Whether you’re a flight attendant, a pilot, or a jet-setting businessperson, you are at a much higher risk of a variety of cancers. Female flight attendants have a 50% higher risk of breast cancer than women in other professions, and frequent flyers are four times more likely to get non-melanoma skin cancer.
Cabin crews are also at an increased risk of cervix, thyroid, colon, liver, and stomach cancer. However, if you’re not a frequent flyer, you likely won’t be exposed to enough ionizing radiation to matter. Smoking
There are 4,800 toxic substances found in cigarettes, and you inhale every single one of them every time you light up. If you smoke, your life expectancy is at least ten years shorter than non-smokers, and your risk of heart attack, lung disease, and a variety of cancers is increased.
The good news: if you stop smoking before age 40, you reduce your risk of dying from a smoking-related disease by almost 90%. And even if you’re over 40, your body notices increased benefits from quitting almost instantly. After three months, your lung capacity is improved, and after five years, your risk of dying from stomach, mouth, throat, lung, or esophageal cancer is cut in half. Drinking
Alcohol may be good for your heart – you’ll often hear people say that a glass of wine a day is beneficial. However, there’s much research to suggest that regular consumption of alcohol can account for an increased risk of cancer in both men and women. Alcohol consumption has been shown to increase the development of several types of cancer, including breast cancer, liver cancer, and esophageal cancer.
If you drink two to three drinks a day, or any more than ten drinks a week, you’re at increased risk. However, cutting your alcohol consumption can positively impact your life in multiple ways! You’ll likely lose weight and will almost definitely reduce your cholesterol, which will also help prevent cancer. Exposure to Secondhand Smoke
Even if you don’t smoke yourself, exposure to secondhand smoke can raise your cancer risk. There’s really no safe level of exposure, and while most public places have banned smoking on the premises, it can be hard to avoid smoke in your home or at private gatherings. Being in the house of someone who smokes, even if they’re not actively smoking at the time, can still harm you; chemicals from cigarette smoke can stick around in furniture and carpets.
The best way to protect yourself from secondhand smoke is to avoid people who smoke or places that allow cigarette smoking. If it’s not possible to avoid smokers, educating them on the risk to you and themselves may convince them to drop the habit for good. Being Overweight
Most people don’t associate cancer with being overweight or obese. Being overweight is more often associated with diabetes or heart disease. However, about 8% of all cancers can be attributed to being overweight or obese, so losing weight can help you lower the risk of getting a variety of cancers, including liver cancer, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, breast cancer, and more.
“Body weight plays a role in inflammation, changes in hormone levels, and can affect biochemicals in your body like insulin,” says Gapstur. Luckily, losing weight immediately reduces the risk of these types of cancer. It also increases your rate of survival, should you be diagnosed. Getting Your Nails Done
With the rise in conscientious consumerism, many customers know that nail polishes traditionally contain cancer-causing compounds. Chemicals like triphenyl phosphate, toluene, and dibutyl phthalate can all cause cancer or congenital disabilities.
The danger of getting your nails done doesn’t just impact clients, however. Manicurists are also at increased risk of being diagnosed with multiple myeloma. If you’re a manicurist or simply love getting your nails done, make sure to only go to salons that provide gloves and masks. Check for proper ventilation as well! Drinking Tap Water
It’s long been understood that unfiltered tap water can be dangerous to your health. From Erin Brokovich’s exposure of chromium-6 in Hinkley, CA to the ongoing saga of Flint, MI, tap water and the potential compounds it contains have been in the news a lot. And while most tap water goes through some sort of filtration before coming to your house, that doesn’t mean it’s safe.
