20 Behaviors That Significantly Increase the Risk of Cancer from 20 Behaviors That Significantly Increase the Risk of Cancer

20 Behaviors That Significantly Increase the Risk of Cancer

Full Story
20 Behaviors That Significantly Increase the Risk of Cancer
iStock

20 Behaviors That Significantly Increase the Risk of Cancer

In America, the disease in which abnormal cells divide uncontrollably and destroy body tissue, kills more than half a million people a year, making cancer the second leading cause of death in the country, exceeded only by heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 1,600 people a day died of cancer in the U.S. in 2013 alone. 

Being calcium-deficient
iStock

Being calcium-deficient

This dietary mineral is important not only for healthy bones. While study results have not always been very consistent, evidence does suggest that men and women who had the highest intakes of calcium through both their diet and supplement use had a reduced risk of some cancers compared with those who had the lowest calcium intakes, according to National Cancer Institute.

Vitamin D deficiency
iStock

Vitamin D deficiency

Studies have investigated whether people with higher Vitamin D intakes or higher blood levels of Vitamin D have lower risks of specific cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. The cancers for which the most human data are available are colorectal, breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer. Research suggests that Vitamin D acts as an anti-tumor agent by regulating genes involved in the spread of cancer cells.

Eating a lot of charred meats
iStock

Eating a lot of charred meats

The problem is that they are cooked on very high temperatures. The consumption of meats that are cooked well done, charred, or burnt was associated with a 24 percent increase in risk. Grilling or cooking at high temperatures leads to the formation of suspected human carcinogens known as heterocyclic amines (HCAs). What inhibits them are commercial marinades rich in polyphenolic antioxidant containing spices, according to a study.

Using suntan booths
iStock

Using suntan booths

“They are incredibly dangerous and, unfortunately, very poplar,” Dr. Elizabeth Hale, spokesperson for the Skin Cancer Foundation and board-certified dermatologist, says. By using tanning beds and lamps you are exposing your skin to ultraviolet radiation. “Even before you’re 35, you increase your chance of developing skin cancer by 75 percent; each session increases it by additional 20 percent,” she adds. Also, people tend to expose parts of the body that don’t normally see a lot of sun, Dr. Hale says. These areas are very sensitive and prone to skin cancer.

Not using sunscreen
iStock

Not using sunscreen

The most common mistake people make, according to Dr. Hale, is thinking that they don’t need sunscreen. It is not true that you only need to apply it only at the beach. Research has shown that most skin damage is the result of incidental sun exposure – that’s when you’re pretty much everywhere but the beach and have not put sunscreen on. The UV rays penetrate the clouds and windows so they are going to get you if you’re not ready. Apply at least 15 minutes before you go outside, and apply enough. Most adults need about the amount they can hold in their palm to fully cover all exposed areas. Doctors recommend that people apply sunscreen lotion with an SPF of at least 30 at least every two hours.

Consuming food and drinks with artificial sweeteners
iStock

Consuming food and drinks with artificial sweeteners

Reducing the sugar content in products comes at a price. Artificial sweeteners are added to preserve the taste, but they have been shown to cause even more damage than sugar itself. Splenda is among the worst, as it has been linked to different types of cancer. However, more studies need to be done to confirm a connection. Experiments on rats have shown that Aspartame, the market names of which are NutraSweet® and Equal®, can cause the development of cancerous cells in different parts or the body. The sweetener’s carcinogenic effects are increased when exposure begins in the womb.

Having an infectious disease
iStock

Having an infectious disease

Hep C or Hep B, HIV, HPV, Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV)… Worldwide, infections are linked to about 15 to 20 percent of cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. Some viruses and bacteria can cause cancer or at least significantly increase the risk of developing cancer. They do so by disrupting the signaling that normally keeps cell growth and proliferation in check. Also, infectious diseases weaken the immune system, which means the body is not fully capable of fighting off cancer-causing agents.

Being overweight or obese
iStock

Being overweight or obese

The biggest risk factor of developing cancer is obesity, Dr. Nita Lee from the University of Chicago Medicine says. “It has even overcome smoking.” A large percent of breast and ovarian cancer, especially, is associated with obesity, she adds. Cancers associated with overweight people and obesity make up 40 percent of Cancers Diagnosed in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sitting too much
iStock

Sitting too much

Sitting for long periods of time increases your risk for colon, endometrial and, possibly, lung cancer by 66 percent, according to a study, which looked at more than 4 million individuals and 68,936 cancer cases. The research found that even in physically active individuals, sitting increased the risk, and the risk worsened with each two hour increase in sitting time. In contrast, physical activity reduces inflammation, which in turn reduces your risk of many types of cancer.

