Lifestyle can play a big part in helping prevent cancer. Follow these tips to increase your chances of staying healthy.

Cancer is becoming more common and according to The Cancer Atlas , breast, cervical and prostate cancers are the most frequently diagnosed in Africa, so it’s crucial that you make healthy living a priority to avoid being diagnosed with this disease. Even though there is no guarantee that you can prevent such a diagnosis, being health-conscious can only work in your favour.

Scientists worldwide have been researching what each of us can do to help our bodies along, and the Harvard School of Public Health came up with what they call The 10 Commandments of Cancer Prevention. These include:

  1. Avoid tobacco in all its forms, including exposure to second-hand smoke.
  2. Eat properly. Reduce your consumption of saturated fat and red meat, which may increase your risk of getting colon cancer and a more aggressive form of prostate cancer. Increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  3. Exercise regularly. Physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of contracting colon cancer. Exercise also appears to reduce a woman’s risk of contracting breast and possibly reproductive cancers. Exercise will help protect you even if you don’t lose weight.
  4. Stay lean. Obesity increases your risk of contracting many forms of cancer.
  5. Limit your alcohol consumption.
  6. Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation.
  7. Avoid infections that contribute to cancer. These include hepatitis viruses, HIV and the human papillomavirus. Many are transmitted sexually or through contaminated needles.
  8. Avoid exposure to industrial and environmental toxins such as asbestos fibres, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
  9. Make quality sleep a priority.
  10. Get enough vitamin D. Many experts now recommend 800 to 1 000 IU (international units) per day, a goal that’s nearly impossible to attain without taking a supplement. Although protection is far from proven, evidence suggests that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer and other malignancies.

According to The Cancer Atlas , studies in Africa show that infections are the main cause for most cancers. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the biggest contributors and is the leading cause of cancer death in women in less developed countries. Fortunately, the HPV vaccine is now readily available and is covered by Liberty Health Cover, for girls between the age of nine and 18 years. It is important to get vaccinated before exposure to HPV.

Early cancer detection is always a win

Another way to stay alert is to look out for any signs or symptoms from the CAUTION acronym. Developed by the American Cancer Society , this acronym will help you pick up on anything that needs to get tested, so that you can detect any problems early to increase your chance of a better health outcome.

  • C Change in bowel or bladder habits
  • A A sore that does not heal
  • U Unusual bleeding or discharge
  • T Thickening or a lump in the breast or elsewhere
  • I Indigestion or difficulty swallowing
  • O Obvious change in a wart or a mole
  • N Nagging cough or hoarseness

If you notice any of these symptoms, please consult your doctor as soon as you can. According to The Cancer Atlas, early detection improves survival and saves lives.