7 steps to stay cancer free

Lifestyle choices play a part in determining our risk for cancer.

Based on the Central Tumor Registry of the Philippines, our country has the same incidence of cancer of all sites as the United States and Japan.

This is not surprising since we share the same cosmopolitan lifestyle as the two other economic giants.

What is alarming is the fact that majority of Filipinos are not equiped financially and medically to deal with cancer and its complications. The local healthcare system does not give 100% subsidy. A large chunk of the bill is still paid from the person's own pocket.

Since hospitalization and medicines can be very expensive, let me coin the catch phrase of then Secretary of Health, Dr. Juan Flavier, "Dahil magastos magkasakit: bawal magkasakit!"

Here is a list of 7 healthy behaviors to keep cancer away:

1. Don’t smoke.

Cigarette smoke contains almost 70 cancer-causing toxins. By not taking up the habit and by quitting, you will not be exposing yourself to the increased risk of cancer. All over the world, smoking kills five times more people than road accidents, drug overdose, murder and suicide combined.

RELATED: 4 foods to help you quit smoking

2. Stay away from secondhand smoke.

If smoking a cigarette yourself exposes you to 70 toxic chemicals, think of this: second-hand smoke contains 7,000 chemicals, 250 of which are harmful like cyanide and carbon monoxide. It's pretty much like inhaling the fumes as you stand behind the exhaust pipe of a jeepney. A non-smoker who lives with a smoker has a 30% chance of developing cancer herself.

IN PHOTOS: What secondhand smoke does to your body.

3. Exercise regularly.

One hour of moderate activity or 30 minutes of vigorous activity can reduce your cancer risk. The top cancers like breast and colon cancer may be avoided simply by exercising. An active lifestyle will allow body waste to pass through the intestines reducing exposure to cancer-causing toxins. Regular exercise leads to less body fat which converts to estrogen which can stimulate hormone sensitive organs. Exercise also lowers insulin which is known to speed up tumor growth.

READ: Diet vs. exercise: which matters most?

4. Avoid alcohol.

Two glasses of wine a day may be good for your heart but it can increase the risk of cancer later in life.

MUST-READ: The hidden calories in alcohol

5. Eat healthy.

Choose foods that have gone through the least amount of processing and go for fruits and veggies with the most color like red, bright green and deep purple. They indicate the presence of antioxidants which counteract the effects of toxins in our body. Choose roasting over frying and avoid oil that has been reused several times. Prolonged high heat also produces toxins in cooking oil.

RELATED: 7 foods that can enhance the effects of exercise

6. Avoid weight gain.

By choosing the right foods and exercising regularly, you will be able to maintain your ideal body weight. There is a wealth of benefits in keeping your weight in check. It makes you look better, feel better and happier. Good self image can release endorphins which are happy hormones that have anti-cancer effects.

READ: Debunking detox diet myths

7. Get screening tests and regular check-ups.

Most cancers have no symptoms until they get to a later stage. Visiting your doctor regularly can catch the disease in their early stages. There are better survival rates if cancer is detected before it has spread. An example is breast cancer. At stage 1, there is an 80-90% survival rate. While at stage 4, only 15% will remain alive in 5 years.

Always remember...bawal magkasakit!

Got a health question for Dr. D? Write it down on the Comments section below. Read more stories from The Blogging Doc here.