Is it possible to prevent cancer?  When someone in the family has cancer, even though it is not the death sentence that it once might have been, it still hits hard. Your physical, emotional and financial health all suffer. Four out of every ten Americans are diagnosed with cancer at some point in their life. Half of those will die from it.

However, there are ways that you can improve your chances. These are common sense. It is hard to discipline yourself. This list includes losing weight, quitting smoking, reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption and also eating well.

The Not-So-Obvious Cancer Prevention List

However, aside from simple lifestyle steps like these, Americans should prevent their exposure to potential cancer-causing chemicals that may be present in their everyday lives. By reducing this exposure, each person also protects themselves from carcinogenic substances and betters their chances of avoiding this serious illness.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends the following:

  1. Filter your tap water to remove common carcinogens such as arsenic and chemical byproducts that result from water disinfection. A reverse osmosis filter is a good choice.
  2. Seal outdoor wooden decks and play sets. Both deck and play set building materials contained an arsenic pesticide absorbable by the body. Since 2005, regulations on these materials are more strict. Sealing them reduces the chance of exposure.
  3. Avoid stain-proofing chemicals. Both Teflon and Scotchgard are stain repellants used on fabrics, rugs and in the packaging for fast foods. They contain harmful chemicals. Simply stay away from greasy packaged foods and eliminate stain-proofing or stain-proofed items in the home.
  4. Wear both protective clothes and effective sunscreens when you are in the sun. Each year, more than a million cases of skin cancer are found. Avoiding overexposure can help you stay safe.
  5. If you eat meat or dairy products, steer toward the lower fat products. For example, choose ground round instead of ground chuck, fat-free yogurt instead of whole milk yogurt. Some cancer-causing pollutants are stored in the fatty tissues of animals. Consuming higher fat animal products increases your exposure to these pollutants.
  6. When buying produce, choose items from the EWG’s list of cleaner (as in less exposure to pesticides) produce: The Clean 15. Sign up to receive this list here: http://www.foodnews.org/. For other produce items, buy organic whenever possible.
  7. Minimize exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA hardens plastic used for bottles. It is also in the lining of canned foods, even organic canned foods. Baby bottles often contain this chemical. However, more and more states and cities are banning it. BPA acts as an endocrine and hormone disruptor in the body. Avoid infant formulas (preferably by breastfeeding), eat fewer canned foods and also choose food preparation items and water bottles free of BPA. You may have to call manufacturers to make sure you know what has BPA!

More Information

More information on these and other cancer prevention tips are available at the Environmental Working Group’s website: http://www.ewg.org.

Source: Environmental Working Group, EWG’s Cancer Prevention Tips, 24 June 2010.

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