3 Ways Bodybuilding Helps You Avoid Cancer.

Is cancer an inevitable diagnosis for some of us? Not necessarily. There are many steps you can take to decrease your risk of developing various types of cancer. Learn more.

Article Summary:
  • Living a bodybuilding lifestyle helps avoid many of the risk factors.
  • Some factors like age and family history cannot be avoided.
  • Having one or two risk factors does not guarantee you'll have cancer.
  • Cancer evokes fear in many because we often see no warning signs. A person goes from apparently healthy to being diagnosed with cancer. And, all of us have heard stories of people with an incredibly short period of time between diagnosis and death.

    Is cancer an inevitable diagnosis for some of us? Not necessarily. There are many steps you can take to decrease your risk of developing various types of cancer.

    Is Cancer An Inevitable Diagnosis For Some Of Us?
    + Click To Enlarge.
    Is Cancer An Inevitable
    Diagnosis For Some Of Us?

    What Is Cancer?

    Cancer starts when abnormal cells divide out of control and invade other, healthy body tissues. Normally our cells grow and divide then die when they become old and/or damaged. These cells are replaced with healthy new cells. When the DNA within our cells becomes damaged this process can go haywire and normal cell growth and division is disrupted leading to cancer.

    Exercise And Cancer 101!
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    Exercise And Cancer 101!
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    Risk Factors

      There are over 100 different types of cancer. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has outlined the risk factors for many types of cancer on their website. In addition, NCI outlined overall risk factors for developing cancer. These include:


        The longer you live the likelihood of developing cancer increases.

    My Dad Has Brain Cancer.
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    My Dad Has Brain Cancer.
    I got some bad news today. My Dad has been falling a lot lately; he is 76, he was admitted into the hospital to have some tests done. I spoke to his doctor and he has brain cancer.
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      Diet, Physical Inactivity, Alcohol Use, Overweight

        More on this later.

      Tobacco Use

        Smoking, dipping, secondhand smoke, you name it, tobacco sucks. It makes you smell bad and look older too. Besides looking wrinkled with pursed lips, smokers have an increased risk of developing cancer of the lungs, larynx, mouth, esophagus, bladder, kidney, throat, stomach, pancreas, cervix and acute myeloid leukemia (cancer that starts in blood cells).

    Smoking, Dipping, Secondhand Smoke, You Name It, Tobacco Sucks.
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    Smoking, Dipping, Secondhand Smoke,
    You Name It, Tobacco Sucks.

      Sunlight Exposure

        Have you ever walked into a tanning salon that carries signs saying their beds are UVB free? They may be UVB free but if they tan you, you are getting harmful rays. UVA rays, the kind that cause wrinkling and skin cancer. If you want a tan, use the spray on stuff or lotion and don't believe what the people working in a tanning booth tell you.

      Ionizing Radiation

        Ionizing radiation comes from radioactive fallout (from nuclear power plants or plants where they test the production and use of atomic weapons), radon gas, x-rays, and other sources.

    What Is Radon Gas?
    Radon is a chemical element with symbol Rn and atomic number 86. Radon is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, naturally occurring, radioactive noble gas that is formed from the decay of radium. It is one of the heaviest substances that remains a gas under normal conditions and is considered to be a health hazard. The most stable isotope, 222Rn, has a half-life of 3.8 days. While having been less studied by chemists due to its high radioactivity, there are a few known compounds of this generally unreactive element.

    Radon is responsible for the majority of the mean public exposition to ionizing radiations. It is often the single largest contributor to an individual's background radiation dose, and is certainly the most variable from location to location. Radon gas from natural sources can accumulate in buildings, especially in confined areas such as basements. Radon can be found in some spring waters and hot springs.

    Breathing high concentrations of radon can cause lung cancer. Thus, radon is considered a significant contaminant that affects indoor air quality worldwide. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, radon could be the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking; and radon-induced lung cancer the 6th leading cause of cancer death overall, causing 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year in the United States.

        People exposed to radioactive fall have an increased risk of leukemia and thyroid, breast, lung and stomach cancer. X-rays provide very low doses of radiation and the benefits of x-rays as a screening tool far outweigh the risks from radiation exposure.

      Certain Chemicals And Other Substances

        Some of these chemicals include asbestos, benzene, benzidine, cadmium, nickel, and vinyl chloride.

      Some Viruses And Bacteria

        Human Papillomaviruses (HPVs): Some strains of HPV cause cervical cancer and HPV may put you at risk for other types of cancer.

        Hepatitis B And Hepatitis C: These can increase your risk of developing liver cancer.

        Human T-cell Leukemia/Lymphoma Virus (HTLV-1): Increases a person's risk of lymphoma and leukemia.

        Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV): HIV increases one's risk of certain types of cancer including lymphoma and the rare cancer Kaposi's sarcoma.

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        Mono (Epstein-Barr virus, EBV): Infection with mono has been linked to an increased risk of lymphoma.

