I am a cancer survivor; I’m sure many of you can say the same thing. For years, cancer has been a plague on our society. Almost daily, the word cancer is used by many of us in talking about ourselves, our family or our friends. We all know of someone who has fought cancer and survived or others who have lost their battles with this terrible disease. Cancer has the potential to destroy a person’s life along with causing great pain for her or his loved ones. Fortunately, the incidence of cancer in our population has decreased in recent years, along with an increase in the survival rate. Cancer is no longer the death sentence it used to be. If a cancer cannot be cured, it can often be treated, allowing the person to live a productive, satisfying life. This is the direct result of remarkable medical advances along with healthy lifestyle changes.
So what actions can we, as individuals, take, to help us in the fight against this devastating disease? In researching this subject, I found there is a lot we can do to make a significant difference in reducing the occurrence of this illness. How we live our lives has a huge impact on cancer as well as on other diseases. In a Cancer Update from Johns Hopkins, I found some interesting information that I would like to share with you. To start with, cancer is a disease of the mind, body and spirit. A proactive and positive spirit is an essential weapon in the fight against cancer. Individuals who are angry, unforgiving and bitter are stressing their bodies and compromising their immune systems. A loving and forgiving spirit helps a person relax and enjoy life. We need to laugh a lot each day! Your immune system will improve and your risk for cancer will decrease.
In our bodies, we all have cancer cells which may surface when our bodies are stressed due to poor lifestyle choices. Many of us are not aware of the significance these choices can have on our health. The good news is that we have the ability to change our behaviors and lifestyles in a manner that will drastically reduce our risk for cancer. The Mayo Clinic states we should take comfort in the fact that some simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference. The following is a list of some of the most important choices we can make to decrease our risk for cancer and to live a healthy life.
- Do not smoke or chew tobacco. Avoid second hand smoke. These are some of the most important things people can do to reduce their risk for cancer. Fortunately there are a number of smoking cessation products and strategies to aid us in quitting.
- Make the necessary nutritional changes. Base your diet on vegetables, fruits and foods from plant sources, such as whole grains and beans. Limit fat, sugary drinks and caffeine. Obesity predisposes a person to a number of cancers including breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney cancer. Limit your alcohol consumption. Alcohol not only adds calories, but increases your risk for breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver cancer.
- Physical activity can help to destroy cancer cells. Exercising daily and deep breathing will oxygenate our blood which helps to wipe out the cancer cells. The general goal is to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Skin cancer is one of the most common and most preventable cancers. To lower your risk for skin cancer, avoid midday sun, stay in the shade, cover exposed areas, use sunscreen as directed, and avoid tanning beds and sunlamps.
- Talk to your doctor about immunizations to protect you from certain viruses that may lead to cancer. The Hepatitis B and the HPV vaccine can be life savers for high risk adults.
- Practice safe sex and avoid risky behaviors such as the sharing of needles.
- Regular self examinations and cancer screenings can help to diagnose cancer in the early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.
Johns Hopkins reports that due to producing cancer-causing chemicals, no plastic containers or plastic wraps should be used in a microwave. No plastic water bottles should be placed in the freezer.
In conclusion, although we all have cancer cells in our bodies, we have the ability to keep them inactive for the most part. Unfortunately, there will always be that incidence of cancer occurring in someone who has lived a good and healthy life. We don’t have all the answers, but it has been proven that good lifestyle choices can make amazing improvements in our health and in our lives.
Living life to the best of our abilities and taking good care of ourselves and other people will help to make the world a better place for everyone.