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We already know that exercise, eating plenty of cruciferous vegetables and antioxidant-packed fruits, and abstaining from tobacco are some of the most tried and true ways to lower your risk of cancer. That and staying away from radiation zones and air pollution, of course. But recent research has uncovered several other surprising things that may assist in lowering your cancer risk.
From coffee to breastfeeding, this list will examine some relatively simple things you can do that might have a positive impact on your health. Of course, many of these things need to be further researched; but for the time being, they’re interesting to discuss when it comes to cancer prevention.
Among people who drink alcohol heavily, consuming plenty of caffeine may help reverse the ill effects of booze on your liver. A recent study conducted by scientists from the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF) found that when heavy drinkers also consumed several cups of coffee per day, they reduced their risk of liver cancer.
Alcohol has actually been associated with mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon, and even breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. While scientists aren’t completely sure how coffee battles liver cancer, they believe it might have something to do with lowering liver inflammation — which is one of the factors behind development of liver disease and cancer.
“Both coffee and coffee extracts have also been shown to reduce the expression of genes involved in inflammation, and the effects appear to be most pronounced in the liver,” the authors wrote.
Scientists listed ejaculation as a “modifiable risk factor” for prostate cancer back in 2004, but a newer study discovered even more evidence for this claim. The researchers studied some 32,000 men for 18 years, and found that men who ejaculated at least 21 times a month actually lowered their risk of prostate cancer by 20 percent — compared to those who ejaculated four to seven times a month.
While the notion of fasting is often considered unhealthy especially if you’re trying to lose weight, one recent study out of the University of California, San Diego found that fasting overnight reduced glucose levels — as well as overall risk of breast cancer — among women. In the study, women who ate about five meals each day then fasted for 12 hours every night (generally speaking, stopped eating at 9pm and ate breakfast at 9am) showed lowered glucose levels and fewer consumed calories.
Interestingly, another study out of the University of Southern California found that fasting triggers regeneration among stem cells in the immune system, cleaning out the damaged ones, especially during chemotherapy. While more research is needed on the protective benefits of fasting, you can rest assured that taking about 12 hours to sleep and not eat every night will be beneficial to both managing your weight and protecting your health.
Breastfeeding comes with many benefits for both baby and mother, but perhaps one of the most solid benefits from this natural feeding process is its potential protection against breast cancer. The results “suggest that for nonsmokers, breastfeeding for more than six months not only provides children with numerous health benefits, but it also may protect mothers from breast cancer,” Emilio González-Jiménez, an author of the study, said in the press release.
While these results are encouraging, the American Cancer Society points out that evidence supporting breastfeeding as a cancer protectant remains inconsistent and more data is needed to draw a more substantial conclusion.
Mediterranean Diet & Nuts
The Mediterranean Diet-complete with fresh ingredients like fruits and vegetables, as well as antioxidant-rich foods like olive oil, red wine, fish, and nuts — can help you lose weight, fight obesity and diabetes, and lower your risk of heart disease, among other things. The Mediterranean Diet is considered one of the healthiest ways to eat, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it has been linked to a lower risk of cancer too.
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