How to prevent cancer

Cancer doesn't have to be an inevitable destiny. Scientists know exactly what triggers the disease. And everyone can do something against the biggest threats.

Destiny is in your hands

Being diagnosed with cancer is a shock that hits you hard. And yet almost half of all cancer cases could be prevented. Smoking alone triggers about every fifth tumor. The toxic cigarette smoke does not only cause lung cancer but many other kinds of tumors as well. Smoking is the most frequent self-imposed cause for cancer, but not the only one.

Being overweight increases cancer risk

In second place of cancer-causing agents: obesity. Why it causes cancer? Enhanced insulin levels increase the risk of almost all sorts of cancer, especially when it comes to kidney, gall bladder, and esophagus cancer. Overweight women produce increasing amounts of female sex hormones in their fat tissue and hence have a higher risk for uterine or breast cancer.

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Don't be a couch potato!

People who don't move enough are especially likely to get cancer. Long-term studies show that exercising prevents tumors. After all, working out lowers the insulin levels while preventing you from gaining weight. And it doesn't have to be high-performance sport. Even just going for a walk or a bike ride makes a big difference.

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Don't drink too much!

Alcohol promotes tumors in the oral cavity, the throat and the esophagus. The combination of smoking and drinking is especially dangerous and increases the risk of cancer up to a hundredfold. While drinking one glass of wine a day is healthy and supports the cardiovascular system, you shouldn't drink more than that.

Don't eat too much red meat!

Red meat can cause intestinal cancer. The exact cause has not yet been determined, but long-term studies show a significant correlation between the consumption of red meat and intestinal cancer. Beef is especially dangerous, but even pork can cause cancer to a minor degree. Meat consumption increases the risk of cancer one and a half times. Fish, however, prevents cancer.

No more BBQ?

When barbecuing meat, carcinogenic substances are released, such as polycyclical aromatic hydrocarbons. It has been proven in animal experiments that these chemical compounds can cause tumors. However, long-term studies with humans have not yet unambiguously proven the same. It's possible that consuming the meat causes cancer, not the way it is prepared.

Avoid fast food

A good diet consisting of vegetables, fruits and dietary fibers can prevent cancer. However, when conducting long-term studies researchers found that a healthy diet has less impact on cancer prevention than previously assumed. It only decreases the risk of getting cancer by a maximum of 10 percent.

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Too much sun is harmful

The sun's UV radiation can penetrate genomes and change them. While sunscreen protects the skin from sunburn, the skin absorbs too much radiation as soon as it starts getting tanned.

Cancer triggered by modern medicine

X-rays harm genomes. With an ordinary radiogram the exposure is only minor. But it's a different story for computed tomography, which you should only undergo when necessary. Magnetic resonance imaging is harmless. But did you know that you're even exposed to cancer-causing radiation when you're on an airplane?

Cancer triggered by infection

Human papillomaviruses can cause cervical cancer. Hepatitis B and C can cause hepatocytes to degenerate. The bacterium helicobacter pylori (pictured below) settles in your stomach and can cause stomach cancer. But not all hope is lost. You can get vaccinated against many of these pathogens and antibiotics help fight helicobacter pylori.

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Better than its reputation

The oral contraceptive pill slightly increases the risk of getting breast cancer, but at the same time it strongly decreases the risk of getting ovarian cancer. All in all ,the pill is more protective than harmful, at least when it comes to cancer.

A true stroke of fate

But even if you do everything right, you're never completely immune from getting cancer. Half of all cancer cases are caused by the wrong genes or simply age. Brain cancer is particularly likely to be inherited.

Avoid the midday sun

Never expose yourself to direct sunlight between 11am and 3pm. That's when ultraviolet radiation is at its strongest. Stay in the shade, though here, too, people with sensitive skin should be careful. UV radiation is weaker in the shade, but it's still there indirectly, because some of it is reflected.

Protect yourself with proper clothing

Suitable clothing can protect you quite well from ultraviolet rays. Wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts, as well as a head covering. The UPF, or ultraviolet protection factor, of textiles varies according to type of material, thickness and weave. There's also special UPF clothing. It has to comply with the internationally accepted UV Standard 801 and be marked with its protection factor.

Choose the right sun protection factor

Use a sunscreen whose sun protection factor (SPF) is suitable for your skin type and for local UV radiation levels. Make sure your sunscreen has a supplemental UVA filter. Since 2007, such products have been marked with a UVA logo. UVA rays are partly responsible for the development of skin cancer.

