6 Habits That Help in the Prevention of Cancer

A healthy diet is one of the basic pillars of a healthy life, but it's also key to the prevention of cancer. Being well-nourished maintains the proper functioning of the immune system.
6 Habits That Help in the Prevention of Cancer
Eliana Delgado Villanueva

Written and verified by the nutritionist Eliana Delgado Villanueva.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Experts estimate that a healthy lifestyle could prevent half of all types of cancer. In this article, we’ll show you a list of healthy habits that help in the prevention of cancer, according to science.

Take note of these habits and put them into practice to improve your life and protect your health.

What should we know about cancer?

Cancerous cells attacking the body.
Cancer is a multifactorial disease, which depends on genetics as well as environmental factors.

One of the most talked-about diseases at present is cancer. This is understandable since, according to the estimates of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology (SEOM), more than 200,000 cases of cancer are diagnosed in this country. Also, the World Health Organization (WHO), says that in 2020, about 250,000 people will suffer from cancer in Spain alone.

It’s important to understand that the appearance of some malignant cells in the body is inevitable. However, they don’t become cancer if the body is balanced and we don’t stimulate it with “triggers” that encourage the disease to settle in.

Therefore, acting on the potentially tumorous cells and on those that surround them, which make up the tumorous microenvironment, is fundamental. In the same way, we need to understand and avoid the factors that can contribute to the development of cancer.

According to researchers at the Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, genetic factors are responsible for 5-10% of cancers. At the same time, environmental causes account for about 90% of cases. Therefore, we can conclude that practicing healthy habits could prevent a significant portion of cancers.

Habits that help in the prevention of cancer

When talking about a healthy lifestyle, diet is of vital importance. However, so are physical exercise and keeping stress under control. Let’s take a look at the top tips.

1. Maintain a healthy body weight

Eating healthy aids in the prevention of cancer.
Bad eating habits have been linked to diseases such as obesity or hypertension, which can contribute to cancer.

Maintain a healthy weight throughout your life, as excess weight and obesity increase the risk of cancer and relapse. Experts have linked both to low-grade systemic inflammation characterized by elevated inflammatory cytokines.

Since it produces an alteration of the immune system, experts have linked this condition to the development of diseases.

You may be interested in reading: The Right Diet For People With Cancer

2. Healthy eating and cancer prevention

A healthy diet is a basic pillar of a healthy life. However, it’s also key to the prevention of cancer. Being well-nourished maintains the proper functioning of the immune system.

Studies on the positive effects of eating vegetables and fruits claim that they’re important in the fight against cancer.

Why is this?

It’s because they provide nutrients that help repair damaged cells. Therefore, you should consume at least five servings a day.

Also, we should avoid eating excess amounts of red meat and processed foods. What’s more, we should restrict ourselves to specific times. These suggestions come from the American Institute for Cancer Research.

3. Don’t smoke

One of the most harmful habits for health is smoking. That’s because it causes several diseases, including cancer. The WHO estimates that 22% of cancer deaths have their origin in this bad habit. It’s not easy to quit smoking, but it’s a wise choice that many have a hard time making.

Smoking does much more than just cause cancer deaths. It also causes heart attacks, cardiovascular problems, chronic fatigue, and many more harmful conditions.

4. Physical exercise for cancer prevention

A woman at a gym holding a plastic heart in front of her chest.
Physical exercise provides great benefits to the body. Among these, the prevention of cancer stands out thanks to its effect on the immune system.

Physical exercise is one of the healthiest habits we can incorporate into our lives. Cardiovascular health improves and we burn excess calories. What’s more, exercise also helps prevent many diseases, including cancer. Performing 3 to 5 sessions per week (30-60 minutes) is ideal to notice the health and cancer prevention benefits.

5. Prevent the proliferation of tumor cells

Another interesting fact is that we can create conditions so that tumor cells don’t multiply. One example is to include substances in your diet that aide in cellular repair. For example, there are antioxidants.

Several vegetables have proven to have the greatest inhibitory effect on cancer growth. For example, these include cruciferous vegetables (varieties of cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc), other dark leafy greens, and garlic. This is thanks to the polyphenols that these plants contain.

Carotene-rich fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, persimmons, and apricots contain provitamin A. And, in some cases, they also contain lycopene. Both of these substances inhibit the division of harmful cells.

6. Practice a relaxation technique

Striving to keep stress at bay is key. Among the environmental factors, there are psycho-emotional factors. Due to the poor management of stress, these can trigger the disease process.

Therefore, it’s very important to take up practices that help to improve the management of this state. For example, mindfulness, physical exercise, or increased contact with nature all are very helpful.

The importance of healthy habits

Obviously, among the risk factors for cancer, some are impossible to control. For example, there are also genetics and environmental factors. However, there are still habits that you can follow to help in the prevention of cancer.

We hope that this information has been useful to you and that you take it into account. Remember that following these habits, as well as seeing your doctor regularly and living a healthy life, can help you prevent cancer.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • World Cancer Research Fund International/American Institute for Cancer Research. Continuous Update Project Report: Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Gallbladder Cancer. 2015. Available at http://www.wcrf.org/sites/default/files/Gallbladder-Cancer-2015-Report.pdf
  • Teras LR, Kitahara CM, Birmann BM, et al. Body size and multiple myeloma mortality: a pooled analysis of 20 prospective studies. British Journal of Haematology 2014; 166(5):667-676.
  • Goodwin PJ. Obesity and breast cancer outcomes: How much evidence is needed to change practice? Journal of Clinical Oncology 2016; 34(7):646-648. Epub 2015 Dec 28. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2015.64.7503.
  • Chen Y, Wang X, Wang J, Yan Z, Luo J. Excess body weight and the risk of primary liver cancer: an updated meta-analysis of prospective studies. European Journal of Cancer2012; 48(14):2137-2145.
  • Steinmetz KA, Potter JD. Vegetables, fruit, and cancer prevention: A review. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1996.
  • Red meat (beef, pork, lamb). (). Retrieved from https://www.aicr.org/cancer-prevention/food-facts/red-meat-beef-pork-lamb/
  • Tabaco. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/es/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tobacco

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.