While no man in the world, no matter how healthy is 100% bulletproof, there are simple things you can do to significantly reduce your risk of developing malignant tumors. Some of these behaviors can reduce risk for certain cancers by as much as 90%! Besides reducing your cancer risk, incidentally, all seven habits mentioned below will improve your feeling of well-being and positively impact your health and relationships in other ways.
Nothing says it better than Michael Pollan’s (bestselling author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma) simple rule about eating:
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.”
The simpler your food, the better it is for you. Packaged food, though often convenient and glamorous in the short run, is actually inconvenient for your body to process and will impact your health negatively in the long run.
Animal based proteins, namely meat, eggs and dairy, in excessive amounts have strong indisputable links to cancer.
The more nutritious food you eat, the less food you need as your body will stop craving constant fulfillment. Be aware though that when you first increase your intake of fruits, nuts and vegetables, you will desire more food, but this soon evens out. Remember too that plant foods contain less calories, generally speaking, especially when prepared simply, than animal-based foods so do not be concerned about gaining excess weight as you transition to upping your intake of antioxidant rich fruits and veggies.
We have shared so many food related tips in past blogs that I needn’t go into more detail on this topic. Remember our great interview with Zimbabwean-based Outspoken, Hip Hop Emcee/Poet on his vegetarian lifestyle? He has a very inspirational and healthy attitude to what he puts in his body.
In addition to being good for heart health, weight loss, bone density, strength and muscle tone, exercise greatly improves your mental state and feelings of well-being. Exercise often releases feel good hormones and neurotransmitters that improve your mood, help you reduce and manage stress or depression and has been linked in studies to reduced cancer risk.
The statistics are clear and indisputable on this one gentlemen. 90% of lung cancer cases are directly the result of smoking. There is just no getting around that, and no further explanation is needed. Additionally, it takes years to clear the damage of even light or occasional smoking, and it is one of the most difficult habits to kick. Clearly, it is better to not even start. Smoking is linked primarily to lung cancer, but has also been implicated in ten other kinds of cancer – including stomach cancer, which is quite high in its occurrence amongst Zimbabweans.
There are many resources online to help you quit. Also, for the sake of your family and friends, declare your home and office (if possible) a smoke-free zone. Forbid smoking indoors, especially around children and pregnant women. Second hand smoke can be just as harmful as directly inhaling.
Drinking is another bad habit and close neighbour of smoking. Even though many Zimbabweans drink to alleviate stress, it actually ends up causing more problems than it helps. In addition to causing liver toxicity, damage to the brain and multiple other organs, alcohol has been linked in studies to cancers of the colon (second most common amongst men), larynx and liver to name but a few.
Although it is not easy to talk about in our culture, there are places you can go to receive help with a drinking problem. Alcoholism is a disease more than a habit, and we need to understand that alcohol does not affect everyone in the same way. Some people are just not able, for reasons of their physiology, to have just one drink. If you are one of these people, help is available from your local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous, and I have included a link to the Zimbabwean chapter below. If you are spiritual or religious, you can seek additional support from your place of worship.
Have Regular Check-Ups
Make sure to have the appropriate check-ups at the required ages for colon and prostate cancer. You can discuss this with your doctor. Men with family history of either cancer are sometimes advised to start having prostate exams and colonoscopies as much as 10 years earlier than the commonly recommended ages.
As with all things, early diagnosis increases the efficacy of your treatment. Also learn how to do testicular self-exams. They are easy, painless and are the manly thing to do.
Go Out In the Sun
We did an extensive blog about the link between sun exposure, vitamin D absorption and cancer, a while back. Revisit it. In addition to making you feel better (depression rates are significantly higher in places with long dark winters), it will increase your levels of vitamin D which is a very critical nutritional component of cancer prevention. Chances are, the more you are outdoors, the more exercise you will enjoy.
Learn to Manage Stress Constructively
It is often tempting for most human beings to think that the best antidote to stress is escapism. While drinking, smoking, endless TV and movie watching, gossiping, facebook mania, overeating and so forth may be the easiest way to unwind for most of us, these activities are not always necessarily the best for us.
While all of these activities have their place, when done in excess they will actually wear on you, stump your intellectual growth and deplete your vitality. More productive ways to manage your stress (and yes there is no getting around the fact that stress is part of being alive) are listed below.
- Spend quality time with friends and family, enjoying a healthy picnic, playing games or sports or just having a good gossip-free conversation.
- Read quality books, magazines or internet articles and learn at least one new thing every day.
- Be creative. There are all kinds of activities that draw upon and expand your creative abilities. These include but are not limited to; crafts, writing, music making, landscaping and dreaming up new business ideas.
- Exercise. Taking a long ambling walk, bike ride or run can be very refreshing and helps you mull over your thoughts.
- Stay spiritually connected – whatever that may mean for you.
- Build a network of positive friends and family who can support you and encourage you through difficult times. If you surround yourself with negative people, they will eventually bring out the worst in you in addition to coming with stress and drama stuck to their heels.
- Give a helping hand. It is easy to become so engrossed in our own problems that we fail to see the big picture. Helping someone in need does not have to be financial. It can be as simple as carrying groceries home for someone elderly or sickly, volunteering consistently at a non-profit or church or as big as adopting another person into your family. The joy it brings to both you and the person it helps is its own reward, and often gives you some perspective – that really much of your stress is created and that your life is actually not that bad.
- Practice being grateful for where your life is right now. Do not fixate on what other people have or what you think you should have done in the past and other factors that you cannot change. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude creates the kind of positive mindset and peaceful emotional existence where change for the better regarding any stressful situation, can actually occur.
So there you have it gents. You are armed with info, no reason not to man up now. Besides, healthy men are way, way more attractive!!
Keep your eyes posted on our blog and upcoming new website in a few weeks as we launch our first worldwide fundraising campaign, ‘Sponsor a Zimbabwean Cancer Patient’.
*Pic sources: ashy2classy.net; dietisthekey.com; elev8.com; agnesbsquared.tumbler; healthyblackmen.org; beautyindustryitrends.wordpress.com