These Popular Habits May Increase Cancer Risk – Eat this, not that

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the US, behind heart disease at number one. “Most cancers are not inevitable. Genes are important, but diet and lifestyle are even more important in most cases.” says dr Ed Giovannucci, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. “You can lower your risk of cancer, and it’s never too late to start benefiting from change.” Here are five popular habits that have been shown to increase cancer risk. Read on – and don’t miss these to protect your health and the health of others Sure signs you already had COVID.


Study after study shows that sunbed use is linked to a higher risk of skin cancer. “The short answer is yes, tanning beds are just as harmful, if not more so than the sun, and there is no such thing as a safe tan.” says dermatologist Jennifer Lucas, MD. “There are many reasons to avoid tanning beds altogether… It’s the younger, female age group that’s really at increased risk of melanoma. It’s hard to say exactly what to attribute this to, but probably the biggest thing we see younger women are the ones in tanning beds. The safest way to get a tan is to tan without the sun. Recommend store-bought or professionally made tanning sprays or lotions/creams to maintain your healthy glow.”

Sad woman drinking wine in the kitchen.

Experts are now warning of this no amount of alcohol is considered “safe” to drink. “Less than one in three Americans recognize alcohol as a cause of cancer,” says Harriet Rumgay, researcher at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization. “It’s similar in other high-income countries and probably even lower in other parts of the world.”

Overweight woman lying on sofa with smartphone and eating chips

If you sit for hours at work and then watch TV for hours in your free time, you put yourself at risk of serious health problems, doctors say. “Long periods of sitting increase risk of colon, ovarian and endometrial cancer” says Karen Basen-Engquist, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Behavioral Sciences at MD Anderson. “Get up and move at least once an hour. Stand while on the phone or walk around the house during TV commercial breaks. A few minutes of light activity throughout the day can add up and help lower your risk of cancer.”

No smoking sign

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the US, according to CDC. “Fifty percent of smokers die from a smoking-related disease, and the life expectancy of one in four smokers is reduced by as much as 15 to 20 years,” says Edward D. Gometz, MD. “Before the advent of widespread tobacco use in World War II, lung cancer was rare. So rare, in fact, that doctors have had to report cases of lung cancer to the federal government to help identify the local environmental cause of the disease in affected populations, much like how mesothelioma cases are reported today. It is now estimated that over 85 percent of all lung cancers are caused by tobacco.”

man eating a burger

Research shows that a diet high in processed junk food is strongly correlated with a higher risk of cancer. “Our study results suggest that of the estimated 80,110 new cancer cases attributed to poor diet in 2015, approximately 16% were due to obesity-mediated associations.” says dr Fang Fang Zhang, cancer and nutrition researcher at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. “For example, high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) increases the risk of obesity, and obesity increases the risk of 13 types of cancer. We estimated that over 3000 new cancer cases in 2015 were due to high consumption of SSB. Certain new cancer cases are attributed to the direct carcinogenic effects of certain foods and still represent the majority (84%) of the diet-related cancer burden in the US. These include low consumption of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and high consumption of red wine and processed meat.”

Ferozan Mast

Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for bringing science and research-backed information to a wide audience. Continue reading

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