15 Useful Ways to Prevent Cancer

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Some of the most effective ways to prevent cancer include the use of whole grains, garlic, berries, tomatoes, green tea, spinach, turmeric, beans, coffee, ginger, and oregano as well as behavioral changes such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly, getting regular checkups, and losing weight.

What is Cancer?

In recent decades, it seems like nothing strikes fear in the heart so much as the sound of cancer. The “Big C” causes nearly 15% of all human deaths around the world – between 8 and 10 million per year, on average. Cancer comes in many forms, and more than 100 have been identified thus far, and it seems like new varieties appear every year. By definition, cancer is a malignant tumor or a mass of mutated cells that can grow and metastasize within the body, compromising organ system function and eventually leading to death. Cancer is the most heavily researched disease in the world, and more than $1 trillion is spent on cancer treatment and infrastructure around the world each year. Unfortunately, every cancer is slightly different, as it attacks the body differently in almost every case, and can mutate to protect itself, making consistent or universal treatment nearly impossible.

Different varieties of cancer have significantly different mortality rates; for example, the one-year survival rate of pancreatic cancer is 25 percent, whereas the five-year survival rate for thyroid cancer is 97 percent. This means that many types of cancer can be “treated” and “sent into remission”, and there are many different treatments that have been tried. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, and surgery are the most commonly used strategies in formal medical situations, but there are many side effects and no guarantee of remission. Having cancer is a tragedy that strikes millions, so prevention is highly recommended. There is no telling when or in what form cancer will strike, so behavioral and dietary strategies for prevention are your best bet.

Ways to Prevent Cancer

Let us look at the ways we can potentially reduce the risk of cancer.

Whole Grains

One of the most widely recommended anti-cancer dietary staples is whole grains, namely due to the high content of fiber and antioxidants. One of the more common forms of cancer is colorectal cancer, and whole grains have been directly linked to preventing the development of this cancer variety. There is a low glycemic load in whole grains and wheat, rather than things like white bread, potatoes, and other foods that increase your blood sugar rapidly.


Regular Exercise

Exercising regularly is a great way for your body to clean out toxins, release endorphins, boost your metabolism, and improve your immune system. All of these things are important for cancer prevention, as you need a well-oiled machine to fight off the constant barrage of carcinogens in our food, atmosphere, and personal lifestyle habits, such as smoking and drinking.


The most famous active ingredient of garlic is allicin, which has been directly linked to a reduction in cancerous cells, and it appears to reduce the spread of cancerous cells, even inducing apoptosis (automatic cell death). Allicin is a powerful antioxidant substance that can help lower your chances of many types of cancers, including cancer of the esophagus, colon, and stomach.


Eating fruits and vegetables is a fundamental way to prevent cancer, but berries, in particular, have a high concentration of antioxidant nutrients and compounds that can reduce the risk of cancer. These antioxidants include anthocyanins, tannins, and flavonols. Some of the best berries to prevent cancer are blueberries, which are often referred to as a “superfood” – and with good reason!

Quit Smoking

According to the American Cancer Society, almost half of the deaths from cancer are linked to cigarette smoking. Cigarettes are packed with dangerous toxins and carcinogens that can greatly increase your chances of developing cancer – and not just lung cancer. More than a dozen other cancers have been linked to smoking, even those not related to the respiratory system such as bladder, kidney, and liver cancer, among others. Avoiding cigarettes is one of the first things to do if you want to prevent the onset of cancer. It is best to talk to your doctor about nicotine replacement products and strategies to quit smoking.


Lycopene is a powerful active ingredient inside tomatoes that has shown plenty of antioxidant abilities. Most notably, lycopene has been linked to the prevention of prostate cancer in men, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Additional research into tomatoes’ impact on other cancers is ongoing.

Green Tea

The catechins and epicatechins found in green tea make it a wonderful addition to your diet for many different health reasons, but in terms of cancer, green tea could be a potential preventative medicine. However, further studies are needed to know the tea’s therapeutic abilities.

Reduce Alcohol Intake

Excessive alcohol consumption can weaken your immune system, compromise your liver, and generally promote toxicity within the body. Although some people say that one drink a day can improve overall heart health, alcohol consumption does increase the risk of throat, liver, esophagus, and mouth cancer, so it is better to exercise caution while drinking.

Ways to prevent cancer - infographic


Green leafy vegetables have always been praised for their health benefits, namely due to its content of lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, and in terms of cancer, these antioxidant compounds can limit the growth of cancerous cells, and promote the overall health of the body.


Turmeric, a popular spice, contains curcumin, which has been directly linked to apoptosis of cancerous cells. A 2019 study showed that curcumin had anticancer properties and potentially prevents the migration of tumor cells. Turmeric supplements should be taken only on the advice fo a medical professional; however, you can try adding the spice to your dishes for its health benefits.

Lose Weight

Obesity puts excess strain on all of the body’s systems and can lead to other health conditions like diabetes and heart disease. When the body is weakened, it is easier for free radicals to strike. According to a study published in Elsevier’s Metabolism, losing some weight, or at least preventing obesity, remains one of the wisest and most effective ways to prevent cancer.


There has been a great deal of debate about the benefits or dangers of coffee in recent years, but there is no denying that caffeine does have its benefits in battling brain, throat, and oral cancer. Everything in moderation, as always, but having two cups of coffee can be a major cancer preventer, provided you keep yourself hydrated as well and don’t become too dependent on that caffeine boost.


Ginger has a number of active ingredients that make it useful in keeping the body healthy, according to a report in the Food and Chemical Toxicology journal. These ingredients include gingerol and zingerone, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They can neutralize free radicals before they can cause your body harm, thereby protecting against a wide range of cancers.

Reduce Stress

Stress hormones can be helpful in some situations, but very dangerous if they are present in your body for long periods of time. According to a study published in The Lancet, they can weaken your immune system, exhaust your mind, increase oxidative stress, and compromise your metabolic activity. By relaxing and reducing anxiety, you can potentially reduce the risk of cancer.


Oregano may have the ability to neutralize carcinogens in the body, due to the presence of carvacrol, the active ingredient of this herb. Research has linked oregano to a slower spread of cancerous cells, and a reduction in the size of tumors.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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