Lifestyle Risk Factors

Many of the factors potentially influencing your chance of developing cancer are a product of your lifestyle and your personal choices. This means that you have some control over your exposure to these factors. Therefore, you have the power to minimize the effects of these elements, and maximize your chance of keeping your good health and living a long and happy life.

These risk factors include:

Tobacco - Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in America - including many different kinds of cancer - leading to approximately 443,000 deaths annually. This includes an estimated 49,000 deaths per year due to second-hand smoke exposure. Lung cancer causes the most cancer-related deaths of both men and women in America every year, and smoking causes 80% to 90% of those lung-cancer deaths. Cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, pancreas, kidney, bladder, and cervix are also caused by smoking.

Alcohol - Research shows that heavy or regular consumption of alcohol can increase the risk of developing certain cancers. Consistent alcohol consumption weakens your body's mechanisms for absorbing certain nutrients through your digestion process that may help minimize cancer risk. Many people know that alcohol consumption has been identified as a primary cause of liver cancer, but you may be surprised to learn that it is also a confirmed risk factor for esophageal cancer, colorectal cancer, and cancers of the mouth, throat, and larynx. Even breast cancer has been linked to ongoing or heavy usage of alcohol.

Diet - The foods that you choose to eat on a regular basis can also be risk factors for developing some kinds of cancer. A diet rich in red meats or processed meats - like ham, bacon, or salami - can increase your chances of developing pancreatic cancer, bowel cancer, and even stomach cancer. If you eat food high in fats, proteins, and calories, this may also affect your body's ability to function in the most efficient and healthy manner, increasing your risk for developing cancer. Diets high in saturated fat have also now been linked to the development of breast cancer.

Obesity - Having an abnormally high percentage of body fat is a cancer risk factor. Obesity, like some other cancer risk factors, damages the natural defense mechanisms of the human body, and therefore increases the chances of development for different kinds of cancer. Cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, colon and rectum, breast, kidney, thyroid, and gallbladder have all been linked to obesity.