There are many habits that we engage in on a daily basis that could lead to cancer. While not all of these habits will cause cancer, it is important to be aware of them so that you can take the necessary precautions.
Experts and doctors have identified a number of different habits that could increase your risk of developing cancer, and we will discuss some of them in this article. By becoming aware of these risks, you can take steps to avoid them and reduce your chances of getting cancer.
Habits That Could Lead to Cancer
For many people, the words “cancer” and “habit” are not usually thought of in the same sentence. However, there are a few habits that could lead to cancer if they are not changed.
#1 – Soaking up the sun
We all know that spending too much time in the sun can lead to skin cancer, but did you know that it can also increase your risk of other types of cancer?
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is a major risk factor for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. UV radiation can also cause non-melanoma skin cancer.
People who get sunburned, especially as children or teenagers, have an increased risk of melanoma later in life. Melanoma can also be caused by indoor tanning.
So, how can you protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun? The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that everyone use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, wear protective clothing, and limit their time in the sun.
You should also avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. If you must be in the sun, make sure to reapply your sunscreen every two hours and after swimming or sweating.
In addition to skin cancer, the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays can also cause other types of cancer, including melanoma of the eye, ocular adnexal tumors, and squamous cell carcinomas.
#2 – Tobacco and smoking
Tobacco use is the leading cause of cancer and death from cancer. Cigarette smoking alone causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States, including about 41,000 deaths from secondhand smoke exposure.
Cigars, pipes, and hookahs also put people at risk for cancer. Chewing tobacco and snuff also increases the risk of cancer, especially in the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas.
The risks from secondhand smoke are well-documented too – exposure to secondhand smoke causes an estimated 41,000 deaths each year.
If you currently smoke tobacco products or use any type of nicotine product, now is the time to quit. Talk to your doctor about ways to help you quit and stay tobacco-free for good.
#3 – Skipping your mammogram or colonoscopy screenings
Cancer screening tests can find cancer early when it’s more likely to be treated successfully.
The USPSTF recommends that women aged 50 to 74 years old get a mammogram every two years.
They also recommend that men and women 50 years and older at average risk for colorectal cancer get screened using any of the following tests:
- a high-sensitivity fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year,
- a sigmoidoscopy every five years, or
- a colonoscopy every ten years.
If you’re due for a screening test, make an appointment with your doctor.
And if you have a family history of cancer or other risk factors, you may need to start screening tests earlier or get them more often.
Skipping screenings can lead to finding cancer at a later stage when it’s harder to treat.
For example, the survival rate for breast cancer that’s detected early is 99 percent, but it falls to 26 percent when cancer has spread.
So don’t wait.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor today.
#4 – Heavy drinking
We all like to let loose and have a few drinks every now and then, but did you know that heavy drinking can lead to cancer?
According to the National Cancer Institute, alcohol is linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and breast.
The more you drink, the greater your risk.
So if you’re planning on having a few drinks, be sure to do so in moderation.
#5 – Ignoring household dangers
There are many things in our homes that can be dangerous, but we often overlook them.
For example, did you know that formaldehyde, a common chemical found in household products like cleaners and pressed-wood furniture, is classified as a human carcinogen?
So when you’re using household products, be sure to read the labels and take the necessary precautions.
And if you’re ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or a trusted expert.
#6 – Avoiding the big ‘C’ and other awkward tests
It’s important to get screened for cancer, but many people avoid it because it can be uncomfortable or embarrassing.
But the best way to catch cancer early is to get screened on a regular basis.
So if you’re due for a screening, don’t put it off any longer.
Your health is worth it.
#7 – Taking a pass on oral hygiene
It’s no secret that good oral hygiene is important.
But did you know that poor oral hygiene can lead to cancer?
That’s right, brushing and flossing your teeth on a regular basis can help reduce your risk of developing cancer.
So next time you’re tempted to skip your nightly brushing, remember that it could be doing more harm than good.
#8 – Overindulging
Overindulgence in guilty-pleasure foods can be a problem because it can lead to obesity, which can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, all of which are risk factors for cancer.
So if you’re looking to improve your health, it’s important to moderate your intake of unhealthy foods.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to completely deprive yourself – just be mindful of how much you’re eating and make sure to enjoy everything in moderation.
While developing cancer is certainly not a guarantee if you partake in any of the activities above, it’s important to be mindful of the risks they pose and take measures to reduce your chances of getting cancer.
We hope this article has helped increase your awareness about some of the habits that could lead to cancer and we encourage you to do more research on the topic so that you can make informed decisions about your health.
What are some other bad habits that people often don’t realize can lead to cancer? Let us know in the comments!