        Human Herpes Virus 8 (HHV8): This virus is considered a risk factor for Kaposi's sarcoma.

        Helicobacter Pylori: The virus that causes stomach ulcers, H pylori, can increase your risk of developing stomach cancer and lymphoma in the stomach lining.

      Family History

        Cancer actually doesn't typically run in families. However, melanoma and cancers of the breast, ovary, prostate, and colon can run in families.

    Omega-3 Oils Slash Prostate Cancer Risk.
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    Omega-3 Oils Slash Prostate Cancer Risk.
    Very good information for those of us (males) who take Fish Oil. The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish could slash the risk of developing prostate cancer almost in half.
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    Bodybuilding Can Help Decrease Your Risk Of Developing Some Types Of Cancer

      You can decrease your risk of developing many types of cancer by leading a healthy lifestyle and controlling environmental factors as much as possible. Luckily, as a bodybuilder, you are already following the recommendations from top scientific organizations for decreasing your risk of developing cancer:

      Avoid Excess Alcohol Consumption

        Drinking two or more drinks per day increases your risk of developing cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx, liver, and breast. The risk increases with greater alcohol consumption and it also increases if you pair alcohol with cigarettes.

    Drinking Two Or More Drinks Per Day Increases Your Risk Of Developing Some Cancers.
    + Click To Enlarge.
    Drinking Two Or More Drinks Per Day Increases
    Your Risk Of Developing Some Cancers.

        As a bodybuilder, if you drink, you drink either rarely or in extreme moderation. Drinking does not build the body of champions inside or outside. And if you smoke, start doing intervals. Soon you'll realize how much smoking impairs your lung capacity.

      Maintain A Healthy Weight And Engage In Regular Physical Activity

        Being overweight and being a couch potato both increase your risk for cancers of the breast, colon, esophagus, kidney, and uterus.

        If you are a bodybuilder you have both of these areas covered. What you are doing to look fabulous on the outside and attract people of the opposite (or same if you prefer) sex, will also help you decrease your risk for some types of cancer.

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    Bodybuilding Helps You Beat Obesity!
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      Eat A Good Diet

        Approximately 30-40% of all cancers are linked to one's diet. Experts recommend eating a diet high in fiber, whole-grains and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables for preventing cancer. Those who choose organic produce are decreasing their risk of ingesting unhealthy pesticides and herbicides. A few dietary don'ts:

        • Avoid smelly or moldy foods (they may contain aflatoxin)
        • Do not cook oils on high heat (240°F or above)
        • Avoid cured, dried or preserved meats (like dark beer, they contain nitrosamines)
        • Avoid burning or charring meat. If you do overcook it, cut those parts off and discard them.
        • Avoid fried and charbroiled meats.
        • Minimize your intake of smoked foods.

    Avoid Fried And Charbroiled Meats.
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    Avoid Fried And Charbroiled Meats.

      If you are a bodybuilder, you also very aware of your body and notice when something doesn't feel right. Keep in mind that having one or more risk factors doesn't mean you are doomed to a future cancer diagnosis. In fact, according to the NCI, most people who have risk factors will never develop cancer.

    Additional Tips To Help Prevent Cancer

      If you take a look at many of the viruses and bacteria listed above, you'll see that they are preventable. Her are some additional tips to help you prevent cancer:

      • Don't share needles with anyone.
      • Avoid unprotected sex (and no the pill doesn't protect you from disease). Is one night of spontaneous fun worth a lifetime of disease?
      • Consider getting the vaccine that prevents Hepatitis B and see your doctor if you have stomach problems that won't go away (get tested for H pylori).
    Have You Been Vaccinated For Hepatitis B?

    Not Yet But I Will Be.

      • If you are traveling to a foreign country, see CDC's website for the vaccines you need and additional tips on staying safe and healthy.
      • If you think you have a family history of a certain type of cancer, talk to your physician for additional tips on prevention and screening.

      Last, but not least, if you haven't listened to the "Last Lecture" of Professor Randy Pausch, Google it. It's a story not of cancer and death but of life and inspiration.


    Randy Pausch Last Lecture:
    Achieving Your Childhood Dreams

    Carnegie Mellon Professor Randy Pausch (Oct. 23, 1960 - July 25, 2008) gave his last lecture at the university Sept. 18, 2007, before a packed McConomy Auditorium. In his moving presentation, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," Pausch talked about his lessons learned and gave advice to students on how to achieve their own career and personal goals.

    Click The Play Button To Start The Video.

      If you knew you only had a certain amount of time left on this earth, what would you do with it? How would you make the most of your time and what message would you want to leave for others? Dr. Pausch explored this in his widely circulated "Last Lecture" and inspired audiences worldwide.

    About The Author

    Marie Spano, MS, RD, CSCS, has counseled hundreds of individuals on weight loss and sports nutrition. For more information, visit her website: www.mariespano.com.


    1. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/
    2. American Institute of Cancer Research. www.aicr.org