How to reduce your personal cancer risk with simple tips in everyday life
Created: 04/01/2023 18:48
By: Carolin Gehrmann
The development of cancer is favored by a number of factors, including genetic predisposition.
Nevertheless, there are some tips that everyone can implement in everyday life to minimize their personal cancer risk.
Bremen – Cancer is a disease that, in principle, can affect anyone.
But the personal risk can be significantly reduced by a healthy lifestyle.
An estimated 40 percent of all cancers in Germany can be traced back to factors that can be influenced and avoided, as a study by the
German Cancer Research Center
in Heidelberg determined in 2018.
Your own behavior can therefore play an important role in the development of the disease.
At the same time, however, it does not mean that those affected have caused their illness themselves, as the
German Cancer Aid
Genetic factors can also promote the growth of tumors.
Health-conscious behavior can reduce the risk of cancer
However, a change in personal lifestyle is always worthwhile, since health-conscious behavior not only significantly reduces the risk of cancer, but also of other diseases such as heart attacks, diabetes or strokes.
Many people still do not make sufficient use of this potential for personal health promotion and fall ill, although it could have been avoided under certain circumstances.
The most important tips for everyday life, which can be implemented with relatively little effort in everyday life, at a glance:
Smoking and cancer: 19 percent of cancer cases can be traced back to tobacco use
One of the most important measures to prevent cancer is to stop smoking.
According to a study by the German Cancer Research Center, 19 percent of all new cancer cases in Germany can be traced back to the consumption of tobacco - that's almost one in five.
Around 90 percent of all lung cancer cases are caused by cigarette consumption, but it also triggers 20 other types of cancer, such as colon cancer or liver and kidney cancer.
Lifelong smokers lose an average of ten years to cancer
The habit costs smokers an average of ten years of their lives, which they lose to cancer – at least for lifelong smokers.
Statistically, those who give up smoking can gain a few more years.
Then it is only between two and eight years that are lost, as the
Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ)
But it is also worth stopping if you already have cancer.
This could improve the chances of the treatment working.
In addition, the risk of cancer coming back decreases when you stop smoking.
The cancer risk of obesity is still underestimated
Being overweight is a risk factor that many people still underestimate.
But it could soon become an even greater cancer risk than smoking, the International Agency for Cancer (IARC) warns - at least in some regions of the world.
In Germany, at least seven percent of cancers are attributed to being overweight.
Obesity is often associated with colon cancer or breast cancer, but according to the
German Cancer Research Center
, tumors in the liver or kidneys can also be traced back to it.
Increased body weight is often responsible for chronic inflammatory processes in the body.
It also often leads to elevated insulin levels, which according to the
World Cancer Research Fund
increases the risk of colon and breast cancer.
In addition, fat cells produce hormones, including estrogen, which is responsible for breast cancer.
, the risk of cancer increases the more overweight you are.
It is therefore best to avoid the extra pounds right away – that is easier than getting rid of them.
Nevertheless, losing weight is worthwhile, since it is very likely that the metabolic processes that promote cancer return to normal as the weight decreases.
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Diet: Which foods cause cancer and which are suitable for protecting yourself
The right diet can influence the risk of cancer to a considerable extent.
And not only by avoiding obesity, but also because some foods or the way they are prepared are considered carcinogenic.
Others are said to have an anti-cancer effect.
Processed meat in particular, such as in sausage products, is classified as carcinogenic.
Red meat, mate tea or drinks with a temperature of over 65 degrees are also considered likely to be carcinogenic, as is the substance acrylamide, which is produced during heavy frying, frying or baking.
Dietary fiber in whole grains and vegetables can protect against cancer
However, some foods also protect against cancer: dietary fibers in particular, such as those found in whole grain products and in fruit and vegetables, reduce the risk of colon cancer.
A likely explanation is that fiber stimulates digestion, which means that cancer-promoting substances are transported out of the body more quickly.
According to the SZ
, almost eight percent of all new cancer cases in Germany could be
avoided through a healthier diet.
Alcohol and cancer - The less you drink, the lower the risk of malignant tumors
Alcohol consumption is also considered a risk factor for cancer.
About two percent of cases in Germany can be traced back to this.
Alcohol promotes inflammatory processes in the body and affects estrogen levels.
Acetaldehyde is also formed when alcohol is broken down, which damages DNA.
The amount of alcohol consumed plays a particularly important role here, not its quality or price.
Just one bottle of wine per week increases the absolute cancer risk to around one percent, which corresponds to the consumption of five to ten cigarettes per week, as the
Exercise can minimize your personal cancer risk.
It is not the intensity that is important, but length and regularity.
Exercise and cancer risk – Six percent of cancer cases are caused by lack of activity
Lack of exercise also promotes the development of cancer: around six percent of diseases are attributed to a lack of physical activity.
Sufficient exercise not only has a positive effect on weight.
According to the
, it also sets in motion immunological-hormonal mechanisms that prevent the development of cancer.
However, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that you should at least get 75 minutes of sport or 150 minutes of moderate activity per week.
Pay attention to environmental influences - fine dust, radon and UV radiation can promote cancer
There are also influences in the environment that can have a carcinogenic effect, above all fine dust and radon.
However, they are only responsible for about one percent of cancer cases in Germany.
Particulate matter is mainly caused by car traffic.
It can therefore only be avoided to a limited extent.
However, the risk from UV radiation can be minimized by adequate sun protection, as this can reduce the development of skin cancer.
You should also avoid going to the solarium if possible.
Linked to lung cancer, radon gas is found in rock and can enter buildings, particularly basements and ground floors.
In newer buildings, protection must be in place by law.
Older buildings should be ventilated regularly or have the load measured to eliminate the source.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding reduce the risk of cancer in women
For women, having children can have a beneficial effect on cancer risk.
According to experts, the risk of breast cancer decreases by around seven percent with every birth.
With every six months that the baby is breastfed, the risk can be reduced by a further two percent.
According to the SZ, this may be due to the fact that pregnancy reduces the total number of menstrual cycles over the course of life, which means that there are fewer hormonal fluctuations overall.
Women should avoid taking hormones if possible to reduce the risk of cancer
Breast cells may also become more resistant to changes as a result of breastfeeding.
Pregnancy also reduces the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer.
If women during menopause resort to hormones to combat the typical symptoms, the risk of these diseases increases again.
Therefore, such preparations should not be taken permanently, but only for a few years.
The contraceptive pill also slightly increases the risk of breast cancer.
At the same time, however, this reduces the risk of developing a malignant tumor on the ovaries or uterus.
Avoid infections if possible – HPV, hepatitis or gastritis increase the risk of cancer
Certain pathogens also increase the personal cancer risk.
For example, human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer, but also some other types of cancer.
Vaccination, on the other hand, is considered an effective measure.
Both girls and boys can transmit the pathogen and should therefore be vaccinated.
According to the
, hepatitis B vaccination of newborns can reduce the risk of liver cancer.
Infection with the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which causes inflammation of the stomach lining, can also lead to carcinoma.
Therefore, some sufferers should be treated with medication, but only if persistent gastritis is present or first-degree relatives have had gastric cancer.