One of the most common responses when I tell people the most important things they can do to prevent cancer, based on the scientific evidence, is that the things seem so simple or obvious.
Maintain a healthy weight. Be physically active. Use sunscreen and sun protective clothing when you can’t choose to be in the shade. Practice safe sex to avoid sexually transmitted infections. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Choose to spend time in places free of secondhand smoke. Quit smoking if you smoke.
They do sound like health tips. They aren’t sexy or “hot” or “new” like it would be to talk about plastics, pesticides, lotions and the like. But here’s the thing… while we still have plenty of work to do to explore the role those factors might play in cancer, we KNOW that the things above matter. We know that if we implemented those things and a few others, we could prevent at least HALF of all cancers.
And we know that those attention getting things like hair dye and deodorant that got so much attention a few years back, didn’t turn out to cause cancer when subjected to rigorous research studies.
So while rigorous research studies might show that the hot new sweetener on the market is carcinogenic someday, they haven’t yet. But many rigorous research studies on thousands (sometimes millions) of people have show that those “simple and obvious” things prevent cancer.
Dr. Kate Wolin is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Public Health Sciences & Surgery at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine. She blogs and talks about practical approaches to prevention, wellness and disease management at drkatewolin.com and on Twitter @DrKateWolin.
This is good common sense advice with none of the scare tactics that the media adores – therefore, will not get much coverage, unfortunately.