Can we prevent cancer through eco consumption!
Good lifestyle and eco-consumption can limit exposure to factors that promote cancer. Our advices.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can prevent between 30% and 50% of cancers. And if eco-consumption helped to achieve this goal? Of course, eco-consume is not a miracle shield. Cancer often has several causes and remains responsible for the deaths of nearly one in six people worldwide.
But some habits can limit exposure to factors that promote cancer, while decreasing the ecological footprint. You can kill two birds with one stone by changing your habits. Each of these is listed in the following order: proven, possible, and then unproven, according to the ranking established by the International Agency for Research Against Cancer (IARC).
Diet plays a role in 10 to 70% of cancer deaths, according to the Cancer Foundation.
Alcohol: in moderation
Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, stomach, liver, breast (in women) and colorectal cancer.
TIP : Do not consume more than one (for women), or two (for men) alcoholic beverages per day.
This “moderate” consumption would even be beneficial … for cardiovascular diseases.
That said, lower consumption (less than one drink per day) may increase despite the risk of some cancers, according to other studies.
Knowing that less than one drink a day, it still represents a few drinks a week. We are far from the Mineral Tour.
Barbecue: cook meat gently and be generous on vegetables
In addition to consuming red meat, barbecuing can produce carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). This happens when the meat is overcooked, or when fat is ignited on the embers and burns the meat.
TIP : Wait until the embers are very white and marinate the meat to reduce the development of carcinogenic compounds during cooking. And we eat a lot of vegetables: they contain antioxidants that are protective factors against certain cancers.
Food supplements: punctually and in limited quantities
It is sometimes tempting to take supplements to stay healthy, to fill any deficiencies (including vitamins), etc. Some even put forward their supposed protective effects against cancers.
WARNING: Several studies show an increased risk of developing certain cancers after taking multivitamin supplements and / or antioxidants in large quantities.
TIP : The best protection is a varied diet, rich in vegetables (organic and local, of course). Taking supplements should be punctual and not a substitute for a balanced diet. If you take a long time or in quantity, you seek the advice of a doctor, even if the supplements are not subject to prescription.
Meat: eat less red meat and sausages
Too much consumption of red meat (all meats except poultry) and cold cuts (all that is smoked, salted, with preservatives …) increases the risk of colon cancer. There is less certainty about other types of cancers such as the stomach, esophagus, lung, pancreas and uterus.
TIP : consume less than 300 to 500 g of red or prepared meat a week, or 43 to 71 g per day. However, we currently consume too much: 110 g per day.
Asbestos: remove if damaged, using proper precautions
Asbestos can cause cancers of the lung, pleura, larynx and ovaries.
The use of products containing asbestos has been banned since 1998 in Belgium, but many materials or objects used before that date still live in houses. Asbestos cement (Eternit slates, corrugated sheets, wall panels, etc.) does not pose a great risk, as long as it is not damaged. Friable asbestos (flocking, insulation, old kitchen gloves …) is very dangerous because the fibers are dispersed in the air.
TIP : do not drill, cut when working and do not dab with asbestos-cement pressure washer. Neither touch the friable asbestos.
Radon: check if you live in a risk area and ventilate the cellar
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in Belgium, just behind the cigarette. It is a radioactive gas naturally present in the basement, particularly in the Ardennes, in the Verviers-Bastogne-Neufchâteau crescent.
TIP : Ventilation in the cellar is usually sufficient to keep the radon concentration at a non-problematic level (less than 100 Bq / m³). If you are in a risk zone, it is advisable to measure the radon concentration to check if an intervention is necessary.
Domestic pollution: limiting VOCs:
Indoor air is generally more polluted than outside air. In particular: VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that end up in the air we breathe. Among the most common are benzene and formaldehyde, both classified as known carcinogens.
Benzene can promote leukemia.It is found in the indoor air including via:
- activities where there is combustion: smoking, starting a car in a garage that communicates with the house, cooking food, heating (non-electric), use of candles and incense …
- some materials of arrangement and do-it-yourself: furniture and floor covering plasticized or varnished for example, solvents, glues, paints …
Formaldehyde, which can promote leukemia and nasopharyngeal cancer is found in indoor air, particularly via:
- various building materials and furnishings: furniture in chipboard, solvent varnishes and glues, resins, flooring (synthetic carpet, laminate flooring …) and wall …
- cleaning products and biocides: disinfectants, deodorants, insecticides, fungicides…
To improve the indoor air quality, air 10 minutes, twice a day. This is sufficient to decrease the concentration of most VOCs. It also avoids smoking indoors, using pesticides or burning too many candles (scented or not). Finally, we can choose and use certain products, such as organic solvents , paints and floor coverings , chimneys , cleaning products…
Diesel engine exhaust: avoid fine particles
Emissions from diesel engines are recognized as carcinogenic by the WHO, in particular because of fine particles. More than 8,000 premature deaths are due each year to fine particles in Belgium. Their microscopic size allows them to penetrate deep into the lungs.
In addition to increasing the risk of cancer in the long term, diesel particles increase susceptibility to diseases of the respiratory tract (bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, respiratory problems) and can deteriorate lung function.
TIP : To improve air quality and limit too much pollutant concentration, several cities set up “Low Emission Zones”, where pollutants are banned. This will be the case in Brussels from January 2018 . The citizen can also limit his emissions of fine particles.
Sedentary and overweight: learn about optimal weight, eat well and move around fairly
Overweight and obesity disrupt certain mechanisms of the body (hormones in particular). They have a link with the cancer of the large intestine. They also increase the risk of cancer of the breast, pancreas, uterus, liver, kidneys, certain cancers of the esophagus …
A good resolution: maintain a healthy weight in adulthood. Two main parameters are taken into account: body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference.
