How to cut your chances of getting cancer

the heavier you are, the higher your chance of developing breast, womb, liver, prostate or pancreatic cancer. Photos / Getty
the heavier you are, the higher your chance of developing breast, womb, liver, prostate or pancreatic cancer. Photos / Getty

Reseach claims that making changes to our lifestyles could prevent 40 per cent of cancers from ever occuring.

According to medical journalist Anna Magee, there are eight things you can do to start lowering your risk.

Writing for Healthista, Magee details simple changes, from wearing SPF30 sunscreen to eating yoghurt, that will help lower the odds of developing the disease.

Here's how you can reduce your odds through basic changes to your lifestyle.

1. Lose a few kilos

According to Linda Bauld, professor of healthy policy at the University of Stirling, the heavier you are, the higher your chance of developing breast, womb, liver, prostate or pancreatic cancer.

The World Cancer Research Fund released new evidence earlier this year which links obesity with stomach cancer, the third biggest cancer killer in the world.

2. Limit your alcohol intake to a glass a night

The WCRF has also found the consumption of three or more drinks a day increases the chance of developing stomach cancer.

Professor Bauld recommends sticking to a glass-a-night limit, given that "the risk of cancer starts at even low levels of alcohol".

If you're wondering whether you're better off to save up your week's worth of units for a weekend drinking session, Bauld doesn't recommend it.

"High levels cause dehydration which makes cells more vulnerable to multiplying, and this effect is greater the more alcohol you drink on one occasion."

3. Eat probiotics

An increasing number of studies are linking gut health to lowered cancer risk.

The journal PLOS One details a recent experiment where a group of mice were given good bacteria through probiotic supplements.

The mice produced metabolites known to prevent cancer and they were also able to metabolise fats better.

Eating a mix of probiotics such as yoghurt, kefir and sauerkraut will help keep your gut bacteria healthy.

4. Take asprin

Evidence is growing which suggests aspirin could help prevent colorectal or bowel cancer.

Professor Peter Johnson, from Cancer Research UK, says taking aspirin for five years or more may reduce bowel cancer risks.

"It's also been found that people who do get cancer are at less risk of having it spread if they take aspirin."

If there is a family history of the disease, taking a low dose aspirin may be a good idea, he says.

But it comes with potential risks such as bleeding from stomach ulcers, so consulting your doctor before taking it is advised.

5. Marinate meat

The European Study on Diet and Cancer (EPIC), the largest study ever conducted on nutrition and cancer was started in the 1990s. It involved 500,000 people across Britain and Europe being tracked to see who would get cancer.

Key findings revealed an association between processed and red meat and a higher risk of developing bowel and stomach cancers.

Charred or well done meat was also found to be potentially associated with increased risk, due to the formation of cancer-causing heterocyclic amines (HCAs) which develop when meat is cooked at high temperatures.

But research from Kansas State University found by marinating meat in spices and herbs such as rosemary, thyme and oregano could lower the HCA components.

6. Up your fibre intake

The EPIC study also discovered that by increasing your fruit and vegetable intake to five portions a day, you could help prevent 14 different types of cancer.

Upping the amount of whole grains, such as brown rice and oats, you eat was also linked to lowering the risk of bowel cancer.

7. Wear sunscreen

A study at Ohio University has confirmed wearing SPF 30 sunscreen can not only help prevent sunburn, but also malignant melanomas.

Researchers genetically engineered mice to develop melanoma after applying chemical-based SPF 30 creams.

All resulted in a reduced incidence of tumours developed.

8. Get your 30 minutes a day

The EPIC study found people in active jobs or those who engaged in 30 minutes of exercise a day had a lower chance of developing cancer.

According to Professor Johnson, being active improves hormone levels, which can help, in particular, reduce the risks of breast and womb cancer.

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