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5 Common Causes of Cancer & How to Prevent Them

Cancer is a disease caused by DNA mutations or changes within the body’s cells. The DNA within each cell is packed into a large number of genes, each of which contains instructions for the functions the cell is responsible for.

These genes also dictate how the cells grow and divide. DNA mutations can lead to errors in the instructions, causing the cells to stop their normal functions and become cancerous.

Many years of research and study have brought doctors to believe that certain factors can increase your risk of developing cancer. Here are 5 common causes:

Your Age

While cancer can be diagnosed at any age, your risk of developing the disease increases as you age. Most patients diagnosed with cancer are usually 65 or older.

Your Habits

Lifestyle choices like smoking too much, drinking beyond a limit (more than one drink for people above the age of 65 and two drinks for people under 65 years of age), obesity, frequent blistering sunburns or excessive exposure to the sun, and having unsafe sex can increase your chances of developing cancer.

Your Family History

Some types of cancers can be passed on within the family. If a particular type of cancer is common in your family, the genetic mutations can be passed onto the next generation. Technology has made it relatively easier to see if you’ve inherited mutations that put you at risk of certain cancers via genetic testing.

Your Health Conditions

Chronic health conditions like ulcerative colitis can increase your risk of developing cancer.

Your Environment

The environment you live in can have a great impact on your health. Harmful chemicals, second hand smoke, or chemicals in your workplace (asbestos or benzene) that can increase your risk of cancer.

While there is no certain way of preventing cancer, here a few things you can do to reduce your risk of developing cancer:

Stop smoking: Smoking is linked to several types of cancer (not just lung cancer). Quitting can help reduce your risk of getting cancer in the future.

Stay out of the sun: Avoid excessive sun exposure and harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays since they can increase your risk of skin cancer. Stay in the shade and wear sunscreen.

Eat a healthy and balanced diet: Make sure your diet is rich in fiber and proteins from fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins.