6 ways to reduce your risk of cancer
More than 500,000 people die from cancer each year, but experts estimate that half of these deaths could be prevented if specific lifestyle changes are implemented. The 2014 Cancer Progress Report outlines six ways to reduce your risk of getting cancer:
- Eliminate tobacco. While tobacco use often causes lung cancer, it also increases the risk for developing 17 other types of cancers. Nearly 30 percent of cancers are caused by tobacco.
- Eat a healthy diet. One-third of cancer cases are related to being overweight, obese, inactive or a poor eater. “Follow the American Cancer Society’s dietary recommendation to eat a diet that is high in protein, low in fat, with lots of green vegetables and a limited amount of red meat,” says Dr. Fariborze Barhamand, an oncologist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill. “A well-balanced diet is good for you and cuts the risk for obesity and cardiovascular disease. It’s an added bonus that it reduces your risk of developing cancer.”
- Get screened regularly. Dr. Barhamand encourages women to get their annual mammogram and to perform breast self-exams. In addition, women should receive pelvic exams and pap smears as they are the gold standard for detecting cervical cancer.
- Use preventative medicines and vaccines. Several types of cancer are caused by viruses such as the Human Papillomavirus (HPV). An estimated 50,000 cases of cervical cancer and thousands of other cases of cancers could be prevented if 80 percent of those for whom the HPV vaccine is recommended were vaccinated, according to the President’s Cancer Panel 2012-2013 Report.
- Increase physical activity. Half of adults do not meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendations for physical activity. These recommendations include 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week along with moderate or high intensity muscle strengthening activities two days per week.
- Reduce sun exposure. 85 percent of melanomas are a result of sun exposure but daily use of sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher can cut the risk of developing melanoma in half.
By incorporating these changes you can put yourself on a path to a healthier life and drastically reduce your risk for cancer.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.