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7 Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk in Seconds

Eating right, exercising and limiting alcohol and sun exposure can help prevent cancer.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Cancer feels inevitable—something you might get and cannot stop. That's not entirely true. While there's no guarantee you can prevent yourself from getting cancer, there are some ways in which you guarantee upping your chances you will. Avoid them. These tips from the experts at the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Health and the NIH can, in fact, reduce your risk instantly, and they have other benefits, too, like helping you be happier and healthier overall. Read on for the top 7—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Had COVID and Didn't Know It.


Eat This Diet

Young healthy laughing african woman eating breakfast and fruits in kitchen in the morning

"Although making healthy selections at the grocery store and at mealtime can't guarantee cancer prevention, it might reduce your risk," says the Mayo Clinic. "Consider these guidelines:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources — such as whole grains and beans.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Eat lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-calorie foods, including refined sugars and fat from animal sources.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation The risk of various types of cancer — including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver — increases with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you've been drinking regularly.
  • Limit processed meats. A report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, concluded that eating large amounts of processed meat can slightly increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

In addition, women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts might have a reduced risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats, such as olive oil, over butter and fish instead of red meat."


Get Your Vaccines

The female doctor syringe injection to the young patient put on a mask in the hospital

"Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections," says the Mayo Clinic. "Talk to your doctor about vaccination against:

  • Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for certain adults at high risk — such as adults who are sexually active but not in a mutually monogamous relationship, people with sexually transmitted infections, people who use intravenous drugs, men who have sex with men, and health care or public safety workers who might be exposed to infected blood or body fluids.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical and other genital cancers as well as squamous cell cancers of the head and neck. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys ages 11 and 12. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved the use of vaccine Gardasil 9 for males and females ages 9 to 45."


Get Your Vitamin D

vitamin D in a glass bottle on wooden texture

"Many experts now recommend 800 to 1,000 IU a day, a goal that's nearly impossible to attain without taking a supplement. Although protection is far from proven, evidence suggests that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, and other malignancies. But don't count on other supplements," says Harvard Health.

RELATED: The Easiest Way to Avoid a Heart Attack, Say Doctors


Lower Your Sun Exposure

Woman covering her face to block the sun light.

"To lower your chances of skin cancer, wear sunscreen and sun protective clothing, limit your time in the sun, and avoid tanning beds," says the NIH.


Watch Your Weight and Exercise Regularly

Feet standing on a scale.

"Obesity increases the risk of many forms of cancer. Calories count; if you need to slim down, take in fewer calories and burn more with exercise," says Harvard Health. "Physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer. Exercise also appears to reduce a woman's risk of breast and possibly reproductive cancers. Exercise will help protect you even if you don't lose weight."

RELATED: The #1 Cause of Diabetes, According to Science


Cut Down on the Drinking

refusing alcohol

"Excess alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, larynx (voice box), esophagus (food pipe), liver, and colon; it also increases a woman's risk of breast cancer" says Harvard Health. "Smoking further increases the risk of many alcohol-induced malignancies."

RELATED: 5 Ways to Prevent Dementia, Says Dr. Sanjay Gupta


Don't Use Tobacco

Mature woman with sore throat, standing in living room at home.

"Using any type of tobacco puts you on a collision course with cancer. Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Even if you don't use tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer," says the Mayo Clinic. "Avoiding tobacco — or deciding to stop using it — is an important part of cancer prevention. If you need help quitting tobacco, ask your doctor about stop-smoking products and other strategies for quitting." So follow this expert advice, and to protect your health, don't miss these Signs You're Getting One of the "Most Deadly" Cancers.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek
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