Here is a short video that explains these settings and shows how to calculate them .
TIPS : To avoid overweight, we eat well. We swap sodas, too rich snacks and junk food against 5 servings (600 g) of fruits and vegetables a day. We also move a maximum with, in general :
- a minimum of 30 minutes of brisk walk or sport per day
- or 30 minutes of intensive sport, 3 times a week
You can also take some habits that allow you to exercise even if you do not have time to play sports (and which, in addition to save energy!):
- at home: swapping the computer and TV for a walk, mowing the lawn with a manual mower rather than an automatic …
- at the office: fill a jug of water and place it a little apart to have to get up as soon as his glass is empty, enjoy his break for a short walk …
- on the move: take the stairs, get off at a bus stop earlier, get around by bike …
Sun: well protect yourself
We need sun, to produce vitamin D for example. He is a friend … as long as we avoid abuses. UV rays, including those from the sun, are carcinogenic to humans. They can cause different skin cancers: melanoma, carcinoma …
TIP : To reduce risks, we respect a few simple rules: use a good sunscreen, expose yourself outside the hottest hours, wear a hat and sunglasses, avoid sunbeds …
Tobacco: do not smoke or expose yourself to passive smoking
We know that smoking is bad for your health. Smoking is even the leading preventable cause of cancer. It is related to cancer of the lungs, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, stomach …
TIP : According to WHO, to reduce risks, avoid:
- tobacco with smoke (cigarettes …);
- smokeless tobacco (chewing or snuffing);
- passive smoking.
The e-cigarette presents less health risks than the conventional cigarette because it is without combustion.
GSM and wifi antennas: turn off the wifi at night or use a wired connection
There is “no scientific evidence of increased cancer risk from exposure to GSM antennas or wifi,” according to the Cancer Foundation.
Nevertheless, this risk is classified as “possible” by IARC. GSM antennas are subject to special safety measures: the Belgian standard is four times lower than the international recommendations. But wireless networks are multiplying in homes, schools, offices, public spaces … and this daily exposure requires more studies.
Among the electromagnetic waves, the extremely low frequencies raise questions. Inside, they are emitted by electrical installations, lamps, household appliances, radioréveil, computer … Exposure to these frequencies is still insufficiently documented, but some studies indicate links with the occurrence of childhood leukemias.
TIPS for reducing risks:
- We turn off the wifi when we do not use it, especially when we sleep. It’s an easy precaution to implement! Or we opt for a wired connection.
- If you are electro sensitive or worried about electromagnetic waves, you can also install a bioruptor. We place this small device the size of a circuit breaker in the electrical panel. It “disconnects” the current on an unused circuit and restores it when a device draws power. Exit the electromagnetic radiation of the circuit when no electrical device works on it. Its cost is about 150 € (per device and therefore per circuit on which we want to install it).
Use of GSM or smartphone: with headset and in areas of good reception
Intensive use (more than 30 minutes a day) of a smartphone or smartphone stuck to the ear could increase the risk of brain cancer (glioma).
TIPS for limiting risks:
- Communications are shortened and reduced, especially in areas of poor communication.
- An earpiece is used if you have to call a lot or a long time, so that the device is away from your head.
- Do not leave the device near sensitive areas such as genitals or belly for pregnant women.
Additives: buy organic to avoid them
There can be very many additives in prepared foods: preservatives, sweeteners, flavor enhancers, dyes …
All of these additives are framed by standards, which are supposed to exclude – or at least limit – adverse health effects (including cancer). But they are defined substance by substance. They therefore do not take into account a possible combined effect of several additives. The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) is conducting research on this subject which needs to be better studied.
While accepted doses in the diet are expected to prevent carcinogenic effects , some additives such as caramels E150c and E150d contain carcinogenic compounds that California has regulated more strictly than Europe.
TIPS : it limits its consumption of additives. For example :
- We cook ourselves from basic ingredients, little processed. Thus, we are certain of what makes up his plate.
- We look at the list of ingredients and we avoid those in red in this list .
- We buy organic products. A whole series of additives are prohibited in organic labeled products: artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners, flavor enhancers. In addition, these foods are grown without pesticides. Useful because more than half of the fruits and vegetables sold in Belgium contain pesticide residues.
Hot drinks: do not drink too hot
The consumption of very hot beverages is classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by WHO.It is therefore the temperature which is the cause and not the drink itself.
TIP : do not drink too hot. Note that “very hot” corresponds to a temperature of more than 65 ° C. This should be undrinkable …
Salt: limit the amount
Salt intake probably increases the risk of stomach cancer. High salt concentration attacks the lining of the stomach.
Many food products are too salty. Just like fat or sugar, salt is “appetizing”.
- You gradually get used to a less salty taste by reducing the doses when cooking.
- We dirty on the plate rather than in the kitchen.
- We buy less salty products. Processed foods must display nutrition labeling, which specifies the salt content. Often in tabular form, it can also specify the percentage of contribution that this represents for an adult. If a single serving of soup provides 32% of the recommended daily dose of salt for an adult, that’s a lot!
Deodorants and antiperspirants have been controversial in recent years. At issue: some studies incriminated components (especially aluminum salts) as responsible for breast cancer. These results have been invalidated since. Several cancer information organizations say that deodorants and antiperspirants do not promote breast cancer, despite some studies with less clear opinion.
But some deodorant ingredients can still cause other health problems.
There is no link between milk consumption and increased breast cancer, according to the Cancer Foundation. Research examining the link between milk and cancer does not seem conclusive.On the contrary, dairy products are part of a balanced diet.
Other risks promoting cancer
Other risks, less related to eco-consumption, also play a role in the development of cancer. The full list can be found on the Cancer Foundation website .
Most importantly, for any cancer, early detection increases the chances of recovery.