Worldwide, cancer is the second most common cause of death. In Germany today, 4 million people are living with cancer. The German Cancer Research Center has determined that at least 37% of cases can be prevented by a healthy lifestyle.
Watch out for risk factors
The exact causes of cancer are being researched worldwide. Many possible risk factors are already known – these include Genetic factors (inherited predisposition to cancer) and Environmental influences (z.B. Air pollution). Numerous people develop cancer without being able to prevent it. However, experts agree that about one-third of all diseases are related to an unhealthy lifestyle.
Known risk factors include:
- Smoking and passive smoking
- Unhealthy diet (too few fruits and vegetables, red meat, fast food)
- Lack of exercise
- Alcohol consumption
- UV radiation
- Infectious diseases (hepatitis B, HPV)
Each and every individual can do a lot to prevent cancer. If you take the following rules to heart, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing the disease.
Rule 1: Find and maintain a healthy weight
The connection between cancer and obesity is well researched. Since 1975, the number of people who are overweight has tripled. Studies show that high body weight and/or high body fat can cause several types of cancer, including colorectal cancer, kidney cancer, esophageal cancer, gallbladder cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Women who are overweight are more likely to be affected by breast cancer, endometrial cancer and ovarian cancer.
Here’s what you can do: A healthy body weight is a BMI (Body Mass Index) between 18.5 and 24.9. Find your comfort weight and maintain it. Instead of short-term diets, focus on healthy habits: With a balanced diet and sufficient exercise, you can maintain a healthy weight over the long term.
Rule 2: Eat well and healthy
Everything you ingest directly affects your body. Some foods contain ingredients that stimulate the growth of cancer cells. For example, red and processed meats have been shown to increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Other substances in foods have been shown to slow growth – these include fiber, for example.
What you can do: Eat fiber-rich whole grains and legumes regularly. Include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Avoid too much sugar, high-fat food, fast food, processed and red meat (beef, pork, lamb). Cook yourself and your loved ones fresh meals from regional and seasonal ingredients more often.
Rule 3: Drink as little alcohol as possible
Too much alcohol can make you sick. It is considered a contributor to many cancers, such as cancer of the mouth, throat, larynx, and liver. According to cancer research, it doesn’t matter whether you drink beer, wine or spirits – even small amounts of alcohol can increase your risk of developing the disease.
Here’s what you can do: Question your alcohol consumption. Here you can find out if you drink too much. The less you drink, the better it is for your health. By avoiding alcohol, you not only reduce your risk of cancer, but many other diseases as well.
Rule 4: Stop smoking
It is nothing new that cigarettes are harmful. About 90% of all lung cancer cases are caused by smoking. People suffering from throat or larynx cancer are also frequent smokers. Even secondhand smoke increases the risk of developing these cancers.
What you can do: Becoming a non-smoker – it’s easier said than done, but it’s worth the effort. Many smokers need several attempts before they quit. The most important thing is to keep at it. Here you will find an overview of the most promising methods.
Rule 5: Think about sun protection
sunbathing is good. Sunburn hurts. And it damages the skin in the long run. UV radiation is considered the greatest risk factor for the development of skin cancer – this applies to both the natural radiation of the sun and the artificial radiation in solariums. Proper UV protection is the best prevention.
This is what you can do: The WHO recommends avoiding direct midday sun between 10 am and 4 pm, and then prefer to stay in the shade. Pay attention to the UV index: if it is very high, wear light, protective clothing and a sun hat. Apply sunscreen with a high sun protection factor every 2 hours. This is especially true for children who have very sun-sensitive skin.
Rule 6: Breastfeed your baby
Breastfeeding has many health benefits for your baby. Breast milk protects his immune system during development and can prevent infections in early childhood. Breastfeeding for a long time can protect the child from developing asthma. Breastfeeding is also healthy for you as a mother – it has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Here’s what you can do: If possible, you should breastfeed your baby. Studies show: The longer you breastfeed, the lower your risk of developing breast cancer.
Rule 7: Go to preventive examinations
A healthy lifestyle is one side of the coin – early detection is the other. In Germany, only just under half of women and not even one-fifth of men go for preventive checkups. However, these help to effectively fight various types of cancer in their early stages.
You can do this: Take advantage of early detection and go for health checks – they are covered by health insurances. We have summarized all recommended preventive examinations in a checklist.