There are a number of reasons why people get cancer. Some cancers are genetic and others environmental. Others still are caused by lifestyle choices. A recent study discovered four common lifestyle factors might be responsible for one-third of all cancers. Meaning simple behavior changes could be life-saving.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that tobacco causes cancer. Tobacco use is responsible for nearly 1 in 5 deaths in the United States. Because tobacco use is an acquired behavior and something people actively choose to do, smoking is considered the most preventable cause of death in our society.
One-third of all cancer deaths in the United States each year are linked to diet and physical activity. Carrying excess body fat increases the risk of seven cancers. Vegetables and fruits are low in calories, which help us get to and stay a healthy weight. Whole grains and beans are rich in fiber and moderate in calories, which also help in weight management efforts. Conversely, processed and fried foods eaten in excess are known to cause cancer.
Alcohol raises the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, breast, and the colon and rectum. People who drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits. The combination of alcohol and tobacco increases the risk of some cancers far more than the effect of either drinking or smoking alone.
According to an American Cancer Society study, as many as 90,000 cancer deaths each year could be prevented if Americans had better maintained a normal, healthy body weight. Obesity causes the body to produce more of the hormones estrogen and insulin which, under the right circumstances, are critical for our health. But when someone is obese, and these hormones are too high, they actually stimulate the growth of cancer cells.
What’s the moral of the story? More than 33 percent of cancers could be prevented if we all quit smoking, ate a healthier diet, limited alcohol consumption and maintained a healthy weight. If any of the above cancer risk apply to you, please do everything in your power to lower your risk. If you have or have had cancer, this doesn’t mean life insurance is out of reach. Talk to your insurance broker about which term life insurance company is best for you.