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10 Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk

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Steps 6-10

6. Drink green tea. Like fruits and vegetables, green tea is rich in antioxidants, and recent studies link it to a reduced risk of several cancers. For example, researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles compared 501 Asian women who had breast cancer with 594 Asian women who didn't. The findings show that those with cancer drank significantly lower amounts of green tea. Other studies link green-tea drinking with a decreased risk of esophageal, pancreatic, colon and rectal cancers.

7. Reduce exposure to pesticides. Many studies have shown that farmers occupationally exposed to pesticides have unusually high rates of several cancers. Research suggests that suburban children may face a cancer risk from home and garden pesticides—everything from exterminator services to garden weed killers to the insecticide strips that hang on many porches. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley compared household pesticide exposure in 324 infants and toddlers, half of whom were recently diagnosed with leukemia. The findings show that compared with the kids not exposed to home pesticide, those who were had up to three times the leukemia risk.

8. Avoid unnecessary X-rays. Radiation from X-rays increases the risk of several cancers. "Tell your dentist you don't want X-rays every year," advises Dr. Thun. "And if your child needs a CT scan, make sure the facility has low-dose pediatric CT equipment. But don't avoid recommended mammograms. The benefit of mammography for early detection of breast cancer far outweighs the risk of its radiation exposure."

9. Limit salted, pickled and smoked foods. These foods may increase your risk of stomach cancer. It's fine to eat an occasional dill pickle or a slice of smoked salmon, says Dr. Greenwald, but he advises against making salted, pickled or smoked foods a staple in your diet.

10. Rid your home of radon. Radon gas is the number-two (after smoking) cause of lung cancer, according to Dr. Thun, and is responsible for some 20,000 lung cancer deaths a year. You can't see or smell radon, a natural decay product of uranium that occurs in soil and rock. It accumulates in about six million U.S. homes, especially in basements. Most radon-related lung cancers could be prevented if Americans ventilated their homes more effectively. To learn if radon is a problem in your home, you can purchase a home-test kit available at many hardware and home improvement stores. If your home has high levels of radon, work with a licensed or certified contractor to improve ventilation.