February is Cancer Prevention Awareness Month, and here’s a cold fact about cancer: Nearly half of all cancer deaths in the United States, of which there were an estimated 606,880 in 2019, could be attributed to preventable causes, such as smoking and poor eating habits.
The first step toward reducing those numbers and overall cancer rates can be taken now, in the cold of February. During Cancer Prevention Awareness Month, there are plenty of mid-winter activities that promote a healthy body. And every inch of the body, from mind to muscle, needs to be healthy to protect itself from cancerous cells.
5 Wintertime Activities Can Reduce Cancer Risks
Cancer prevention does not have to require big lifestyle changes. We can in fact walk, not run, to better health. Here are five building blocks to better overall health that also pair well with winter.
- Learn new plant-rich recipes. If all those hours indoors are being absorbed in front of the screen, then turn on a cooking show. Experiment in the kitchen with fresh vegetables that can be roasted or cooked into a hearty stew. Broccoli, tomatoes and dark leafy greens are rich in cancer-fighting nutrients, as are fresh fruits, grains and beans. Choose leaner meats and limit those that are processed, such as salami and bacon.
- Take up a winter sport. Ice hockey might not be your thing, but what about snow golf? Look for neighborhood activities such as broomball, snow volleyball and even snowball fights, or start your own league. Even a 10-minute walk can invigorate the mind and body. If it’s too brutal to go outside, a few trips up and down the stairs will do the trick.
- Quit smoking. We correlate smoking with lung cancer, but tobacco smoke is also a chief cause of bladder cancer, contributing to more than half of U.S. cases, the American Cancer Society reports. Any time is the right time to quit smoking, but it might be easier in the winter because we tend to spend more time indoors, where smoking is often prohibited.
- Know your body. Just as women perform breast exams each month, men should self-examine their testicles. It’s easy: cup one testicle at a time and feel for lumps, irregularities or a change in size. It’s a legit excuse for extending that hot shower on a cold day.
- Know your family. Ancestry is an affordable, indoor activity. Spend the longer nights recording history with family members, including medical events. If the lineage reveals a pattern of cancer or precancerous conditions, consider taking additional prevention methods with the advice of your doctor.
Lastly, schedule a regular, annual wellness exam with a general practitioner and a urologist. The physicians and staff at The Urology Group diagnose and treat the following cancers:
- Prostate: An estimated 191,930 new cases of prostate cancer are projected to be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2020, making it among the most prevalent. However, it is also among the most treatable, with a five-year survival rate of 99%.
- Bladder: The bladder is exposed to toxins because it stores our urine and everything it contains. A projected 81,400 cases will be diagnosed in 2020, and the five-year survival rate is 77%.
- Kidney: Most of the nearly 73,750 people expected to be diagnosed with this disease in 2020 will be men, and likely older – the average age of diagnosis is 64. If detected early, the five-year survival rate can be as high as 93%.
- Testicular: The average age of a patient diagnosed with testicular cancer is just 33, and it is rare, with 9,610 new cases predicted this year. The five-year survival rate is 95%.
Now here’s a less optimistic number: Only 20% of adults schedule their annual wellness exams, so we see a lot of room for improvement. Let’s make prevention a hot trend amid these colder months.