6 Ways to Prevent Cancer

by Scott Reid

In 2012, the World Health Organisation (known more commonly as the WHO) began an exhaustive study of populations – examining the rising medical concerns plaguing men, women, and children. This study, launched in conjunction with the Global Health Observatory and the Centre for Disease Control, revealed alarming trends within both developed and developing countries. It showed the ten leading causes of death:

  • Ischaemic Heart Disease: 7.4 million
  • Stroke: 6.7 million
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): 3.1 million
  • Lower Respiratory Infections: 3.1 million
  • Trachea Bronchus (Lung Cancers): 1.6 million
  • HIV and AIDS-Related Illness: 1.5 million
  • Diarrheal Diseases: 1.5 million
  • Diabetes Mellitus: 1.3 million
  • Road Injuries: 1.3 million
  • Hypertensive Heart Disease: 1.1 million

Among these causes, one proves the most distressing. Lung Cancer, ranked fifth on the global scale, experienced a sharp increase from the WHO’s previous study conducted in 2000. At that time, only 1.2 million suffered from this illness, and the near 25% increase summoned attention from physicians across the world – if only because this disease (along with other common cancers) is often preventable.


What is Cancer?

Much confusion surrounds the definition of cancer – if only because it proves so broad. Cancer Research UK reports that the disease has more than 200 variations, leaving individuals perplexed across the globe. How can they understand an illness that has no common symptoms, infection patterns, or even causes?

The answer lies in the cellular process. All cancer forms – including Carcinomas (Epithelium and Glandular), Sarcomas (Mesenchymal), Lymphomas (Blood), and Blastomas (Embryonic or Precursor) – originate in the body’s cytoplasm. Each day sees the creation of new network membranes, with cells constantly dividing, dying, and then regenerating. This regeneration is meant to strengthen the chromosomal DNA chains.

It sometimes fails – with cells dividing too rapidly and too often. This triggers an excess of nuclear materials, with abnormal cells creating invasive layers. These layers eventually expand to the point of propulsion, sending themselves through the bloodstream and into the marrow. They’re then recognised as foreign invaders, causing the body to attack itself. This causes cancer.

Cellular interference is the root of this illness, with damaged membranes infecting the lungs, heart, muscles, brain, and tissue. Damaged slivers are carried through the bloodstream, which makes their spread patterns both unpredictable and devastating.


Examining the Most Common Forms of Cancer

There are more than 200 variations of cancer – each defined by its own symptoms, infection rates, and treatment demands. The World Health Organisation has, however, identified the most prevalent forms for both men and women across the globe.


MenLung: 16.8% Incidence
Prostate: 14.8% Incidence
Colorectal: 10.1% Incidence
Stomach: 8.5% Incidence
Liver: 7.5% Incidence
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: 6.0% Incidence
Bladder: 4.5% Incidence
Oesophagus: 4.4% Incidence
Kidney: 2.9% Incidence
Leukaemia: 2.7% Incidence
Lip or Oral: 2.7% Incidence
Pancreatic: 2.4% Incidence
Larynx: 1.9% Incidence
Brain or Nervous System: 1.9% Incidence
Melanoma: 1.6% Incidence


WomenBreast: 25.1% Incidence
Colorectal: 9.2 Incidence
Lung: 8.8% Incidence
Cervix: 7.9% Incidence
Corpus Uteri: 4.8% Incidence
Stomach: 4.8% Incidence
Ovary: 3.6% Incidence
Thyroid: 3.5% Incidence
Liver: 3.4% Incidence
Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: 2.5% Incidence
Pancreatic: 2.4% Incidence
Oesophagus: 2.0% Incidence
Kidney: 1.9% Incidence
Brain or Nervous System: 1.8% Incidence

These percentages represent more than 14,000,000 deaths worldwide – with a GLOBOCAN study noting rising numbers across all the main regions, including:

  • North America: 1,786,000
  • South America: 807,700
  • Western Europe: 1,110,300
  • Southern Europe: 769,200
  • Western Asia: 317,000
  • Southeastern Asia: 786,400
  • Northern Africa: 220,600
  • Eastern Africa: 287,300
  • Australia and New Zealand: 143,400

The prevalence of cancer is undeniable, impacting every country and every population. The increase of cancer incidences across the globe, however, isn’t inevitable. It’s instead all too preventable.


