Wise investing depends heavily on risk management. That's what asset allocation is all about. And it's what objective thinking is all about, which can lower the risk of making foolish fear-based decisions during times of high market volatility (like right now!).

But risk management is even more important in other areas of our lives. That point stood out from a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO). The group is predicting a global "tidal wave" of cancer, with the number of new cases per year expected to jump from 14 million today to 24 million by 2035. Even more stunning is the organization's assessment that half of all cancer cases could be prevented.

To a great degree, our own health practices could help us avoid cancer. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) agrees, calling the level of naiveté about diet's role in cancer "alarming." Whereas many people believe cancer is largely an inherited disease, the group says only about 10% of cancer cases are due to a person's genes.

Of course, cancer isn't the only health problem that's often brought on by personal habits. So are obesity, cardiovascular disease, and more. In many cases, these maladies could be prevented through better eating habits, such as dialing back our intake of sugar.

Speaking From The Mirror, Not The Soapbox

A few years ago, my doctor expressed concern about my cholesterol levels and suggested I start taking a prescription drug. I hated that idea. So, I asked him to give me six months to see if I could turn things around. He was very skeptical, but agreed to give it a little more time.

Right away, I went from dabbling in running to running regularly. And, I made some changes in my diet. Six months later, my doctor was surprised at my progress and said he no longer saw a need for meds. Since then, I've continued running. I'm not fanatical and I'm not fast, but I have been pretty consistent. In 2010, my wife and I completed the Chicago half-marathon. I ran a second half-marathon in Louisville last fall, and am signed up for another this spring. I've found that committing to these events motivates me to run regularly, even on days when the weather's crummy or I just don't feel like it.

My family has made other changes as well. My wife has always been a stickler for making sure we eat our veggies. Watching the film Forks Over Knives made us both even more mindful of what we eat. We haven't gone completely seaweed and sprouts, but we rarely eat red meat. I still have a sweet tooth, and probably take too much comfort from reports about the benefits of dark chocolate. It's an area where I still have some improvements to make.

What About You?

Managing risk in our investment portfolio is important. But it would be sadly ironic to succeed in that area only to fail at managing our health risks and cut short our time with those we're investing to support. How well are you managing the risks in your "health portfolio?"