Many risk factors for cancer are widely known. You are probably already aware of the dangers of asbestos, sunlight, and tobacco. But a couple of the following on this list might surprise you, if only at how common they are.
1. Don’t Paint it Black. Over-cooking your food may not seem like such a big deal, but it can actually be something that can aggravate certain types of cancer. Aside from destroying many of the important nutrients by cooking food for too long, studies show that high-temperature cooking can lead to cancers such as the colo-rectal variety. If it’s safety you’re worried about, try buying higher quality, organic and/or farm-grown foods – this should help you avoid having to over-cook.
2. Use the Glass Ceiling. Well, the glass everything, really. A number of studies have shown quite conclusively that even at low levels, Bisphenol A (aka BPA, found in common plastics) can cause DNA damage and the development of precancerous lesions in the prostate glands of rats. Try to not even store your food or drinks in plastic, let alone buy them that way. Just imagine that no plastic, at any time, should go anywhere near your food.
3. Colour Yourself Natural. There isn’t conclusive proof yet, but it’s been said to be ‘probable’ that certain hair dyes, chemicals and pigments are carcinogenic. Erring on the side of caution, ask your hairdresser what they are using, and try to opt for the more natural choices when available. And better yet, allow yourself to go natural a few months of the year if you can – you just might start a trend!
4. Do Drink the Kool-Aid. Studies show that drinking more than one alcoholic drink per day increases your risk of developing breast cancer or liver cancer. In fact, heavy drinkers (three or more drinks per day) have more than five times the chance of developing liver cancer than do light drinkers (up to one drink per day). So cut back, or get help – there’s no shame in avoiding the ‘The Big C’.
5. Shift into Neutral. Studies are now showing that those who work shift work, e.g. flight attendants and nurses, are at higher risk for developing cancer. The reason? Sleeping during the times you should really be awake affects your circadian rhythm, which in humans governs the appropriate release of hormones and also governs the control of temperature in our bodies. Disrupt this natural cycle and you run the risk of damaging important genes, which in turn leads to the development of certain types of cancer, although scientists are still not sure how. Stuck in the cycle? Ask to be transferred to day shift only, or at the very least, bide your time until you find a job that can give you the hours you need. And give acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine a try – it can help create the balance that your body will desperately need.
By Richard Lobbenberg, BSc BHSc DAc