The Preventable Pandemic: Understanding the Most Common Causes of Cancer

The centuries have witnessed the effects of many pandemics. Cholera ravaged the world in 1816; Influenza claimed more than 25% of the total population in 1918; Typhus proved more damning to soldiers than any musket during the Thirty Years’ War, and leprosy remains a worry even after its first arrival in 600 B.C. These illnesses have claimed millions of lives.

Cancer is doing the same, with each year revealing a staggering number of deaths across the world – deaths that are frequently regarded as preventable. This is not a viral pandemic. Its origins don’t exist in bacterial infections or transferable fluids. However, poor health choices often trigger it and recognising these decisions becomes essential when trying to reduce cellular failures.

1. Tobacco

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently released a shocking study, noting that global tobacco usage now exceeds 45% of the total over-15 population, with 967 million individuals admitting to smoking daily. These individuals – found in approximately 180 countries – all experience heightened cancer risks.

The World Health Organisation attributes tobacco to 12% of all total cancer deaths. By smoking, men and women dramatically increase their risks for disease – with the harmful carcinogens (including carbon monoxide, ammonia, arsenic, hydrogen cyanide, and formaldehyde) penetrating the bloodstream and lungs alike. This, the CDC reports, harms the bladder, cervix, colon, kidneys, liver, and trachea. It’s a full-body devastation.

The American Cancer Society predicts that, by 2030, 8 million people will die each year from tobacco usage. This statistic is troubling – and entirely preventable.

2. Alcohol

Alcohol consumption is on the rise. A study from European Addiction Research found that the average amount of pure alcohol consumed by individuals over the age of 15 was 6.13 litres per annum. This number affects approximately 33% of the total world population – and it plays a pivotal role in the emergence of cancer.

According to the World Cancer Research Centre, even occasional alcohol consumption greatly increases an individual’s risk for cancer: specifically bowel, breast, mouth, pharynx, oesophageal, and liver. The Centre also noted that certain regions experience these illnesses to a heightened degree, due to their excessive per capita ratios:

  • Europe: 9.5-litre consumption average.
  • The Americas: 6.7-litre consumption average.
  • Western Pacific: 4.7-litre consumption average.
  • Africa: 4.3-litre consumption average.

Alcohol damages cells, impeding their natural regeneration functions and causing abnormal growths to develop. This is a preventable cause that has immediate effects.

3. Ultraviolet Radiation

Sun exposure is a necessity. Through ultraviolet rays, the body absorbs Vitamin D, bolstering the immune system, increasing serotonin levels, and improving bone strength. Experiencing daily doses of light is essential. That light can quickly turn dangerous, however.

Ultraviolet radiation is a leading cause of cancer. Short-term rays pass through the atmosphere and penetrate the skin, burning the epidermis and altering cellular constructs. This damage, according to the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC), correlates to direct harmful exposure – lessening immune responses and impacting membrane growth.

This leads to an increased chance of illness, with the International Journal of Cancer noting that more than 200,000 individuals are diagnosed with malignant melanoma each year. Of these individuals, approximately 46,000 die – with the majority of incidences taking places in Europe, North America, and Australia.

To prevent radiation exposure, the National Institutes of Health recommends that individuals receive a daily intake of no more than:

Age: 0 to 12 months


Age: 1 to 13 years


Age: 14 to 18 years


Age: 19 to 50 years


Age: 51 to 70 years


Age: 70+ years


Dosage: 10 mcg


Dosage: 15 mcg


Dosage: 15 mcg


Dosage: 15 mcg


Dosage: 15 mcg


Dosage: 20 mcg


Limiting sun exposure drastically reduces the chance for deadly skin cancers.

4. Sugar

A love of sugar proves universal, with the United States Department of Agriculture noting a rise in global consumption levels (173 million metric tons for 2015 alone). This love is especially strong in the United States, Germany, and the Netherlands – with a recent survey from Euromonitor showcasing extremely high daily intakes:

  • United States: 126.4g consumed per person, per day
  • Germany: 102.9g consumed per person, per day
  • The Netherlands: 102.5g consumer per person, per day

Sweet treats take a toll on the body, however: triggering obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain forms of cancer. According to a ResearchGate study, high consumption levels breed insulin intolerance, with cells unable to process (and eliminate) sugar. This causes a build-up of foreign materials, which then interferes with the regeneration process. Cells turn cancerous and the tumours they form begin to feast on the remaining sugar.

