There's a theory in science fiction, but now also in radical physics, that every choice you make takes you down a different future, and that the timeline breaks down between alternate universes, where you don't buy that red sweater, or you miss that plane that goes down and you continue to live, all universes continuing in parallel with slightly different versions of you, until after a few years, the you in one of the universes is totally different from the you that constantly made different choices in another nearly diametrically different universe.
But as it would take the eternity to test this hypothesis (plus 15 minutes if you tend to be late for your meetings), let's come back to the lifestyle choices one makes and their connection to future occurrences of cancer.
Smoking is an easy target.
Tobacco smoke is made up of more than 7,000 chemicals, including over 70 known to cause cancer (carcinogens). Some of the chemicals found in tobacco smoke include:
Nicotine (the addictive drug that produces the effect people are looking for and one of the harshest chemicals in tobacco smoke)
Methanol (wood alcohol)
Acetylene (the fuel used in welding torches)
The poison gases carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide
Polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons
Not starting to smoke is your best bet for avoiding lung cancer, although air pollution in some cities can be worse than smoking, and in countries where smoking is still permitted in public places, staying a couple of nights in a car or a disco can be the equivalent of a week's cigarette use.
The befits of stopping are clearly explained here: http://www.cancer.org/healthy/stayawayfromtobacco/benefits-of-quitting-smoking-over-time
But there are other lifestyle choices that increase your risk of one or more types of cancers:
Alcohol use or abuse
Physical activity (or lack of)
Sun exposure, and UV exposure
Without going in detail about each of them, which you an find explained in plain language on the cancer.org and other national cancer societies' sites, it should be clear that unhealthy food, junk food and overly fatty, salty and processed foods are increasing the risks for a number of cancers, in particular colon cancer, but also liver cancer, to cite just a few serious ones.
This is compounded by alcohol abuse, in particular binge drinking, where you drink only twice a week, but in huge quantities that the liver and other organs fail to deal with due to the time/quantity ratio.
Not moving from your office chair during the day, not even walking that much during the day, not going for a run or a swim during the week is also going to add to the risk factors.
And of course, the now rising prevalence of skin melanoma, in particular in southern hemisphere countries such as Australia is worrying, and while the sun has many positive benefits, such as vitamin D, one should not forget UV protective creams, or risk a melanoma later on.
So, there are many small lifestyle decisions, or choices, that are consciously or unconsciously done each day, that can be cancer-neutral, or protect against cancer, or worse, seriously increase your risk of developing a cancer in the years to come.
Tomorrow starts today...