Dr. David Agus, an oncologist at the University of Southern California, wrote a book, The End of Illness, which offers lifestyle changes that may help prevent cancer. This article will review ten of his suggestions.
1. Keep a predictable schedule. Try to eat, sleep and exercise about the same time every day including weekends. Regularity of sleep is more important than total hours slept.
2. Move frequently and avoid prolonged sitting. Sitting for long periods of time is linked to a higher risk of early death and many diseases. You should try to aim for one hour of moderate exercise a day. If you have a sedentary job you can lift small weights, 2.5 pounds, at your desk or while talking on the phone using a headset. You will learn the definition of multitasking when talking and exercising at the same time.
3. Stop using vitamins and supplements. Unless you have a documented vitamin deficiency or are pregnant, you can ditch the dozens of vitamins and supplements that so many Americans use every day. Many well controlled studies have pointed out that vitamins have no benefit and even may be harmful. For example, vitamin E raises the risk of prostate cancer by 17 percent in healthy men. (Study from Journal of American Medical Association in 2011)
4. Get an annual flu shot. Getting the flu is a stress on the immune system. Getting a flu shot helps dampen the harsh immune response if you get the flu.
5. Discuss use of daily aspirin with your doctor. Low dose aspirin or one baby aspirin a day reduces the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and even some cancers.
6. Wear comfortable shoes. High heel shoes contribute to poor posture and back pain. Also comfortable shoes will help you move and walk more and longer distances.
7. Conduct a medications inventory. At least once a year go over your medication list with your doctor and find out which ones may cause side effects or drug-drug interactions and which ones are no longer necessary. As a whole we are an over-medicated society and you can often decrease your medications with a discussion with your doctor.
8. Check out healthy lifestyle incentives. Your employer may reduce your health insurance premiums if you commit to a smoking cessation program. Some employers are paying some or all of the cost of a gym membership.
9. Look to your doctor as a partner. Ask your doctor what he\she is doing to stay current on the latest medical advances. Ask how many hours of continuing medical education they receive each year (minimum is 20 hours). Feel comfortable talking to your doctor about any topic. If you can’t, find a new doctor.
10. Keep your own medical records. Keep a copy of your lab tests, x-ray reports, and any hospital discharge summaries. Your physician will make this available to you at no cost. Now if you go to another doctor or are in another city and need medical care, you have that information available which will help provide continuity of medical care. Savvy patients are storing this data online which means less paper and instant access on a 24\7\365 basis.
Bottom Line: Very little can be done to change your genetic predisposition to cancer or to change the toxins in the air or water. But there’s a lot you can do with practicing healthy lifestyles, exercising regularly, and being proactive about your medical care by developing a partnership with your doctor.