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Daily Health Tip: 9 healthy habits that can reduce your risk of cancer

Eat your vegetables, exercise and go for regular health check-ups to stay away from cancer.

There is a good old saying that prevention is better than cure. And for a condition like cancer, this saying is the most applicable. Although, there's no guarantee that healthy and good habits make you immune, but it definitely reduces the risk. Dr. Muzammil Shaikh, Consultant Medical Oncology, P.D. Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Centre, Mumbai, lists out nine things that can help lower your risk of suffering from cancer. Here goes:

1. Shun tobacco in any form: We are not talking about smoking, but tobacco in any form like gutkha or khaini. While smoking causes cancers in different parts of the body like lung, stomach, oesophagus, pancreas and oral cavity, oral tobacco consumption increases the risk for different types of oral cancers. Even passive smoking is a huge risk factor for cancer and should be avoided. Here are 10 reasons why smoking is bad for you.

2. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables: While it sounds clich d, the importance of good eating cannot be stressed enough. Nature s bounty is a rich source of micronutrients and fibres, all that is beneficial for your body. Deficiency of certain micronutrients can increase one s chances of developing cancer. The fibre present in fruits and vegetables prevents cancer producing free radicals from coming in contact with the gastrointestinal track. Hence, consuming fruits and vegetables in adequate amount can reduce the chance of developing cancer of the gut. Here are 13 foods that can keep cancer at bay.

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3. Avoid processed meat: Excessive consumption of processed meat, especially red meat is linked to increasing risk of colon cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer. However, there is a catch -- some experts believe that eating red meat in moderate amount can reduce the risk of developing cancer, and it is a good source of protein, vitamin and minerals. But if you cross the limit, it can lead to inflammation of the gut. The Department of Health, UK has urged people to cut down their consumption from 90 gm a day to 70 gm to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. In India, consumption of red meat isn t that high given the other sources of protein rich foods. However, if you are a meat lover, keeping red meat consumption restricted to twice a week seems sensible. Here is how red meat leads to cancer of the gut.

4. Keep a tab on carbohydrate intake: Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy, fibre and glucose. However, an excess of it can cause harm. Complex carbohydrates comes through fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole, unprocessed grains like brown rice, wheat, broken wheat, etc. the simple carbohydrates come from white rice, white sugar, white pasta and other refined foods. The latter one can make blood sugar level go haywire and increase the chance of developing certain cancers like colon and breast cancer by increasing secretion of insulin-like growth factor-1, which could lead to a tumor. Here is how you can reduce carbohydrates in an Indian diet.

5. Maintain an ideal weight: Remember, your BMI is an important indicator of your weight, and it is best you stick to it. Excess of weight gain or abdominal obesity is linked to higher chance of developing cancer of the colon, breast and endometrium. Because fat in these areas increases the chances of developing a tumor. Fat tissue produces excess amounts of estrogen, high levels of which have been associated with the risk of breast, endometrial, and other forms of cancers. Obese people often have increased levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 that increases the risk of developing a tumor. Did you know weight gain during menopause can cause cancer?

6. Using a sunscreen: Excess sun exposure is directly linked to certain types of skin cancer. Hence, it is sensible to protect yourself from UV rays. By restricting sun exposure and wearing protective clothes, sunglasses, being in the shade when out in the sun can reduce your risk.

7. Get vaccinated: There are certain cancers that are preventable by vaccination. For e.g. Hepatitis B Vaccination has reduced the incidence of chronic liver disease and liver cancers. It is now a part of Government Immunisation Programme. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection is directly linked to the development of cancer of the cervix, and head and neck cancers in males. So visit your doctor for advice on vaccination.

8. Have safe sex: You can get certain cancers from the unprotected and unsafe sexual activities. There is an increased rate of cancer of the cervix in people who have multiple sexual partners. It also exposes you to infections like HIV and Hepatitis C, which can cause other cancers. Adopting safe sexual practices to reduce your risk of cancer. Here are eight effective methods of contraception that you should know about.

9. Go for regular health check-ups: Regular health check-ups can detect cancer early. For e.g. Pap smear testing yearly beyond age 40 and yearly mammogram have reduced mortality rate die to cancer of cervix and breast in women.

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