who worked nights for at least 30 years were twice as likely to have developed the disease. Melatonin suppression appears to be the primary link between night-shift work and cancer risk.

8. Using Talcum Powder

Multiple studies have reported a connection between talcum powder’s use on women’s perineal area and ovarian cancer risk. One such study indicated that talcum powder also increases endometrial cancer risk, especially among postmenopausal women.

9. Poor Oral Hygiene

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that gum disease is correlated with a 24 percent increase in lung and colorectal cancer. Researchers believe that gum disease may change our immune response or send harmful bacteria throughout the body.

Brush and floss twice a day, and visit your dentist twice a year.

10. Getting a “Healthy-Looking” Tan

Excessive sun exposure is the leading cause of skin cancer, including squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma. Getting just one sunburn every two years triples your risk of deadly melanoma; being in the sun too long is one of the habits that increase risk of cancer.

Wear sunscreen of at least 30 SPF in the sun and avoid tanning beds!

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Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff