What Can You Do to Prevent Cancer?
February is National Cancer Prevention Month and we want to make sure that patients are prepared with the information they need to live their healthiest lives with the knowledge and resources necessary to help prevent cancer.
During National Cancer Prevention Month, cancer prevention advocates work to educate the public on how they can reduce their risk for cancer and how individuals, families, and communities can engage in healthy behaviors to improve their overall wellbeing. We encourage patients to play an active role during National Cancer Prevention Month and protect your health by following these guidelines:
There is no such thing as safe levels of tobacco. This includes traditional cigarettes and chewing tobacco. It has been linked to lung, colorectal, breast, throat, cervix, bladder, mouth, and esophageal cancers.2 Further, studies are linking smokeless tobacco products such as e-cigarettes to harmful chemicals. These products are not currently regulated and further research is needed to determine their impact on public health.3
Did you know that eating lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans has been linked to lower risk of different types of cancer? AICR found a convincing scientific link between red and processed meats and colon cancer, so it’s a good idea to limit red meat to 18 ounces per week and avoid processed meats.4
A general guideline for optimal health and wellbeing is physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day most days of the week. This doesn’t have to include a gym membership. You can go for a walk or jog, play with your children, run errands by foot, complete a workout video, or dance in your bedroom. Exercise can have numerous benefits including lowered stress, a boost in your immune system, weight control, and a reduced risk for cancer.2
Aiming and maintaining a healthy weight throughout life not only helps you to stay healthy by lowering your risk of developing health problems, but also gives you more energy to enjoy life. According to AICR, carrying excess weight has been linked to six different types of cancer.5
Cancer screening saves lives. Talk to your healthcare professional about screening guidelines and what is right for you based on your age, gender, health and family history, and risk behaviors.
Just like tobacco, there is no safe exposure to sun. Skin cancer is the most common, yet preventable, cancer in the United States. Make sure to use sunscreen and protective clothing whenever you are outside…even when it’s cloudy!
Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to your personal health history. If your blood relatives (grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and siblings in particular) have had cancer, it’s critical that you know what kind, what stage, when they had it, how it was treated, and long they survived. This information can be vital as you seek to determine your own cancer risk.
Cancer is the leading cause of death around the world. However, research shows that only five to ten percent of cancers are hereditary. Meanwhile, nearly 1/3 of cases of most common cancers in the United States are preventable, in many cases through lifestyle modifications. If everyone followed the guidelines above, an estimated of 374,000 cases per year of cancer in the United States could be prevented. 1
Cancer prevention and health behaviors shouldn’t be limited to one month per year, but we hope that you use this opportunity to assess your health and make good decisions for you and your family.
For more information on cancer prevention visit:
- Prevent Cancer Foundation
- American Institute for Cancer Research
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1 http://www.aicr.org/cancer-prevention-month/?referrer=https://www.google.com/ 2 http://preventcancer.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/Guide-to-Preventable-Cancers.pdf 3 http://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/smoking-facts/e-cigarettes-and-lung-health.html 4 http://www.aicr.org/research/research_science_expert_report.html?referrer=http://cancer.northwestern.edu/topic_of_month/15/feb.cfm 5 http://preventcancer.aicr.org/site/News2?id=14377