Smoking can cause at least 15 different types of cancer. And nearly 9 out of 10 lung cancers are from puffing away on cigarettes. Burn those two facts into your head if you haven’t yet quit. Then read on to learn what else affects your risk.

Your mom got cancer young

If your mother, father, or siblings were diagnosed at a younger-than-usual age (such as colon cancer before age 45), that’s a sign that it may be caused by an abnormal gene that you may have inherited. What you should know, though, is that even if a cancer-predisposing gene mutation is in a family, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone who has it will develop cancer. Overall, inherited mutations result in only about 5 to 10 percent of all cancers.

You like your steak well-done

And you love a little char on your chicken. But grilling or frying meats at the high temperatures you need to get to that “doneness” creates HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), chemicals that have been shown to cause changes in DNA that may increase cancer risk.

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You always sleep with the TV on

This cancer risk factor isn’t as well-studied as, say, smoking or excessive sun exposure, but it’s still worth mentioning. Studies suggest that exposing our bodies to artificial light at night increases risk for certain cancers, such as breast and prostate (which require hormones to grow), according to a paper in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

You also don’t walk enough

It’s probably the least complicated form of exercise, and you don’t even have to do it that much: aim for at least 30 minutes at a moderate pace, five or more days a week. Break up the recommended 30 into 10, 10, and 10, if that’s more manageable. Research has consistently shown that adults who increase their physical activity (either in intensity, duration, or frequency) can reduce their risk of developing colon cancer by up to 40 percent, compared to those who are sedentary.

You’re obese

That extra fat tissue does more than make your clothes not fit: It produces excess amounts of estrogen and other hormones that may stimulate cell growth and proliferation (the more often cells divide, the more opportunities cancer has to develop). Obesity may also cause chronic inflammation, which over time can damage DNA and is one of the things that cause cancer.


Which of the above causes you didn’t expect?

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