It’s rarely possible to know precisely what caused someone to develop cancer, especially since there are a lot of different factors that increase the risk of getting this terrible disease. However, despite the fact that cancer is one of the most unpredictable diseases, there are some risk factors that you can actually control.
Most of the time, it’s the lifestyle choices that a person makes that affect their chances of getting cancer, so the key to cancer prevention usually lies it their own hands. With that in mind, take a look at the top six things that can increase your chances of getting cancer and make sure you avoid them in order to live a longer and healthier life.
Smoking (including passive smoking)
Tobacco is the leading cause of not only cancer but also quite a lot of other serious diseases. According to a study by researchers from the American Cancer Society, smoking causes 48.5% of deaths from 12 different types of cancer.
The smoke coming off a cigarette releases hundreds of toxic chemicals in the air, which a smoker then inhales. Smoking cigars is even more dangerous, as one releases the amount of smoke as an entire cigarette pack. It really goes without saying how dangerous this is for smokers, but it’s just as dangerous for non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke since they breathe the air filled with toxins from the smoke.
If you’re a smoker, the smartest decision you can ever make is to quit. Kick the nasty habit and improve the quality of your life, as well as the lives of people around you.
X-Rays (prolonged exposure)
X-rays are types of high-energy electromagnetic radiation that comes from natural sources, such as radon gas and radioactive elements in the earth, but it can also be man-made. Man-made X-rays are those that are created in nuclear power plants and those that are used for various medical tests that actually save lives.
X-rays don’t pose a big risk of getting cancer if a person is not exposed to them frequently, as opposed to prolonged exposure, which definitely increases the risk of cancer. Therefore, you needn’t be afraid of medical x-ray imaging tests.
There have been studies estimating the risk of cancer from imaging tests, which showed that exposure to 10 mSv from an X-ray increases the risk of death from cancer by 1 in 2000 (.05%), which is an extremely small amount. The average radiation exposure per 1 X-ray is .28 mSv, which means that you would need about 36 X-rays throughout your entire life for your risk of cancer to be increased by .05%.
Various household products
Did you know that quite a lot of different household products can cause cancer? You certainly have lots of them lurking around the house right now, with absolutely no idea that they can be dangerous to your health.
The most common household items that contain hazardous, cancerogenic chemicals are kitchen and bathroom cleaners, carpet cleaners, fabric softeners and whiteners, deodorants and antiperspirants, air fresheners, scented candles and other products that are not fragrance-free, art and office supplies, pesticides and herbicides, various hair shampoos, conditioners and dyes that are not fully organic, and plastic shower curtains and other PVC materials.
Educate yourself on health-harming ingredients that household items contain and make sure you always read the labels on the products you buy, especially because many products marketed as “green” are not really natural at all.
Air pollution is one of the most hazardous types of environmental pollution that everyone should be aware of. No one wants to breathe contaminated air that not only can cause cancer, but also lots of other diseases, mainly respiratory ones and heart disease. However, not a lot of people actually take steps towards protecting the environment and, thereby, protecting themselves.
It’s difficult to reduce air pollution completely and improve the air quality but, if every single person in the world would play their part and be more environmentally friendly, they would make a huge difference. One way to start is to choose walking and cycling over cars, trains, and buses, especially since being physically active come with plenty of health benefits, including preventing cancer.
Some STD variations
You know that viral hepatitis B and C greatly increase the risk of getting cancer, but are you aware of the HPV – Human Papillomavirus? HPV is the most common STD variation that can cause cancer in both men and women. It is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to the development of cervical and other genital cancers, as well as cancers of the mouth, throat, head, and neck.
Although there’s no treatment for this virus, there is a treatment for the symptoms. Of course, prevention is the best protection so, apart from practicing safe sex, sexually active adults should get the HPV vaccine.
Ionizing radiation comes from radon, X-rays, gamma rays and similar forms of high-energy electromagnetic radiation can increase the risk of cancer only in case of prolonged exposure. However, radiation released in case of accidents in nuclear power plants or when nuclear weapons are made, tested and used can severely damage your DNA and cause different types of cancer.
If you limit your exposure to these six risk factors, all of which can be successfully avoided, you will definitely lower your risk of getting cancer. Be smart and take proper steps to improving your life and living it to the fullest, and you’ll never have to worry about developing cancer or other serious health problems.