Cancer causes havoc across the world every year. It takes away many lives and destroys many others in the process.
WebMD reports that in the US, more than 600,000 people die from cancer every year. Many of these cancer deaths take place among teenagers.
According to the American Cancer Society, between 5,000 and 6,000 adolescents in the US are diagnosed with cancer annually. Among them, around 500 to 600 die every year. In this age group, cancer is the fourth leading cause of death.
Of course, like most other diseases, cancer too is preventable. Here are a few ways teens can avoid being diagnosed with cancer.
Healthy Dietary Choices
The foundation of a healthy lifestyle begins with a balanced diet. Teenagers are often known for their love of fast food and sugary snacks. However, making healthier food choices can significantly impact their long-term health.
Incorporating plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats into their diets can provide essential nutrients and antioxidants that help protect cells from damage. Moreover, reducing the consumption of processed foods, sugary drinks, and processed meats can lower the risk of certain types of cancer, including colorectal cancer.
Shielding Against Skin Cancer
Teenagers often revel in outdoor activities. However, prolonged exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays can increase the risk of skin cancer, including deadly melanoma. Promoting sun safety is crucial.
Encourage teenagers to wear protective clothing, such as hats and sunglasses, and apply sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF) when spending time outdoors. It’s also important to educate them about the dangers of tanning beds, as indoor tanning significantly raises the risk of skin cancer. By adopting sun-safe practices early on, teenagers can protect their skin and reduce their likelihood of developing skin cancer in the future.
Consuming Safe Drinking Water
As reported by the Chicago Cancer Center, carcinogens in drinking water can lead to cancer. On top of that, consuming water contaminated by harmful chemicals can also cause cancer. This was something proven in the Camp Lejeune incident.
According to TorHoerman Law, over a million people were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between 1953 and 1987. The water was contaminated by spills from underground storage tanks, waste disposal sites, businesses, and more. Many of the people exposed to this contaminated water were later found to have developed cancer.
A total of 16 diseases and symptoms of Camp Lejeune water contamination have been identified. Among them, there are seven types of cancer alongside other diseases.
Thus comes the need to always use and consume safe water. For that, it’s important to always purify water using proper purification channels. At the same time, local authorities must also look into ways to protect local water bodies from pollution. Otherwise, they could become contaminated and, in turn, contaminate local water supplies.
Leading an Active Lifestyle
Regular physical activity is not only essential for maintaining a healthy weight but also plays a crucial role in cancer prevention. Engaging in an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise daily can help teenagers maintain healthy body weight and reduce the risk of various cancers.
Asking teens to participate in sports, outdoor activities, or even regular walks can establish a lifelong habit of physical fitness. Physical activity not only helps prevent cancer but also fosters overall well-being by boosting mood, reducing stress, and improving cardiovascular health.
Say No to Tobacco
Tobacco use, whether through smoking or vaping, is a significant contributor to various types of cancer, including lung, oral, and throat cancers. UC Davis Medical Center reports that almost half of all cancer deaths take place due to tobacco usage. Teenagers are often curious and susceptible to peer pressure, making it vital to educate them about the dangers of tobacco products.
Ensuring a tobacco-free lifestyle can help prevent them from developing a harmful addiction and significantly reduce their risk of cancer later in life. Providing resources and information about the harmful effects of tobacco can empower teenagers to make informed choices about their health.
Limiting Screen Time
In today’s digital age, teenagers spend a substantial amount of time using electronic devices, from smartphones to computers. However, excessive screen time has been associated with a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy habits that can contribute to cancer risk.
As teenagers limit their screen time and stay physically active, they can maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of obesity-related cancers. Besides, promoting healthy sleep habits by reducing screen time before bedtime can help regulate circadian rhythms, which play a role in cancer prevention.
Seeking Regular Health Check-ups
While prevention is the primary focus, regular health check-ups and screenings are crucial for early cancer detection. Early detection can significantly improve the prognosis of certain cancers, allowing for more effective treatment options. Educate them about the importance of self-examinations for skin changes and the benefits of screenings like mammograms and Pap tests for specific cancers in females.
If you have a teenager at your house or know one in person, encourage them to follow the suggestions pointed out above. As they do so, they can easily reduce the risk of cancer and lead a healthy life.