5 Personal Habits That Could Raise Your Risk of Developing Cancer

Of all the potential health problems a person could develop, cancer tops most people’s lists as one of the scariest, and with good reason. Cancer can happen to anyone, and there are certain risk factors you can’t do anything about – such as being genetically predisposed. 

However, you can drastically lower your own chances of developing cancer by forming and maintaining good, healthy habits as far as how you take care of yourself and cope with life. Here are a few habits to nix in favor of healthier alternatives.

1. Eating Processed Foods

Everyone’s heard the saying “you are what you eat” before and with good reason. Your body depends on you to feed it the nourishing, beneficial foods it needs to function at its best. However, unhealthy eating can lead to more than just undernourishment or potential issues with your weight.

Eating too many processed foods, preservatives, and refined sugars can also raise your risk of developing cancer. So always eat foods that are as natural as possible. And steer clear of sugary or hyper-processed foods like hot dogs and sugary breakfast cereals as much as you can.

2. Sunbathing

The warm sun can feel incredibly nice on the skin, and of course, people do need some sunlight to stay healthy and well-centered. But the UV exposure associated with prolonged or excessive sun exposure can put you at increased risk for developing cancer.

Always wear sunblock when you plan to be outside (SPF 30 or higher), and choose clothing – like long-sleeved shirts and hats – that can help you lower your exposure even more. You’ll definitely want to avoid actual sunbathing or tanning.

3. Drinking

It’s really no secret that alcohol isn’t good for you and that drinking is a bad idea in general. But while people do associate drinking with risks like liver damage or addiction, they may not immediately realize that alcohol can also contribute to the development of certain cancers.

When the body breaks down alcohol, acetaldehyde is one of the byproducts. This compound is incredibly bad for your health, as it actually attacks healthy cells while hindering the body’s ability to properly repair the damage. It’s also a carcinogen. So the more you drink, the higher your cancer risk.

4. Straightening Your Hair

Chemical treatments for processing hair have long been thought to contribute to a person’s risk of developing conditions like hormone imbalances and certain cancers. However, now there’s definitive proof that this is the case when it comes to specific commonly used hair products.

Chemical straighteners are just one example, as they’ve been definitively linked to the development of uterine cancer. There are even several hair lawsuit cases in progress. So if you currently rely on chemical straighteners to keep your hair looking the way you like it, you may want to start looking into alternatives.

5. Being Sedentary

Although no one’s doubting the therapeutic value of a good Netflix binge session on the couch now and then, you don’t want to lead too sedentary a lifestyle as a rule. Not only is being sedentary terrible for your heart, muscle tone, and general mental well-being, but it can also easily lead to obesity.

Obesity, in turn, can eventually lead to many other serious health issues, up to and including cancer. So if you’re not already exercising regularly and watching your weight, it’s officially time to start. 

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of various personal habits that can eventually lead to cancer, but they’re definitely some crucial ones to be aware of. Address them if they ring true to you, and monitor your lifestyle for other risk factors. You’ll be glad you did.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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