Top 10 Risk Factors for Cancer

By Helen Holmes on October 19, 2012

What you do, what you eat and what you do not do can take a toll on your health and expose you to a wide range of illnesses, including cancer.

Here are some of the most common risk factors for cancer:

       1.       Smoking

Tobacco remains to be the largest cause of lung cancer and many other preventable diseases around the world. Cigarettes contain over 4,000 chemicals, 250 of them are known to cause cancer. Studies found that smoking also increases the risk of cervical, oral, pancreatic, and kidney cancer. The health effects of smoking are cumulative. Meaning, the more cigarettes you consume, the higher the health risk becomes. The good news is – the risk of cancer decreases the moment you quit.        

2.       Incorrect diet

It’s nice to munch on some chocolate cookies, chips or burger while watching your favourite TV show, but consuming more of these processed foods can increase your risk of developing cancer. Sugary treats such as soft drinks help cancer cells invade your body while processed meats were found to cause colorectal cancer. 

3.       Obesity

Extra deposits of fats especially on the stomach have been found to be a major risk factor for cancer as cancer cells in this area are more active. Gaining extra pounds makes it easy for toxins to spread in the body and for the cancer cells to grow. So shed some fats and lower your risk! 

4.       Lack of physical activity

A study of more than 200,000 Australians reveals that people who sat for more than 11 hours a day had a 40% higher risk of dying in the next three years. Some experts even consider inactivity to be as dangerous as smoking. Experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate exercises or 75 minutes of rigorous body workout to stay healthy and cut the risk of colon, breast, lung and endometrial cancer.  

5.       Alcohol

You only need a shot of red wine to keep the doctor away, but more of alcoholic drinks could increase your risk of developing cancer. Cocktail drinks and beers are high in sugar and starch that do not do any good to your health. Studies show that just a glass of alcohol a day slightly raises the risk of breast cancer, and more is worse. So ladies and gents – beware! 

6.       Stress

Over time, your stress levels can put a toll on your health. It’s okay to feel anxious, worried and highly pressured at times but chronic stress can boost the production of cortisol which in turn, increases your risk of cancer. 

7.       Radiation

Majority of things we have today emit radiation (even bananas do!) But the radiation levels they emit do not exceed the safety level. However, there are devices like phones and electronics, even medical equipment such as those used in cancer treatment, that give your body an extra dose of radiation. 

8.       Extreme sunlight

Around 65% of skin cancer incidents are caused by exposure to UV radiation. So if you’re going out under the sun, make sure to apply sunscreen. But did you know that light emitted by tanning beds are fifteen times more dangerous than sunlight? So you may also want to avoid getting tan on a sunbed. 

9.       Aging

75% of cancers are diagnosed at the age of 55. When you age, your cells also age. But even though you cannot freeze time and defy aging, you can adopt healthy habits that delay the effects of aging. 

10.   Unsafe sex

Viruses, such as human papillomavirus (HPV) and Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV), passed from one person to another through sexual intercourse, could lead to the development of various types of cancer.

While you cannot change some things in your life – like your genes and age, you still control the largest aspect of your health. By keeping in mind these risk factors, you can do something to protect your body from developing cancer and lengthen your life.


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