Tips to reduce your cancer risk

Tips to reduce your cancer risk

05.01.14
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Talk to your doctor about screenings

Cancer screenings can help find cancer early, before symptoms appear and when the chances of successful treatment are most optimal. The American Cancer Society recommends: cervical cancer screenings (Pap tests) beginning at age 21 and repeated every three years; yearly mammograms for women starting at age 40; and colorectal cancer screenings, commonly colonoscopies, starting at age 50. Men should begin discussing prostate cancer screenings with their doctors at age 50. Based on your family and personal health history, some screenings may be done at an earlier age.

Be smart in the sun

Skin cancer is the most common cancer, with more than two million new cases each year. Not only is it wise to avoid indoor tanning beds, it’s also recommended to seek shade when you’re outside, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 every day, year-round, and use one with an SPF of at least 30 if you are planning extended outdoor activities. Wear layers of clothing and headwear that cover your skin. Check your skin every month for new growths or changes, and visit your primary care doctor or dermatologist every year for an exam.

Prioritize regular exercise

Being active has many benefits, from improving joint, muscle, bone and heart health to contributing to psychological health. There is also evidence that physical activity is associated with reduced risk of colon and breast cancers, and is linked to reduced rates of prostate, lung and endometrial cancers. The American Cancer Society recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week — which translates to 50 minutes, three days per week or 30 minutes five days per week. You could also exercise for 10 minutes, three times a day if it fits into your schedule better than 30 consecutive minutes does.

Nourish your body with food

Not only can a healthy diet help you lose weight, it can provide the vitamins and nutrients you need to be at your most vibrant. Certain foods even have cancer-fighting capabilities. These cancer-fighting superfoods include yogurt, garlic, whole grains, legumes, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and kale. When cooking at home, prioritize freshness and flavor over fatty and processed foods, and try to control portion sizes. When eating out, share entrees with a friend and order healthy sides like steamed veggies and salads. 

Strive for a healthy body weight

Being overweight or obese is linked with an increased risk of cancer of the breast, colon, rectum, endometrium, esophagus, kidney and pancreas. It may also raise the risk of aggressive forms of prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and cancers of the gallbladder, liver, cervix and ovary. A combination of healthy eating and exercise can help take off weight — and help you look and feel better, too!

Steer clear of tobacco products

Tobacco use is to blame for almost 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S., so one of the most important ways you can reduce your cancer risk is to steer clear of tobacco products, including cigarettes and chewing tobacco. This also means avoiding second-hand smoke, especially indoors. If you are trying to quit, smoking cessation specialists recommend attacking the addiction from multiple angles, including counseling, medication, and social support. 

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