There are some things you can’t overcome (like an innate lack of rhythm). Other things—like your hair color—you can change. The same goes for your cancer risk.
While your genetics and family health history are basically set in stone, you can make changes to your daily lifestyle and habits, boosting your odds of living a long and healthy life.
Try these smart steps to reduce your risk of cancer.
1. Bring on the broccoli. There’s a reason your mom made you eat your vegetables when you were a kid—they’re good for you! According to a new study, they may reduce your risk for cancer. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables contain a phytochemical called sulforaphane, which researchers found for the first time selectively targets and kills cancer cells while leaving normal prostate cells alone. Not a big fan of vegetables? Try these tips for sneaking beauty-boosting vegetables into your favorite foods.
2. Get (or stay) happily married. Your partner may help save your life. A new study published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology shows that being married boosts survival odds for both men and women with colon cancer at every stage of the disease. Researchers at Penn State's College of Medicine and Brigham Young University found that paired off patients had a 14 percent lower risk of death. Married couples were diagnosed at earlier stages of the disease and sought more aggressive treatment for colon cancer.
3. Munch on some parsley. Although parsley is mainly thought of as decoration sprinkled on a plate, a new animal study published recently in Cancer Prevention Research found that a compound in parsley (apigenin) can halt certain breast cancer tumor cells from multiplying and growing. Apigenin is also found in celery, as well as apples, oranges and nuts. So aim to eat a little parsley (bonus: fresh breath!) and some fruit every day to keep cancer at bay.
4. Battle the bulge. Watching your weight doesn’t just mean being able to slip on a pair of skinny jeans. Carrying around extra pounds can also increase your cancer risk. “It’s not specifically one’s weight that matters—it’s the body mass index that matters,” explains Julia Smith, M.D., Ph.D., clinical assistant professor in the division of oncology and director of the Breast Cancer Screening and Prevention Program at the New York University Cancer Institute at NYU Langone Medical Center.
Ideally, you want to strive for a BMI between 19 and 25 (Get your BMI here). Research published in The Lancet found that a progressive increasing BMI ups the risk of developing several different types of cancer, including endometrial, thyroid, colon and renal cancers. All the more reason to hit the gym and eat a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbs.
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