In addition to chromium-6, you can find arsenic, disinfection byproducts, nitrates, and more lurking in your water supply. The best option is to invest in your own water filter, whether through a pitcher or by installing a secondary filtration system in your home. You should also regularly check to see what chemicals may be in your tap water. Inactivity
Many adults work sedentary jobs, sitting at a desk for eight or more hours every day. However, the ACS recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity every week, spread out over several days. If you’re not getting exercise, you’re in danger of developing colon cancer, breast cancer, or endometrial cancer. There are other cancers you’ll also be at higher risk of getting, including liver, myeloma, and kidney cancer.
However, increasing the activity in your life can help improve your immune system, reduce inflammation, and lower the levels of certain growth factors that have been associated with cancer development and progression. So going on a walk every day, riding a bike, or taking a dip in a pool can help you lose weight and improve your health! Working The Late Shift
The connection between sleep and cancer is still a developing field of research, but several studies have indicated that there’s a link between poor sleep and increased cancer risk. People with circadian rhythm disorders may have a higher rate of breast and prostate cancer.
Those most commonly at risk for sleep disorders include people who work in overnight or graveyard shifts. Night nurses, third shift workers, and people who work split shifts that may disrupt sleep cycles are in danger of increased cancer risk. If possible, avoid working a job that requires odd hours; when that’s not possible, try to ensure that you’re getting regular sleep, even if it’s not at night. Getting Your Clothes Dry-Cleaned
When you’re preparing for a special event, you want to look your best. For many people, that means getting your outfit dry-cleaned so that you know it’s truly stunning. However, most dry cleaning processes use a chemical called “perc,” which is a known health hazard. If you work in a dry cleaner or regularly get your shirts starched and pressed, you may be at higher risk for esophagus, kidney, and bladder cancer.
If you absolutely must dry clean your clothes, try to minimize how often you do so. Since it’s regular exposure to the chemical that increases your risk of getting these cancers, infrequent dry-cleaning shouldn’t be an issue. HPV
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the single most commonly sexually transmitted infection, and many people with HPV don’t develop any symptoms. However, even without exhibiting symptoms, people with HPV have an increased risk of developing several different types of cancer. The ACS estimates that over 31,000 men and women are diagnosed with HPV-caused cancers every year.
If you don’t have HPV, getting the Gardasil vaccination can protect against infections. If you’re over 26, however, the vaccine may not be effective. In that case, it’s imperative to get screened regularly if you’re sexually active and seek treatment if you are diagnosed with precancerous cell changes. Eating Processed Meat
Bacon, hotdogs, lunchmeat – nearly everyone loves processed meats. However, research shows that eating any processed meat increases the risk of both stomach and colorectal cancers. Processed meats are generally made with nitrates and nitrates, which can form nitrosamines when heated. These carcinogenic compounds can build up and cause issues.
You can look for nitrite- and nitrate-free selections of processed meat. You can also save your consumption of processed meats like bacon and sausage for special occasions. But overall, it’s best to avoid eating processed meat entirely if at all possible. Drinking Overly Hot Beverages
Many people start their days off with hot coffee or tea, especially in the winter. Hot chocolate, cider, and other hot drinks are often shared at social occasions, and people don’t think twice about partaking. However, beverages served over 140 degrees Fahrenheit can elevate your risk of esophageal cancer.
Dr. James Doidge, a senior research associate at University College London, says “It doesn’t take a scientist to appreciate that repeated irritation of any body surface increases your risk of cancer…many foods and drinks contribute to the risk of gastrointestinal cancers.” Most hot commercial beverages are served at between 140-160 degrees F. To reduce your risk, let the drink cool before taking your first sip. Heating Takeout Containers
If you’ve ever reheated your takeout in the container it came in, then you may have put yourself at risk of exposure to styrene. Styrene is used in the creation of a variety of things, including many types of food containers. Studies have shown that repeated exposure to this chemical can increase your risk of cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, as well as cancer of your pancreas or esophagus.
While most people will only experience the potential of styrene exposure through food containers, people who work in fabrication can also be exposed. At home, you can limit your risk of exposure by directly transferring your takeout to a standard plate or bowl!