Director of Nursing Services, The Marie Keating Foundation
Many people underestimate the impact our daily choices could have on our health, and specifically on our risk of developing cancer in the future.
By introducing small but significant changes to seven areas of your life, and making the conscious effort to create healthy habits, you can significantly reduce your risk of some of Ireland’s most common cancers, such as breast, skin and bowel cancer.
Some of the ways you can do this are:
Exercise and activity:
To keep your body fit and healthy, it is recommended that everyone take 30 minutes of moderate to rigorous activity each day. Anything that elevates your heart rate is considered to be activity and the more regularly you do it, the easier it becomes.
Maintaining a healthy diet:
Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is an essential step in cancer prevention. Research shows that people who follow a healthy lifestyle and eat a balanced diet have an 18% lower risk of cancer compared with people whose lifestyle and body weight do not meet the recommendations.
Staying safe in the sun:
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland, but it is also the most preventable. By following the SunSmart code, applying SPF 30+ sunscreen regularly and avoiding time spent outdoors without proper protection, you can drastically reduce your risk of skin cancer.
Smoking accounts for 30% of the cancer cases diagnosed each year in Ireland. By not smoking, or quitting if you do, you can help to reduce your risk of cancer and improve your overall health.
Monitoring alcohol consumption:
Did you know that each year in Ireland over 500 people die from an alcohol related cancer? To help reduce your risk, follow the “less is best, none is better” motto when it comes to alcohol and ensure you do not exceed the recommended alcohol units per week.
Attending your cancer screening:
Cancer screening is the process of testing people with no symptoms for the early indicators of cancer. Ireland currently has a national screening programme for bowel, breast and cervical cancer. By taking up your invitation to attend screening when it arrives, it can detect cancer in its earliest stages and help to reduce your risk of developing cancer.
The HPV vaccine:
Around 99% of the worlds cervical cancer diagnosis can be linked back to the HPV virus. The HPV virus is also linked to other cancers such as head and neck. By vaccinating boys and girls before they become sexually active, we can effectively eradicate the spread of HPV and help to reduce the instances of HPV related cancers.