Crucial Cancer Precautions
Simple Steps to Lower Risk
Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). You can take some simple steps to avoid the leading causes of certain cancers. Small modifications in your daily life can add up over time and make a big difference. It’s not easy to change, but it’s very worthwhile. Some common sense precautions include the following:
Get Screenings and Immunizations
Early detection methods for cancer can be life-saving. Your doctor can administer preventive screening tests for different types of cancer, such as skin, breast, colon, cervix, and prostate cancer. With early detection that can find a tumor when it’s small and hasn’t spread, the chance of successful treatment is much higher. You should also talk to your doctor about getting immunized against the viral infections hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV). Hepatitis B can increase your risk of liver cancer, and HPV can lead to cervical cancer.
Use Sun Protection
Use Sun Protection
To help avoid skin cancer, there are several daily changes you can make:
- Use sunscreen (at least SPF 15) or cover your skin when you’re outdoors—or stay in the shade.
- Hats and UPF-rated clothing can help protect you when you need to be in the sun for a long time.
- Avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10am and 4pm. The rays of the midday sun are the strongest.
- Don’t use sunlamps or tanning beds.
Eat a Balanced Diet
While dietary changes alone are not guaranteed to prevent cancer, experts believe that making the right choices at mealtime might help reduce your risk. Be sure that fruits and vegetables are an important part of your daily diet, as well as whole grains. Avoid high-fat foods, such as fatty cuts of meat and whole-fat dairy products, since being overweight or obese can increase your cancer risk.
Regular exercise and physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which in turn may play a role in lowering your cancer risk. The Mayo Clinic reports that physical activity may lower your risk for both breast cancer and colon cancer. Weight maintenance could also lower the risk of breast, prostate, colon, lung, and kidney cancers. You don’t need to be a champion athlete. Aim to incorporate 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine, at least five days a week.
Avoid Risky Behaviors
Certain behaviors can lead to infections that might increase your cancer risk. Behaviors that are considered “risky,” such as sharing needles and unsafe sexual practices, should be avoided. To practice safe sex, use a condom and limit your number of sexual partners.
Though it may seem obvious, avoiding tobacco can help you avoid cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, smoking is linked with a number of types of cancer, including lung, kidney, bladder, and cervical cancer. If you smoke cigarettes or cigars, or use chewing tobacco, it’s important to quit. Even if you’re not a smoker, be sure to make an effort to avoid secondhand smoke, which can increase your risk of lung cancer.
Watch Out For Wild Claims
It seems there’s a new claim every week for a food, supplement, or treatment that can help prevent cancer. Some may be legitimate but have not been fully studied for a long period of time. Some claims are bogus and should not be given any credibility. The American Cancer Society recommends that, when it comes to claims about cancer prevention, you should only trust reputable sources and find out how the method was tested scientifically. Use common sense and look at trusted sources before changing your behavior or trying the latest fad.
Small Steps Count
When it comes to reducing your risk of developing cancer, your everyday decisions count. There’s no way to eliminate your risk completely, but making positive lifestyle choices can improve your likelihood of having a healthy future. Small precautions—such as wearing sunscreen, maintaining a healthy weight, and not smoking—make a difference. Take these basic steps to help minimize the risk of cancer, and protect yourself and your family both now and in the future.
- Cancer Prevention: 7 Tips to Reduce Your Risk. (2012, December 12). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cancer-prevention/CA00024
- Facts About Sunscreen. (2006). American Melanoma Foundation. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://www.melanomafoundation.org/prevention/facts.htm
- Kushi, L.H. et al. (2012, January/February). American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 62(1), 30-67. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.3322/caac.20140/full
- Leading Causes of Death. (2013, January 11). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm
- Learning About New Ways to Prevent Cancer. (2012, September 4). American Cancer Society. Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/learningaboutnewcancerpreventionmethods/index
- World Health Organization – Initiative for Vaccine Research. (2005, January). Viral cancers. In State of the art of vaccine research and development (Chapter 8). Retrieved June 18, 2013, from http://www.who.int/vaccine_research/documents/Viral_Cancers.pdf