Most of us know someone affected by cancer. It's relentless, and seemingly everywhere.
But did you know that there are easy ways to help prevent it?
The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 1.7 million new cancers will be diagnosed this year. Most likely someone you know will be in that group.
At first, I found that statistic extremely alarming. About 1.7 million cases. I don't want to be one of those (and I’m sure that you don’t either). But then I took a deep breath. (Try it now, it's really calming. Breathe in for the count of four, then exhale even more slowly. Feel better?)
When I took a breath, I was encouraged: after all, about one-third of the expected cancer deaths this year will be lifestyle related, meaning they're caused by a lack of physical activity, obesity and poor nutrition.
Bingo. Make a different choice and you can perhaps affect that outcome of this devastating diagnosis.
Now that's everyday wellness.
Here are three simple ways for us to stay well together:
Eat fresh, dark greens. Did you know that it matters which vegetables you eat? Certain foods can turn on or off different genes in our body, genes that may either increase our cancer risk or genes that can fight cancer. Not all greens are created equal. Next time you reach for something green, try broccoli instead of green peas. Research suggests that broccoli (but not peas) might actually alter gene expression and help prevent cancer in some people.
So whether you steam it (currently a favorite at our house) or roast it (especially good with a little olive oil and sea salt), or puree it for soup (use broth if you want a vegan option, or try it with yogurt), try to add broccoli into your diet once a week. You can lower your risk of cancer while you eat something delicious!
Sweat more. If you don’t want to be one of the 1.7 million new cases of cancer this year, then put on your sneakers and get moving. In January, the American Cancer Society released it’s 2012 Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity Cancer Prevention, and they recommend 150 minutes of moderate intensity (or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity) physical activity each week. That is hard to do all at once. So break it up—it all counts. Grab 10 minutes in the morning before you get your kids up, or maybe 10 minutes at lunch time while running errands, or 10 minutes while dinner is cooking. Be more mindful of when you can move, and I bet that you’ll find yourself moving more.
Strike a pose. Yoga feels great, so it must be good, right? New research is showing just that! In 2010, a nationwide randomized controlled trial showed that yoga is great for cancer survivors (symptoms such as sleep improved in just four weeks). But it can help prevent cancer too, by lowering your stress levels. Stress can lead you to make unhealthy diet and exercise choices, so lowering stress will help you make cancer-preventing choices across the board. So dust off that mat and consider holding a few yoga poses today. There are many easy ways to start, from classes to at-home dvds—you can even borrow one from the library to try.
Remember: Stay active and make good food choices today. Breathe. And don't look for the easy way out. The answer may not lie with the pill du jour. Try nutrient-packed vegetables, get moving, and work on your stress—the research shows it may help to lessen your risk!
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