As a parent, you would do anything to prevent your child from getting a serious disease, like cancer. But you may not realize daily healthy habits that start in early childhood can affect a child’s future cancer risk.
The fact is, as a parent, you have tremendous influence on your child’s lifestyle choices.
Experts say lifestyle choices are among the most important cancer risk factors. Establishing healthy habits early and maintaining them throughout life provides your child with the biggest bang for reducing his or her cancer risk.
Here are six tips to help keep your child cancer free.
- Set an example
When it comes to kids, actions often speak louder than words. Incorporating healthful habits into your personal and family routines are the best way to establish lifelong healthy behavior, according to a Michigan State University study.
Mothers who set an example early for their children by eating a variety of healthful foods with an emphasis on plant sources — fruits, vegetables and grains — have kids who also eat healthier diets. Research shows a poor diet can dramatically increase the risk of many cancer types as well as many other chronic diseases, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Encourage a physically active lifestyle for your children and adolescents by combining exercise and family time with activities such as biking, hiking, skating and walking around the neighborhood or going for a swim.
Research shows being active helps reduce your cancer risk by helping with weight control. It also helps improve hormone levels and the way your immune system works.
The American Cancer Society recommends kids get at least 60 minutes of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with vigorous intensity activity occurring at least 3 days each week.
- Kick the Habit
University of Washington research shows kids whose parents smoke are twice as likely to start smoking on a daily basis before age 21 than kids with nonsmoking parents.