28 days of cancer prevention
By Kristine Salmon
Day 1: Move more! Current research shows that being physically active can reduce your risk of certain types of cancer. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day!
Day 2: Avoid sugary beverages. If you enjoy your daily soft drink or sugary coffee drink, try to skip the sweet beverage today. The American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) recommends avoiding sugary drinks for cancer prevention. Start with today, and then try to eliminate or reduce your sweet drink each day this month.
Day 3: Stay tobacco free. Research proves that not smoking or quitting smoking lowers the risk of getting cancer and dying from cancer.
Day 4: Apply sunscreen daily to all skin exposed to the sun. Sunscreen should be broad spectrum and SPF 30 or more.
Day 5: Fill 2/3 of your plate with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans. A plant based plate helps reduce your risk of cancer.
Day 6: Get active with your children! A healthy, physically active parent teaches their child to be healthy and physically active, as well! Research also suggests an adolescent who exercises regularly has a reduced risk of cancer in adulthood.
Day 7: Know your cancer screening recommendations. Discuss with your physician current screening recommendations for your age and family history.
Day 8: Spice it up! Adding different flavors to your dishes can make them more interesting and possibly help fight off cancer! The AICR’s prevention report concluded that garlic protects against stomach and colorectal cancer. Other spices and herbs like turmeric, allspice, thyme and rosemary are also being investigated for their cancer fighting abilities.
Day 9: Get creative! Sneak fruits and vegetables into your meals. Bake a sweet potato to make fries by cutting them into slices and season with olive oil and cayenne.
Day 10: Lose weight. It is estimated that 20 percent of all cancers are caused by excess weight.
Day 11: Go green. Dark green leafy vegetables are a must in a cancer preventative diet. A one cup serving is full of carotenoids, which research suggests can reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Day 12: Have fun. Reduce your risk of cancer by finding the fun! Pick an activity you enjoy (hiking, swimming, tennis, etc.), and you are more likely to stick to a regular activity routine.
Day 13: Try flaxseed. Flaxseed is packed with fiber, a component that protects against colorectal cancer. Buy whole flaxseed and grind in a coffee grinder. Add to cereal, yogurt or muffin batter to boost the nutrients in a meal or snack!
Day 14: Protect your lips! Don’t forget to cover up for lips from the sun. Excess exposure to sunlight may increase your risk of lip cancer.
Day 15: Stop using tobacco products. All forms of tobacco including cigarettes, cigars, pipes and chewing tobacco increase your risk of oral cancer. Add drinking alcohol to the mix and your risk for oral cancer increases more.
Day 16: Pump some iron. Resistance training (lifting weights) is not just for building muscle! Research suggests it may reduce cancer risk by regulating hormones and reducing body fat. Start with resistance training just two days a week to notice a difference in your health and well-being!
Day 17: Add fresh garlic to your meals! Garlic is a rich source of organosulfur compounds, which may help prevent cancer. Since cooking can inactivate an important enzyme, some scientists recommend letting garlic stand for ten minutes after chopping or crushing before cooking it.
Day 18: Ditch the car! Walking or riding a bike to get from place to place may help dramatically reduce your risk of cancer! Start with small trips, either walking to the park or biking to a local convenience store.
Day 19: Know your family tree. Some types of cancer have a genetic link and screening guidelines may begin sooner to decrease your risk cancer.
Day 20: Try spice and flavoring combinations from around the world and benefit from their cancer-fighting power! Oregano and basil give an Italian flare and cinnamon, saffron and ginger are great Moroccan combinations! Use turmeric, red pepper flakes and curry powder to experiment with Indian flavors.
Day 21: Limit consumption of red meats and avoid processed meats. To reduce your cancer risk, eat less than 18 oz. per week of red meats, like beef, pork and lamb, and eliminate processed meat such as ham, bacon, salami, hot dogs and sausages from your diet.
Day 22: Decrease alcoholic drinks. Experts recommend limiting alcoholic beverages to two daily for men and one for women to decrease your risk of cancer.
Day 23: Spend more time moving around to prevent cancer! Individuals who spend less time sitting and more time walking or doing activities of daily living can reduce risk of premature death from any cause, including cancer. Walk around a shopping mall, start a landscaping project, or take walking breaks at work to increase your activity!
Day 24: Hide the salt shaker. Researchers have shown that salt and salt-preserved foods may increase the chance of developing stomach cancer.
Day 25: Be held accountable! Making time to exercise with a friend, a group of peers, or a spouse encourages you to stick with activity and allows you be social at the same time.
Day 26: Aim for at least five fruits and vegetables of varying color every day. Fill your shopping cart with produce from all the colors of the rainbow.
Day 27: Practice body self-awareness. Notice breast changes, skin/mole changes, symptoms that are unusual or last more than two weeks and make an appointment with your physician to address.
Day 28: Make cancer prevention a family affair. Incorporate a whole food, plant-based diet with plenty of physical activity into your family lifestyle.