This, the study contends, accelerates the overall spread of the disease, with cancerous genes rapidly growing through sugar consumption. The excess glucose exacerbates the progression.

Reducing sugar levels is, therefore, strongly recommended. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) suggests limiting intakes to 5% of the total dietary energy consumption. This allows individuals to better control their daily calories and lessen their chances of developing cancer.

5. Processed Meat

Processed meat serves as the world’s dietary cornerstone. ChartsBin notes that individuals consume approximately 41.90kg a year, with per capita ratios proving high in developed countries:

  • United States: 120.2kg per person
  • Australia: 111.5kg per person
  • Argentina: 98.3kg per person
  • Spain: 97.0kg per person
  • Canada: 94.3kg per person

The World Health Organisation reports, however, that processed meats lead to heightened cancer risks. The methods used to prepare mammalian muscle meat (which includes beef, pork, lamb, veal, goat, and mutton) trigger cellular responses, with high-temperature cooking releasing carcinogenic chemicals. These chemicals – aromatic amines and hydrocarbons – directly impact the body’s regeneration process:

Aromatic Amines: compound chemicals that release benzidines into the bladder, mirroring pesticide exposure.

Hydrocarbons: naturally occurring mutagens that penetrate the bloodstream and lungs, similar to smoke.

This, the World Health Organisation warns, increases the risk of cancer, with approximately 50,000 deaths a year attributed to processed meats. The organisation recommends decreasing overall consumption, as well as limiting direct exposure to open flames while cooking (this reduces the release of carcinogens).

A simple diet change can greatly impact health around the globe.

6. Chlorinated Water

Recent studies (like the one provided by Data 360) show that the average individual uses 121 litres of water per day, with consumption levels rising consistently. Country water usage have grown considerably within the last decade, with the strongest spikes seen in:

  • United States: 575 litres.
  • Australia: 493 litres.
  • Italy: 386 litres.
  • Japan: 374 litres.
  • Mexico: 366 litres.

Though hydration proves necessary, it also may interrupt cellular functions – with chlorinated tap water leading to heightened incidences of cancer. According to a study launched by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), extended exposure to chlorine — which is often used to disinfect tap water, eliminating dangerous pathogens like coliform bacteria, heterotrophic bacteria, and protozoan parasites – impedes the regeneration process. It releases a series of free radicals into the bloodstream, which then attack membranes. This damages the cellular network and causes tumours to form.

By drinking chlorinated water, individuals are more likely to experience bladder, rectal, or breast cancer. It’s strongly recommended, therefore, to utilise carbon-based filtration systems to remove this disinfectant and reduce its effects.


The Limits of Prevention

Through limiting exposure to tobacco, alcohol, ultraviolet rays, sugar, processed meats, and chlorinated water, individuals can significantly decrease cancer concerns. These prevention methods target the most common forms of the disease (including lung, breast, and skin melanomas) – and they help to strengthen the body’s cells, encouraging natural divisions.

They’re not, however, infallible. Preventative methods, while effective, may still be unable to maintain good health. Screening is instead required, with the National Health Service (NHS) suggesting these age guidelines:

Breast Cancer

Women between the ages of 50 and 70 receive screening invitations every three years.

Colon and Rectal Cancer

Those between the ages of 60 and 74 (and living in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland) receive screening invitations every two years.

Cervical Cancer

Women between the ages of 26 and 49 receive screening invitations every three years, while women between the ages of 50 and 64 receive them every five years.

Pairing preventative methods with early detection ensures that individuals are more efficiently protected – and it counters the effects of the cancer pandemic. The statistics aren’t definite. They can instead, be changed.

Scott Reid
Scott Reid


Scott Reid is a 2 x Britain’s Strongest Man U105kg winner (2007 & 2008) and IFSA World's Strongest Man U105kg Competitor. He is an expert in strength and conditioning and also coaches functional nutrition. Scott’s passion for understanding the human body and how to optimise every aspect of it has driven him to study under legends such as Paul Chek. Scott now coaches MMA Athletes, Strongmen and Bodybuilders to name but a few, helping them to implement a well structured diet and become more powerful, explosive versions of themselves.

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