By: Winnie Yu
When it comes to preventing cancer, you already know that eating fruits and vegetables can help lower your risk, as can regular exercise and nixing the cigarette habit. But the smart strategies don’t stop there. Here are four surprising yet easy-to-do habits that can help keep cancer at bay:
Healthy Habit No. 1: Floss.
A recent study at the University at Buffalo in New York found that having chronic gum disease raises the risk for head and neck cancer. The best way to protect against gum disease is good oral hygiene, which includes regular flossing and brushing, says lead author Mine Tezal, a dental surgeon and assistant professor of oral biology at the University at Buffalo. Be sure to brush at least twice and floss once a day. Hate flossing? Here’s a tiny guide to creating the flossing habit.
Healthy Habit No. 2: Avoid the dry cleaners.
The dry cleaning process uses perchloroethylene (perc), a solvent that removes stains … and has been linked to cancer. Studies have found that people who work in dry cleaning facilities are at greater risk for certain types of cancer, including kidney cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency says perc is a human carcinogen and is working with dry cleaners to develop environmentally safe cleaning methods. In the meantime, do what you can to reduce your visits to the dry cleaner or visit an organic dry cleaner that doesn’t use perc.
Healthy Habit No. 3: Watch the size of your wine glass.
If you’re like many people, you may be drinking more than you think, says Kimberly Stump-Sutliff, a registered nurse and associate medical editor for the American Cancer Society. Many people drink from large glasses that contain considerably more than the 5 ounces of wine in a serving. For women, drinking more than one serving a day has been linked to cancer; men should limit their alcohol intake to no more than two servings a day.
Healthy Habit No. 4: Keep stress in check.
Although research on the link between stress and cancer isn’t conclusive, most experts agree that stress is not good for your health. Stress weakens your immune system, making it hard for the body to fend off the abnormal growth of malignant cells, says Moadel. Plus, stressed-out people tend to eat poorly, skip workouts and take up smoking -- all habits that up the odds of cancer. So do what it takes to at least minimize stress. Meditate, try yoga, make time to see your friends and keep these stress relief methods for every occasion in mind.
“Making smart lifestyle choices can reduce your chances of getting cancer and help you fight if you do,” says Alyson Moadel, Ph.D., director of the Psychosocial Oncology Program at the Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in the Bronx, N.Y. “Preventing cancer is all about taking care of your body, spirit and mind.”
What are your favorite ways to stay healthy?
is Completely You’s mom blogger. She has two daughters (Samantha, 14, and Annie, 12) and is the author of seven books, including New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding and What to Eat for What Ails You. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Woman’s Day, AARP Bulletin, Prevention and WebMD.com.
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