Some surprising ways to reduce cancer risk

Wednesday 10th December 2014 08:11 EST

Cancer is a disease we all fear, yet according to new figures there's been a steep rise in rates of types that are caused by lifestyle factors -triggered by excess alcohol, smoking, obesity and exposure to sun.
Instances of the disease affecting the liver, mouth, womb, kidney and skin have risen. While the numbers are shocking, the good news is these are cancers we can do something positive to try to prevent. Experts suggest that a good chunk of cancer cases can be prevented if people simply ate better, kept to a healthy weight and exercised more.
But knowing where to start can be hard. Below are some specific tips from the latest research. Some may seem small and simple but taken together as part of a healthy lifestyle, they could help lower your risk of a variety of cancers.
Have a beer..but make sure it's one: Beer may help protect against the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, which is known to cause ulcers and possibly linked to stomach cancer, so when consumed in strict moderation it could have some health benefits. But, drinking more than one or two alcoholic drinks a day will increase your risk of mouth, throat, oesophageal and liver cancer. And women should take extra care, as even one drink a day has been found to increase breast cancer risk by 10%. Experts now recommend aiming for two booze-free days a week.
Move every two hours: Scientists last month warned we should all sit less to avoid cancer. Indeed, the risk of developing cancers, especially womb, bowel and lung, rises by up to 10% for every extra two hours sitting, according to a new review of studies by the University of Regensburg in Germany. The effect appeared to be unrelated to how much exercise people took when they were not in a chair or sofa, suggesting that even people who are physically active may increase their cancer risk by staying immobile for too long at a time.
Keep fruit out of the fridge: Studies show that chilled fruit contains fewer cancer-fighting nutrients than fruit kept at room temperature. For example, tomatoes and peppers stored in a bowl rather than the fridge can contain double the betacarotene and up to 20 times more lycopene -both of which have been linked to lowering rates of cancers.
Don't microwave veggies: If you are in the habit of blitzing veggies in the microwave while trying to raise your intake, you might want to switch to steaming instead. While studies show microwaving vegetables won't lower their vitamin C content, one Spanish study found it could destroy 97% of broccoli's cancer-protective flavonoids.
Ditch your scented candle: Believe it or not, the air in your home can often be more polluted than outdoors. But while tobacco smoke is by far the worst pollutant, experts say that the volatile organic compounds released by certain cleaning products, air fresheners and some scented candles could be carcinogenic. While the jury is still out on how much of a threat this poses to human health, it's easy to limit exposure to these sources by opening windows and doors often to keep your home well ventilated.
Pass on the salt (and don't add extra): Salt is linked to 14% of stomach cancer cases in the UK. Our daily intake should be less than 6g (2.4g sodium) so don't add any to food, and check the sodium content of shop-bought foods.
Sleep in total darkness: Many studies have linked prolonged exposure to artificial light at night, as experienced by long-term shift workers, to a higher risk of several cancers, including breast and prostate.

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