What can I do?

The European Code Against Cancer describes certain ways in which you can reduce the risk of cancer. Use these now to check your personal cancer risk:

1. I eat healthily.

I avoid calorie-rich foods and drinks.
These include calorie-rich (225-275 kcal per 100 g) foods with a high fat and sugar content and/or low fibre content as well as drinks with a high sugar content such as cola and lemonades.

I eat cereals, fruit, vegetables and pulses.
Five portions of fruit or (non-starchy) vegetables a day are recommended. In addition, largely untreated cereals or pulses should be consumed with every meal.

I avoid unhealthy kinds of meat.
We recommend eating less than 500 g of red meat per week. This includes pork, beef, lamb or goat meat. The meat should be processed as little as possible; this means no smoked, dried or salted meat, and no added chemical preservatives.

I do not eat much heavily salted food.
The guideline here is that food with more than 1.5 g salt/100 g (and drinks with more than 0.75 g/100 mL) is considered heavily salted. We recommend not consuming more than 5-6 g/salt per day.

2. I understand the importance of having a healthy body weight and I exercise regularly.

There are clear indications that an increase in weight, being overweight and obesity significantly increase the risk of developing certain kinds of cancer. Your body weight should therefore lie within a healthy range of the Body Mass Index (BMI).
Furthermore, moderate physical activity is recommended for at least 150 minutes each week, or intensive physical activity for at least 75 minutes a week. Sedentary activities should be avoided.

3. I drink as little alcohol as possible.
Alcohol in any amount increases the risk of cancer. This means that the more alcohol you drink, the higher the risk of developing cancer. Reducing your alcohol consumption, or even avoiding it completely, helps lower your risk of developing cancer.

4. I do not smoke.
Tobacco is the main cause of cancer. The most harmful form of tobacco consumption is smoking; more than half of all long-term smokers die from the consequences of their cigarette consumption. Passive smoking also increases the risk of cancer.

5. I avoid excessive sunlight.
The invisible ultraviolet (UV) radiation in natural sunlight and from solariums causes skin damage that can lead to skin cancer in the long run.

6. I take precautions in the form of vaccinations.
Almost one fifth of all cancers worldwide, e.g. cervical cancer, hepatic cancer and gastric cancer, are caused by infectious agents such as viruses and bacteria. Some of these infections can best be prevented through vaccinations.

7. I take part in existing early-detection cancer programmes.
Some kinds of cancer can be detected and treated before any symptoms appear. Examining symptom-free people for cancer or conditions that can lead to cancer is called an early-detection test or screening. The main aim of these examinations is to avoid preventable deaths from cancer. Additionally, less harmful or stressful therapies can be applied if cancer is detected early enough through these examinations. Screening can in fact prevent the development of certain types of cancer such as cervical and gastric cancer.

Source: International Agency for Research on Cancer

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