Preventing cancer?

Unfortunately, there is no patent remedy for a life without cancer. But with certain strategies and a healthy lifestyle, you can help reduce your personal risk of developing the disease. Almost everyone has probably thought about whether cancer will be an issue in their lives at some point in their lives. The concern is justified, because the diagnosis of cancer affects many people. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly one in two people in Germany will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. The diagnosis is a drastic experience not only for those affected, but usually also for their relatives. But thanks to advances in medicine, many types of cancer can now be treated well and often fought effectively. Early detection plays an important role.

This is demonstrated by the success of colorectal cancer screening: since its introduction, new cases of colorectal cancer have fallen by 60 percent among people who take advantage of the offer. Those who regularly attend the recommended preventive examinations have a health advantage: precancerous lesions can be safely removed, and the earlier colorectal cancer is detected, the greater the chances of a cure. The SBK supports you with various services. In addition, each and every individual can actively contribute to preventing cancer to a certain extent by leading a healthy lifestyle. Numerous studies scientifically support what matters most in this process. An overview of the most important recommendations from cancer research:

Eat healthy

There is no such thing as an effective anti-cancer diet. But those who eat a balanced diet increase their chances of staying healthy longer and reduce their risk not only of cancer but of a host of other diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 30 percent of all cancer cases in Western countries are due to unfavorable dietary and exercise habits and obesity – three aspects that are often difficult to separate from one another.
According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), obesity alone increases the risk of at least 13 cancers, including colorectal cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, gallbladder cancer, uterine cancer and kidney cancer.

But the composition of the diet also plays a role: foods thought to have a protective effect are high-fiber cereals, fruits and vegetables. Red meat and meat products such as sausage, smoked or cured meats are suspected of increasing the risk of cancer.
The damaging effect of alcohol is proven: According to the WHO, its consumption increases the risk of cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx and larynx, esophagus, colon and rectum, liver and breast cancer.

The DGE’s "10 rules" for a healthy diet do not explicitly aim to prevent cancer. Rather, they should generally maintain health and promote well-being and performance. Accordingly, experts recommend eating three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit daily. Plenty of vegetable protein is provided by legumes – such as lentils, chickpeas or beans – and unsalted nuts. Vegetables and fruit provide our organism with valuable vitamins, nutrients and fiber and should be on the menu every day. Traditional Mediterranean cuisine is a good example: less meat and more sea fish on the table. Those who cannot do without meat should prefer light poultry products to red meat from beef and pork. When things have to go fast, many people turn to convenience foods such as frozen pizza. That’s fine now and then, but those who cook fresh know what went into the pot and often save on hidden added sugar, salt or calories.

Tip: If you want to learn more about healthy eating, a health course may be right for you. The SBK subsidizes certified courses. Find information and offers in your area here.

Go easy on sugar and salt

Sugar-sweetened foods and beverages are not directly carcinogenic, but they often lead to obesity. Many convenience foods contain sugar, even if you don’t taste or suspect it. Remember ketchup: a quarter of the bottle consists of pure household sugar.

At Salt the data is clearer: those who regularly consume too much salt have an increased risk of developing stomach cancer. Although studies show that this only applies to very high salt consumption, it is still advisable not to be too wasteful with salt for other reasons as well.

Tip: Use herbs and spices when cooking, so you save salt without sacrificing taste.

Get regular exercise

People who exercise and do sports frequently effectively protect their bodies from many diseases and actually reduce their risk of cancer as well. This has been proven by a large number of international studies. The expert team of the European Code against Cancer Working Group emphasizes: Physical activity can reduce the risk of many cancers and improve the prognosis in case of a disease. Often it is necessary to outwit one’s inner pig dog. Fixed sports appointments, ideally with friends or in a team, help to keep to the set goals. It doesn’t even have to be sweaty sports. An active daily routine also helps: walk or bike more often – this adds zest to your life and reduces stress along the way. If you use public transportation: Get off one stop early, for example, and walk the rest of the way home. Do without elevators – useful in pandemic times anyway – and escalators. Use stair climbing as a short workout. Studies show: Just 30 minutes of physical exertion a day promotes good health. A nice side effect: This makes it easy to maintain a healthy weight. Experts recommend between 7000 and 10 per day.000 steps. That’s quite a lot for people with sedentary jobs – perhaps a pedometer, which is included in many smartphones, will motivate you to reach this goal.

Tip: Charge yourself a free 10.000-step app downloaded from the app store. This will not only track your daily steps, but also activities like jogging and cycling. In addition, other activities, such as gardening, can be registered. Finally, every movement counts for your health.

Give up smoking

It’s never too late to quit smoking. New studies show: Even those who smoked for years benefit from quitting smoking. Then new, healthy cells can be formed, which improve the airways again. Conversely, the figures are frightening. 120 people die each year in Germany alone.000 people suffer from diseases – not only cancer – that can be traced back to tobacco consumption. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as many as eight million people worldwide die from alcohol-related cancers every year. Smoking is considered the cause of more than 20 percent of all cancers in Germany. In particular, the development of lung cancer is due to tobacco use, 90 percent of all lung cancer cases in men and 60 percent in women can be traced back to it. Once diagnosed with cancer, smokers are twice as likely to die from it as non-smokers. If you want to live in a health-conscious way, you should avoid tobacco consumption of any kind.

