12 simple ways to ward off cancer

Try out any one of these simple tips each day this week!
© Self // © Self

Sleep more

People who logged fewer than six hours a night were 50 percent more likely to develop colon cancer than those who got more than seven, a study in Cancer reports. "Sleep helps cells repair themselves," says Marisa C. Weiss, M.D., president and founder of BreastCancer.org.
-- Marisa Cohen, SELF Magazine
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Run on side streets

The highest concentration of air pollutants is found near busy intersections and heavily trafficked streets surrounded by tall buildings, research from the University of Leeds finds. Also, check AirNow.gov: If the air-quality index score is above 150, hit the gym.

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Eat takeout off real plates

BPA, a synthetic estrogen linked to cancer, is in many plastic food containers and can leach into your meal when the container is heated and possibly when simply exposed to hot food. Transfer your pad thai to a ceramic plate before digging in.

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Make a date

Texting and tweeting are great but shouldn't replace actual face time. "A strong social network helps people take better care of themselves," says Alyson Moadel, Ph.D., director of the psychosocial oncology program at the Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care.

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Take a desk break

"Too much sitting can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, both of which may up cancer risk," says Brigid M. Lynch, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at Alberta Health Services. "Standing for a few minutes every half hour may be enough to minimize the effects."

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Don’t top off your gas tank

Squeezing out that last drop of gas can release toxic fumes into the air, including benzene, which has been tied to leukemia, the Environmental Protection Agency says. When you fill up, stand upwind of the pump and stop when the nozzle clicks, even if it's at $29.97.

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Open wide

Poor dental hygiene can increase your risk for gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. Over time, high levels of inflammation may increase your risk for cancer, Dr. Weiss says. Another good reason to see your dentist: She can screen you for early signs of oral cancer.

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Schedule an HPV test

If you are 30 or older, request a human papillomavirus test along with your Pap smear. HPV causes most cervical cancers; as you get older, your body is less able to clear the infection on its own. If both tests are negative, you can wait three years before checking again.

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Create a virtual medical log

Create a detailed diagram of your relatives' health history by clicking on the Family Health Portrait Web tool at http://www.hhs.gov/familyhistory. Upload it to the free Microsoft HealthVault, then email the link to loved ones.

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Find Dr. nice

A rude doc can mean poorer health for you. To provide the best care, "physicians need to have good social skills, because medicine is all about teamwork," says Johns Hopkins University Civility Project cofounder P.M. Forni, Ph.D. If yours doesn't measure up, make a switch.

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