According to the World Health Organization, in 2018:

  • More than 18 million cases of cancer were diagnosed worldwide
  • More than 9.5 million people died of cancer
  • The most common forms of the disease were lung cancer (11.6%), breast cancer (11.6%) and colorectum cancer (10.2%)

Cancer is unfortunately something that every single person is susceptible to, but there are certain risk factors which can increase the likelihood of different cancers developing.

Some of these are out of our control. For example, gender, age and ethnicity can play a role, when it comes to certain cancers developing.

Other risk factors, however, are within the individual’s control and making positive lifestyle choices can reduce the chance of getting cancer.

10 Lifestyle Choices Which Could Reduce the Risk of Cancer

Although there is no guarantee, avoiding certain harmful practices or making healthier life choices may prevent cancer from developing in the first place.

1. Healthy Diet

We all know that maintaining a healthy diet is good for us and that there are numerous benefits that come from eating well.

Unfortunately, head into a grocery store today and the shelves are likely to be stocked with all sorts of processed foods that are not that good for us.

One study in recent times showed that people who eat a diet containing refined carbs are twice as likely to develop cancer as well as other conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

2. Avoid Smoking

Smoking is responsible for most cases of lung cancer and its damaging effects have been known for many years now. The toxins contained in tobacco smoke not only negatively impact the immune system but can also change individual cell DNA.

People who smoke are not the only ones at risk. Those who are exposed long-term to second-hand smoke are also more likely to develop conditions such as lung cancer.

3. Exercise

Man and a woman running

We know that regular exercise is important if we want to stay healthy. This is even more important in an age where many of us have sedentary jobs where we are sat at a desk all day.

Performing regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, boost the immune system and is linked to reducing the risk of no less than 13 different types of cancer.

4. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Obesity is on the increase, particularly in many Western cultures, including the USA and several European nations. According to the American Cancer Society, being overweight accounts for some 7% of all cancer deaths in the US.

There have been direct links found between excess weight and the incidence of breast cancer as well as liver and colon and rectal cancer.

5. Limit Alcohol Intake

Many of us like a tipple now and again. Excessive alcohol, however, is a risk factor in the development of certain types of cancer, particularly of the mouth, throat, liver and colon. In women, research has also shown alcohol to be a significant risk factor for breast cancer.

6. Avoid Exposure to Dangerous Toxins

Many different toxins are present in daily life and these can increase the risk of developing cancer. Construction workers who are exposed to asbestos, for example, are at high risk of lung conditions that can be life-threatening.

Even some readily available household products such as detergents and cleaners could have a damaging effect.

7. Quality Sleep

There is evidence to suggest that not getting enough quality sleep is could increase the risk of cancer. Too much sleep can also be a risk factor, however. Recent research found that prolonged sleep duration increased the potential for individuals to develop colorectal cancer.

The research in this area is controversial when it comes to cancer risk and there is much we don’t understand. But there is no doubt that a good night’s sleep is important for individual health.

8. Vitamins


Vitamins and minerals are essential to maintaining a healthy mind and body. Those that eat a well-balanced, healthy diet should get all the basic nutrients that they need. If someone is lacking or deficient in a certain vitamin, making dietary changes or taking supplements can help.

9. Avoid Risky Behaviors

Certain risky behaviors raise the risk of developing cancer. In particular, sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and HPV as well as the various hepatitis viruses which can also be spread through dirty needles all can have an impact.

10. Sunlight Protection

Sunlight is good for keeping our vitamin D levels up which is good for the immune system. However, prolonged exposure to UV rays and not using sunscreen can increase the risk of developing skin cancer.

Can Cancer Be Prevented?

Is it possible to prevent cancer? The simple answer is no. If people make healthier lifestyle choices and avoid potentially harmful behaviors, however, there is strong evidence that suggests we can decrease our risk.

Indeed, research at Harvard University has suggested that between 30% and 70% of cancers could be mitigated by following certain good practices related to health and wellness.

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