Research has shown that only 5 to 10 percent of all cancer cases are attributable to genetic defects and the remaining 90 to 95 percent of cases are in fact preventable. That means that changes in your diet, exercise, and environment can make a big impact in staving off cancer in the years to come. And the best place to start reducing your risk is in your home.
1. Start In the Kitchen
Your diet makes a huge difference when it comes to your risk of cancer. After all, it’s your daily medicine, three times a day, every day.
A big yet simple first step is to avoid potentially carcinogenic pesticide residues found on conventionally grown produce and choose organic whenever possible. If buying organic across the board is a bit too much for your budget, avoid fruits and vegetables that are the most heavily sprayed with pesticides by avoiding the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list of fruits and vegetables.
-Avoid Processed Foods
Avoid dangerous additives found in processed foods like artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives and unpronounceable mystery ingredients. Avoid canned foods, especially those that contain BPA. Fresh foods, especially cruciferous vegetables, also contain more cancer-fighting phytochemicals.
-Reduce Your Meat Intake
Eating too much meat has also been shown to cause cancer. And processed meats like salami, hot dogs, and bacon were found to be even worse. A recent report from the World Health Organization found that eating less than 2 ounces of processed meat daily increased the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent.
-Ditch the Plastic Containers
Finally, ditch the plastic and eat out of glass and ceramic. Plastic is made with a laundry list of chemicals, many of which are endocrine disruptors that can potentially cause cancer.
-Drink Filtered Water
Avoid toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and endocrine disruptors by filtering your water. Reverse osmosis filtration vastly reduces the number of carcinogens found in your water. Solid block carbon filters also remove the bad stuff.
2. Clean Up Your Personal Care Products
Your beauty cabinet can have a huge impact on your health. After diet, your personal care routine is the next easiest place to reduce your exposure to chemicals found in everyday consumer products. Choose makeup and personal care products like shampoo, conditioner, soap, body lotion, anti-aging products, and deodorant that don’t contain potential carcinogens like parabens, phthalates, and oxybenzone. The easiest way to make sure you’re buying the cleanest products possible is to download EWG’s Skin Deep Guide to cosmetics. Simply bring it with you to the store and run the barcode on your smartphone. The guide will rate the product so you know exactly what you’re getting.
3. Ditch Toxic Cleaning Products and Make Your Own
The chemicals found in cleaning products aren’t heavily regulated so it’s difficult to know exactly what’s in them (the label doesn’t tell the whole story because of ‘proprietary formulas’) and what poisons you’re exposed to when used. Everyday cleaning products may contain the carcinogen1,4-dioxane or even release small levels of the cancer-causing agent, formaldehyde. And when you send these chemicals down the drain, they further pollute our waterways and environment. Even cleaners that claim to be safe may not be. Scrub down your tub with a mixture of half white vinegar and half baking soda. Make an all purpose cleaner with half white vinegar and half water with the addition of 5 drops of lemon essential oil. White vinegar is also great for cleaning mirrors.
4. Use Natural Materials in Your Home
A home filled with natural building materials is best. Choose solid wood floors and furniture instead of cheaper versions made with pressed wood, particleboard, and plywood, which can contain formaldehyde. Additionally, avoid flame retardants by choosing natural and organic mattresses. Flame retardants have been linked to a host of serious health problems like thyroid issues, learning and memory problems, lower IQ, early puberty and even cancer. Avoid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastics found in vinyl flooring, siding, packaging material, door and window frames, wrapping film, hoses, insulation, weather stripping, swimming pool liners, molding, floor mats, carpeting, exercise equipment and more. Short term and long term exposure to PVC, which is made from vinyl chloride, is associated with some serious health issues like liver damage and yes, cancer.
5. Clean the Air
Even if you choose natural building materials and furniture, there could be some hidden toxins off-gassing in your home. That’s why it’s important to keep your air clean. Open up the windows to let in the fresh air, and keep live plants around the house like aloe vera, spider plants, Gerber daisies, and chrysanthemums to help clean the air (and they are beautiful too). Additionally, avoid aerosol sprays and synthetic candles that contain phthalates, another potential carcinogen.
While this list may be intimidating at first, by crossing off one item at a time, you can do a whole lot to reduce you and your family’s risk of cancer.