A Cancer-Preventive Workday

Adopt these protective habits

A Cancer-Preventive Workday

Most of us have workday routines. We grab our usual coffee or tea to go, and we take our preferred route to the office. But what if you tweaked those routines to avoid more than bad traffic and low energy? What if your workday habits could help prevent cancer?

In short, they can. Research offers easy-to-follow guidelines for reducing your cancer risk from the hour you wake up to the minute you wrap up your work.

Your morning mug

Good news for those of us who like a little pick-me-up in the morning: research suggests moderate coffee drinking—fewer than five cups a day—may lower liver and endometrial cancer risk thanks to coffee’s phytochemicals and vitamins.

Green tea may be an even smarter choice. Studies suggest it reduces the risk of prostate cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer and more.

Your lunch

When you’re packing lunch for work—or prepping any meal— it’s all about a predominantly plant-based diet.

“The science is clear: you can lower your risk of cancer if you … eat plenty of vegetables and fruit, as well as other fiber-rich plant foods such as whole grains and beans,” says Gina Sunderland, a clinical oncology dietitian.

Sunderland also recommends these anticancer meal-planning tips.

  • Eat whole grain bread, cereal, rice and pasta, which are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  • Focus on non-meat proteins like beans, lentils, eggs, nuts, seeds and tofu.
  • If you eat meat, opt for fish or organic lean meat.
  • Limit red meat intake to fewer than three 3 oz (85 g) servings per week.
  • Avoid salami, ham and other processed meat, which contain known carcinogens.

Your time on the road

Whether you commute or are frequently on the road for work, these tips will cut your exposure to potentially cancer-causing air pollution.

  • Drive with the windows up at all times.
  • Avoid freeways if driving time is otherwise the same on quieter side roads. Air pollution on freeways can be 10 times higher than on other roads.
  • Press the recirculate button on your car’s ventilation system. By recirculating air inside the car, you reduce the amount of in-car air pollution to just 20 percent of on-road pollution levels. In contrast, not recirculating the air exposes you to 80 percent of on-road air pollution.
  • Take public transit or carpool with others. This minimizes the number of vehicles that contribute to poor air quality.

Your workplace

Clear the air with houseplants

Spider plants, golden pothos, gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums are just a few of the plants that remove carcinogens from the air.

Stand up and move

If you have a desk job, make an effort to stand up, stretch and walk around every hour. Constant sitting increases your risk of cancer. On the flip side, 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every workday helps protect against cancer (so make time for that workout over lunch!).

Watch out for sugary office snacks

High-sugar diets may make us more likely to develop esophageal cancer. Plus, they increase the risk of diabetes and obesity, which also heighten cancer risk.