Cancer cases are on the rise globally, with a new report by the World Health Organization indicating that the world could see a 60 percent increase in the number of cancer cases within the next two decades. For millennials, this is a worrying statistic as they will likely be hit hardest. For many of them, the scariest prospect is not them getting cancer but their children getting it. Millennial parents are willing to do anything to reduce the chances of their children getting cancer, even if it means making huge changes in their lives. While some cancers may arise as a result of the DNA children inherit from their parents, the most common cancers arise as a result of lifestyle choices and the environment in which children grow. This is where millennial parents are focusing their efforts when trying ways to lower their children’s risk of getting cancer.
Leading an organic lifestyle
More millennials are choosing to lead an organic lifestyle not only to reduce their carbon footprints but also to reduce the likelihood of their family members getting diseases like cancer. The most common way millennials are adopting the organic lifestyle is through their food choices for their families. A French study that followed 70,000 adults for five years found that people who consume organic food regularly had a steep drop in the incidence of cancer.
As such, millennial parents have become the biggest users of organic foods, especially those with higher household incomes. Some of them are even taking it up a notch and feeding their toddlers organic baby formulas to ensure that they never eat foods with any chemicals. The organic lifestyle choices don’t end there; some millennial parents are also choosing the organic versions of clothing, body hygiene and beauty products, and cleaning materials, all in an effort to limit their children’s exposure to harmful chemicals and ultimately protect them from cancer.
Encouraging children to exercise
Leading an active lifestyle can help prevent cancer in various ways. For one, encouraging children to exercise will help them avoid childhood obesity which has become a big public health challenge affecting 20 percent of all American children. Although there are no studies that directly link obesity to cancer, consistent evidence has shown that higher amounts of body fat can lead to the increased risk of several cancers including liver cancer, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal cancer, and breast cancer. Beyond preventing obesity, regular physical activity can also help in stabilizing the levels of hormones like insulin and estrogen which have been linked to cancer.
Avoiding smoking tobacco
Tobacco smoke is a huge risk factor for cancer for both parents and children. The poisons in tobacco can damage DNA, increasing the incidence of cancers such as lung, voice box, throat, liver, and kidney. First of all, parents who use tobacco in the presence of their children expose them to secondhand smoke that has been shown to increase cancer risk by 25 percent. The sidestream smoke emanating from the burning end of a cigarette is also extremely dangerous as it contains 3 times the carbon monoxide, ten times the nitrosamines, and more than a hundred times the ammonia in exhaled smoke.
On top of that, studies have shown that the more a parent smokes, the higher the chances of their child picking up the habit in their teenage years. Parents who can’t quit smoking are having to do it far away from their kids to protect them. As an added measure to reduce cancer risk and be ‘good examples’ for their children, millennial parents are also limiting their alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol increases the risk of mouth, breast, throat, and bowel cancers by causing the buildup of harmful chemicals in the body, affecting hormone levels, and amplifying the toxic effects of tobacco.
Millennials have learned that just like other diseases, cancer can be prevented by making a few changes to their lifestyles. While it may be too late for them to make some of these vital changes in their own lives, many have realized that it’s not too late to do so in their children’s lives.