Calculate your sun protection time

The skin's intrinsic protection time amounts to between 5 and 20 minutes, according to skin type. Multiplied by the sunscreen's SPF gives you the amount of time you can stay in the sun. For example, type 1 with 5 minutes of intrinsic protection multiplied by SPF 50 equals 4 hours of protection from sunburn. But that time should never be used up completely.

Use enough sunscreen

On average, adults need about 35 grams of sunscreen to cover their bodies - comparable to about four level tablespoonfuls. Reapply it regularly, though that doesn't extend your sun protection time. And most importantly, always apply sunscreen 20-30 minutes before sunbathing.

Wear sunglasses

Frequent intense exposure to the sun can cause long-term damage to the interior of the eye. It often remains unnoticed and accumulates over the years. The result can be typical age-related disorders such as cataracts or retinal damage. Ultraviolet radiation is often underestimated, but even shortly after exposure to the sun, it can cause redness, irritation, itching and blurred vision.

Use a sun shade with UV protection

Beach umbrellas with UV protection can provide additional help. They have an aluminum coated lining that lets in fewer rays than ordinary fabric. Unfortunately there are no uniform standards, so the protective effect of these sun shades is unpredictable. That means applying sunscreen remains a must!

Protect yourself in the water as well

Water is especially dangerous, as the surface of the water intensifies the rays. Up to 60 percent of UVB radiation and a hefty 85 percent of UVA rays penetrate as far as half a meter under the water surface. Because swimming cools our skin, we often notice redness too late. So it's very important to use a waterproof sunscreen.

Sugar makes you fat!

Sugar is converted to fat in the body about two to five times more quickly than starches. In other words, when we consume sugar, we’re feeding our fat cells. The fructose in sugar is also metabolized by the liver, which can contribute to fatty liver disease. That can promote insulin resistance and lead to Type 2 diabetes – with a lifelong impact on your health.

Sugar affects your mood!

In small amounts, sugar promotes the release of serotonin, a hormone that boosts mood. But too much sugar can promote depression and anxiety. Sudden shifts in blood sugar levels can also lead to irritability, anxiety and mood swings.

Sugar contributes to aging!

We already know that sugar has a variety of health effects, but it also affects the skin. That’s in part due to glycation, the process whereby sugar molecules bind to collagen fibers. As a result, the collagen fibers lose their natural elasticity. Excess sugar also damages microcirculation, which slows cell turnover. That can promote the development of wrinkles, make you look older than your age.

Sugar is harmful to your gut!

The microflora of your gut promote digestion and protect your digestive system from harmful bacteria. Consuming too much sugar gets your gut microflora out of whack. Fungi and parasites love sugar. An excess of the Candida albicans yeast can lead to a host of annoying health symptoms. And sugar also contributes to constipation, diarrhea and gas.

Sugar can be addictive!

In overweight people, the brain responds to sugar by releasing dopamine, in much the same way that it responds to alcohol or other addictive substances. Test it yourself: avoid all sugary foods and beverages for ten days. If you start to get headachy and irritable after a day or two, and start craving sugar, then you could be suffering from sugar withdrawal.

Sugar makes you aggressive!

People who consume excess sugar are more likely to engage in aggressive behavior. Children with ADHD are also affected by sugar. For these children, too much sugar affects concentration and promotes hyperactivity. That’s why it’s a good idea for children to avoid eating sugar during school hours.

Sugar weakens the immune system!

Excessive sugar consumption makes it harder for the immune system to ward off disease. After consuming sugar, the immune system’s ability to kill germs is reduced by up to 40 percent. Sugar also saps the body’s store of vitamin C, which white blood cells need to fight off viruses and bacteria. Sugar also promotes the inflammatory response, and even minor inflammation can trigger numerous diseases.

Sugar promotes Alzheimer’s disease!

Studies have shown that excess sugar consumption increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A 2013 study showed that insulin resistance and high blood sugar values – both of which are common in diabetes – are associated with a higher risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Sugar increases cancer risk!

Cancer cells need sugar to proliferate. An international research team headed by Lewis Cantley of Harvard Medical School is researching how sugar might contribute to the growth of malignant cells. He believes that refined sugar may be what causes cancer cells to develop into tumors. He’s still testing that hypothesis but recommends that even slender people consume as little sugar as possible.

Sugar makes you stupid!

Excess sugar consumption may have a negative impact on memory. According to a study carried out by Berlin’s Charité University Hospital, people with high blood sugar levels have a smaller hippocampus – the part of the brain that’s key to long term memory. In the study, people with high blood sugar also performed more poorly on tests of memory than those with low blood sugar levels.

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