Tip: There are a number of methods that can help people quit smoking and stick to a smoke-free life. The SBK supports you with different recognized methods and takes over up to 75 per cent of the costs with a maximum amount up to 80 € for courses with qualified offerers. Here you can find offers in your area.

Enjoy alcohol in moderation

Alcohol has been known for its relaxing and anxiety-relieving effects for more than 2000 years. But excessive consumption is the cause of many cardiovascular diseases as well as cancer. According to studies by the German Federal Ministry of Health, 1.6 million people in Germany alone are dependent on alcohol, and almost seven million German citizens drink it in quantities that pose a risk to their health. Those who regularly drink alcohol should critically examine their consumption. Figures from the German Cancer Society are alarming:

Presumably, the risk of cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx and esophagus increases from just one small glass of beer (0.25 l, 10 g alcohol) per day. Breast cancer risk has been shown to increase with three to six glasses of alcohol per week (35-45 g per day). Increased risk of cancer of the larynx, pancreas, and colon and rectum starts at four glasses a day. Experts suggest that about nine out of ten alcohol-related cancers and cancer deaths could be prevented in men and about half in women if alcohol were drunk in the recommended moderations.

Tip: The German Nutrition Society recommends: no more than 10 grams of alcohol for women and 20 grams of alcohol for men per day. 10 grams of alcohol is equivalent to about 0.25 liters of beer, 0.125 liters of wine or a small glass of schnapps. If alcohol is part of your daily routine: the recommended amounts are the maximum limits, less is better, and take regular alcohol-free periods.

Make sure you wear sunscreen

Intensive sunbathing and sunburn are the main causes of skin cancer. Often the diseases appear years later – the skin forgets nothing. Too much UV radiation promotes black skin cancer, malignant melanoma, as well as so-called light or "white" skin cancer. The Arbeitsgemeinschaft Dermatologische Pravention (ADP) warns: sensitive skin types risk sunburn after just 10 to 15 minutes in the sun. This applies especially to light-skinned people and children. Consistent sun protection is indispensable, not only on vacation at the beach, but also when skiing or hiking in the mountains. People who do a lot of work outdoors – for example on construction sites, in agriculture or as gardeners – should also protect themselves from the sun’s rays. The assumption that a tan from a solarium is particularly gentle is often widespread. This is a misconception. A visit to a solarium represents a significant exposure to radiation, from which younger people under the age of 35 suffer the most. Pre-tanning in a solarium before a summer vacation is also not a good idea, because due to the different radiation this does not protect against sunburn. If you want to protect your skin, it is best to choose the highest possible sun protection factor when buying sun protection products – ideally SPF 30 and higher. Whether cream, lotion, gel or spray, it’s up to personal preference. It is important to apply regularly. Even so-called waterproof products lose their effectiveness, both after bathing and through sweating. A mnemonic for proper behavior is provided by the Sun Protection ABC:

  1. Dodge: Avoid the midday sun when it is at its highest. Because then the intensity of the rays is the strongest.
  2. Clothing: Longer clothing as well as hats shield the skin well. Also wear sunglasses with light protection filters.
  3. Creams: Sunscreen is indispensable – the lighter the skin, the higher the sun protection factor should be.

You want to find out how strong the UV radiation is? The UV index (UVI) can be found in many weather reports or on the website of the German Weather Service.

Tip: The SBK already covers skin cancer screening for people under 35 years of age as an additional benefit. Take advantage of our offer!

Go for preventive care

Take advantage of the free preventive health care services offered by the SBK. Preventive health examinations offer the chance to detect possible diseases at an early stage and to be able to treat them quickly. This is especially important for cancer. If, for example, polyps – a precancerous condition – are discovered and removed during a colonoscopy, there is a high probability that colon cancer can be prevented. Skin, breast and prostate cancer can also be detected at an early stage during preventive examinations and, in many cases, can be successfully treated. Discuss with your doctor which examinations come into question and make sense for you.

Tip: As an SBK customer, you benefit at any age from a comprehensive preventive care program that even goes beyond the statutory scope, such as palpation for breast cancer diagnosis. Here you will find all information at a glance.

Situation at the workplace

Work is a central part of our lives, so all professionals should also consider whether they might come into contact with carcinogenic and harmful substances in their working environment. The Cancer Information Service rates the following products as hazardous, among others: Alcohol, asbestos, gasoline/diesel, benzene, estrogens, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), molds, heavy metals, cigarette smoke.

It is not always possible to avoid these risk factors altogether. If you are at risk, pay special attention to protective measures such as respirators.

Tip: You can find out in detail which other toxins and pollutants pose a risk and where they are hidden from view at the information service of the German Cancer Research Institute (dkfz).

Source: Word& Image publisher

Health offers and courses

Stay healthy – with the numerous prevention offers of the SBK.

You can do a lot to stay healthy – for example, with a health course for more exercise or for a healthier diet. In addition, you get at the SBK health trips at favorable conditions or preventive cures. You can find out how we can help you find the right thing for you here.

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