Can cancer be prevented?

While many aspects of cancer remain unknown at this time, it is possible for you to adopt life habits that can help you prevent the disease.

There are therefore things you can do to positively affect your health and minimize certain risk factors.

Here are a few recommendations that will help reduce your likelihood of developing cancer.

Stop smoking!

Main cancers concerned: lung, bladder, pancreas

Cigarette smoke contains at least 3,500 different compounds, many of which contribute to the development of cancer and cause the deaths of 6 million people every year.

Protect your skin from the sun

Main cancer concerned: skin cancer

Several studies have demonstrated beyond a doubt that excessive exposure to the sun translates to an increased risk of skin cancer, including melanoma.

The application of preventive sunscreens reduces the risk of actinic keratosis (precursor of skin cancer), squamous cell cancer and melanoma. It is recommended to use a sunscreen with a protection factor of at least 30. It is very important to avoid sunburn at any age, but especially for children.

Indoor tanning is not recommended due to the enormous risk of exposure to very high doses of cancer-causing UVA rays.

Keep your weight down

Main cancers concerned: colon, breast, endometrium

Obesity is an important risk factor for cancer since it causes a multiplication of certain inflammatory molecules that promote the development of mutations in precancerous cells, leads to higher levels of steroid hormone production and increases resistance to insulin.

Be active 30 minutes a day  

Main cancers concerned: colon, breast

Being physically active can considerably lessen your risk of developing several cancers.

The risk of breast and colon cancer can be reduced by 25% and cancers of the endometrium, ovary, lung and prostate cancer are also less frequent.

Reduce consumption of red meat

Main cancers concerned: colon, breast, pancreas

It has long been recognized that a diet rich in red meat and low in vegetables combined with excess weight and a low level of activity is linked to a high incidence of colorectal cancer.

The adverse effects of red meat and processed, cured meat are numerous: high caloric content, the production of carcinogenic compounds during cooking, and an abnormally low content of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.

It is recommended that the consumption of red meats be replaced by other sources of protein: fish, poultry, nuts, and legumes.

Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and legumes

Plants are the only foods that can slow the progress of the microscopic tumours that form throughout our lives. They produce an arsenal of nearly 10,000 distinct molecules that provide a form of preventive chemotherapy by creating an inhospitable environment for microscopic tumours.

The most beneficial plants are garlic, cruciferous vegetables, carotenoids (carrots, spinach, tomatoes), berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), green tea, nuts, soy, seeds and grains, olive oil, and citrus fruits.

Limit your daily intake of alcohol to two glasses for men and 1 glass for women

Main cancers concerned: oral cavity, breast

The alcohol consumption window for reducing the risk of mortality is narrower than one might think. Because of this delicate balance, it is important that you carefully choose the type of alcohol you consume.

Several studies suggest that moderate consumption of red wine can be beneficial.

In most cases, the risk of cancer is not due to alcohol as such, but in the acetaldehyde produced during metabolism. The simultaneous use of alcohol and tobacco carcinogens create a particularly dangerous cocktail.

Scientific study on alcohol and cancer risk - Éduc’alcool

Limit consumption of products with a high salt content

Main cancer concerned: stomach

Studies have shown that high consumption of salt is correlated with an increased risk of stomach cancer. It is best to use spices and herbs to flavour dishes as an everyday salt replacement because they are among the plants whose health benefits include anti-cancer action.

Turmeric is by far the champion in this category, but ginger, chili pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, sesame, pepper, parsley, rosemary, coriander and basil are also beneficial.

Do not use supplements to prevent cancer

Dozens of studies have concluded unequivocally that people who use supplements, whether of multivitamins, vitamin C or E or beta-carotene, exhibited no reduced risk of cancer. Overconsumption of antioxidant supplements, for example, may even be harmful and disrupt the delicate balance necessary to your health. Supplements can in no way replace the formidable biochemical diversity of the plant world.

Vitamin D is an exception to this rule. It is a supplement that can generate protective effects, especially for people living ion northern and southern climates. A daily intake of 1,000 IU of vitamin D is recommended during fall and winter.

Other things you can do to prevent cancer

Research in recent years has also identified several everyday actions that can maximize the benefits of disease prevention:  
  • Young women should be vaccinated against HPV.
  • Mothers should breastfeed their children for a period of six months.
  • Limit exposure to the carcinogenic chemicals responsible for polluting ambient air or the air inside the home.
  • Sleep more than 6 hours a night.
  • Develop stress management techniques.

Source :

Beliveau, Richard, Denis Gingras, Prévenir le cancer : comment réduire les risques, Trécarré, 2014, 263 pp. Borrow it
Richardbeliveau.org: www.richardbeliveau.org
Extenso, Centre de référence sur la nutrition de l’Université de Montréal : www.extenso.org

Comment on this article

Sign up for our newsletter







 

Related items

Supporting a work colleague with cancer

You work alongside a colleague who has just received a diagnosis of cancer, who is continuing to work during treatment or who has just returned to work. You're probably wondering how to relate to them. Readmore

Other cancer treatments

The mode of treatment used, whether it be radiotherapy, surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, or any combination of these four kinds of treatment will depend on a joint decision reached by all the specialists involved in your treatment and you. Readmore

The emotional challenge of a cancer diagnosis

The verdict is in: “You have cancer.” Your reaction: “Why me? What will happen now? How do I announce it to others?” The word “cancer” is still frightening, taboo and equated with death. It is seen as an invisible enemy to be eradicated. In this word there is the idea of something bad inside, the belief of being responsible for the illness and the notion of a disease without a cure. So what is it, exactly?

Readmore

Your appointment with the oncology social worker

Oncology social workers help people with cancer and their loved ones better adapt to the changes brought on by the disease and its psychosocial impact. 

Readmore

Appointment with the Pivot Nurse

The pivot nurse in oncology acts as a support resource for people living with cancer, from diagnosis right through the entire cancer experience, including treatments. 

Readmore