Avoiding fish
iStock

Avoiding fish

Fish is a superfood when it comes to protecting you from several cancers. For example, with prostate cancer specifically, men’s consumption fish more than 5 times a week was linked to a 48 percent lower risk of prostate cancer death than did men consuming fish less than once weekly. Research shows that people eating diets with a moderate amount of seafood have lower risk of cancer and other chronic diseases and longer lives, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Loving fat foods too much
iStock

Loving fat foods too much

The association between fat intake and several common cancers, such as those of the colorectum, breast, endometrium, ovary, and prostate, received its strongest support from correlation studies on people. Breast cancer is less common in countries where the typical diet is plant-based and low in total fat, according to BreastCancer.org. Avoid trans fats, found in margarine, store-bought cookies, crackers, fried foods, pastries, and other baked goods.

Eating a lot of processed meat
iStock

Eating a lot of processed meat

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified processed meat as a carcinogen, something that causes cancer. And it has classified red meat as a probable carcinogen. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, eating just one hot dog a day raises your risk for colorectal cancer by 21 percent. Processed meats and cold cuts are usually high in fat, salt, and other preservatives. For red meat, there was evidence of increased risk of colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Radiation exposure
iStock

Radiation exposure

Some research has suggested there may be a link between breast cancer and radiation exposure. This includes x-rays, CT scans and PET scans. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation from the sun can lead to melanoma. Although radiation may cause cancer at high doses and high dose rates, public health data do not absolutely establish the occurrence of cancer following exposure to low doses and dose rates, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

High intake of dairy (bit not calcium)
iStock

High intake of dairy (bit not calcium)

Research suggests that there could be a link between dairy intake and the risk of developing ovarian and prostate cancers. Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. High levels of galactose, a sugar released by the digestion of lactose in milk, have been studied as possibly damaging to the ovaries and leading to ovarian cancer, according to Harvard School of Public Health. Leafy greens like spinach and kale are the best source of calcium anyway.

Chronic inflammation
iStock

Chronic inflammation

Inflammation, which is often described as redness, swelling, warmth, and pain in certain parts of the body, is a natural process – it’s how the immune system protects you from viruses and bacteria. The problem is when the swelling gets out of control. Research also shows that inflammation plays a role in obesity, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Taking estrogen
iStock

Taking estrogen

Estrogens, a group of female sex hormones, are known human carcinogens, according to the National Cancer Institute. For instance, taking combined menopausal hormone therapy can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Menopausal hormone therapy with estrogen alone increases the risk of endometrial cancer.

Being exposed to certain chemicals in the environment
iStock

Being exposed to certain chemicals in the environment

Environmental chemicals that may be present in the air, water, food, and workplace can increase the risk of cancer, research shows. Exposure to asbestos is linked primarily to lung cancer, whereas exposure to benzidine, a chemical found in certain dyes, is associated with bladder cancer. Canned goods are a problem because of the BPA chemical (bisphenol A) in the cans. The chemical is used in the production of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. But studies link it to health problems like diabetes, neurological disorders, and breast and prostate cancers.

Drinking too much
iStock

Drinking too much

The Department of Health lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. The most common cancers linked to excessive drinking are head and neck cancers, esophageal, liver, breast, colon and rectum, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Smoking
iStock

Smoking

The most damaging culprit is the tobacco. Tobacco smoke contains many chemicals that are harmful to both smokers and nonsmokers. Breathing even a little tobacco smoke can be harmful. Among the 250 known harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke, at least 69 can cause cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Skipping the annual checkup
iStock

Skipping the annual checkup

Some forms of cancer cannot be screened for; some grow for long before they cause pain, others very rapidly; people don’t go for annual checkups because they are scared of the potential results or don’t have insurance; false negatives; and non-specific warning signs. Whether non-definitive symptoms indicate cancer depends on the patient’s age, medical and family history, and health habits, Dr. Solomon Graf, a hematology/oncology specialist for UW Medicine and the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, says. Routine screening has been proven to be effective in preventing the disease, he adds.