Even if your family medical history puts you at high risk for developing a disease, the environment you live in and the choices you make will largely determine your fate. With healthy living, you can reduce if not neutralize some genetic risk factors.
Several key environmental factors can affect your risk for developing disease. The leading preventable cause of death in the United States is smoking, closely followed by obesity. Avoiding tobacco and maintaining a healthy body weight will greatly reduce your risk of developing diseases such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.
Foods That Fuel The Body
The body uses three dietary fuels: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each provides energy (calories) the body needs to keep it running smoothly. Most foods contain a combination of all three fuels. But compared to carbs and proteins, dietary fats provide double the amount of energy.
Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight
It's important to eat just the right amount of calories to meet your body's needs for energy. If you eat more calories than you can use, the body will store the extra calories as fatregardless of whether the calories come in the form of fat, carbs, or protein. If you accumulate too much stored fat, you can become obese. To help maintain a healthy weight, you can choose nutritious foods and be physically active.
It Takes A Village To Raise a BMI
It's not just your personal choices that affect your environmental risk. Research shows that the neighborhood you live in can also significantly impact your health, including your likelihood of being overweight.
People are more likely to spend time walking when they live in a safe, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with tree-lined streets. And people are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables when they can find them at their neighborhood grocery store.
Reasons To Avoid Tobacco
Tobacco contains a chemical called nicotine that is very addicting. Once you start smoking or chewing tobacco, it's very difficult to stop.
Tobacco contains chemicals that can mutate the DNA in your lung cells, causing them to become cancerous. In fact, smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, and it increases your risk of developing other cancers as well.
Smoking affects more than just your lungs; your heart suffers too. Nicotine narrows blood vessels and decreases the amount of "good" cholesterol in the blood, leading to high blood pressure and heart disease.
On average, adults who smoke cigarettes die 13-14 years earlier than nonsmokers. Approximately 440,000 Americans die each year from diseases directly related to tobacco use.
Known or Probable
Cancer Causing Chemicals in Cigarettes
|Benzo[j]fluoranthene||Urethane (Ethyl Carbamate)|
Heavy air pollution has a negative impact on health. Pollution increases the severity of asthma, and it can make it harder to recover from respiratory infections. It increases the risk for heart and lung diseases, including cancer. According to the World Health Organization, outdoor air pollution causes an estimated 1.3 million deaths in cities around the world.
Air quality standards are established and regulated by governments, but we all influence the quality of the air we breathe. We can help by choosing less-polluting transportation options and cutting down on our energy use. Even small things make a difference, like turning the car engine off instead of letting it idle.