How Many Ways Do You Know To Lower Your Cancer Risk?

There are ways to reduce your exposure to behavior that may trigger cancer. Knowing how to handle certain types of exposure or behaviors would help. Below is a current summary of 10 Ways to Lower Your Cancer Risk.

Most people assume that cancer is genetic and cannot be avoided. That’s not necessarily true. Healthy behaviors could prevent fully half of all cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society.

There are 10 specific lifestyle changes you can make that will improve your odds of preventing cancer or catching it at its earliest, most curable stages, according to Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center cancer-prevention expert Dr. Anne McTiernan:

1. Don’t smoke or use any other tobacco products.
Tobacco increases the risk for many cancers. If you smoke, stop. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you’ve tried to quit before, don’t give up–eventually something will work.

2. Get screened for cancer regularly.
Several tests can find cancer at a very early stage, sometimes even before a growth has turned cancerous. Finding cancer early can greatly increase your chance for a cure and reduce your risk of dying from the disease.

Important screening includes:
•Colon: Starting at age 50, all people should have a colonoscopy (or even younger if at high risk). Typically the test is needed once every 10 years.
•Breast: Starting at age 40, all women should get an annual mammogram (or even younger if at high risk) and a breast exam performed by a clinician.
•Prostate: Starting at age 50 (or younger if at high risk), all men should have an annual physical exam (including a digital-rectal exam) and a blood test to check for blood levels of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, which when elevated can be an indication of prostate cancer.
•Cervix: Cervical-cancer screening (cervical sampling for Pap smear and human papillomavirus testing) should start as soon as a woman is sexually active and should continue throughout her life. The frequency depends on the woman’s risk and age.
•Skin: All adults should have a yearly skin exam by their primary care doctor. Those at high risk should have annual skin-cancer screening performed by a dermatologist. Persons at high risk for melanoma or other skin cancer should examine their own skin monthly.

3. Keep your alcohol consumption low.
This means no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Alcohol use increases risk for several cancers including those of the breast, esophagus, colon, pancreas, and head and neck.

4. Protect your skin from the sun.
Use sunscreen every time you go outdoors and preferably one with an SPF of 30 or higher that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Keep covered with a broad hat and sunglasses. Keep the amount of exposed skin to a minimum and limit time in the sun when it is the brightest.

5. Keep a physically active lifestyle.
Research suggests that exercising three to four hours per week at moderate or vigorous levels reduces the risk of several cancers by 30 percent to 50 percent. Activities like brisk walking, biking, dancing or any exercise that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat are beneficial.

6. Keep your weight in the normal range for your height.
That means keeping to a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or less. Try to stay within five to 10 pounds of what you weighed at age 18. The best way to avoid weight gain and avoid being overweight or obese is to eat a diet high in vegetables and fresh fruit and low in high-calorie foods like sugared drinks, refined carbohydrates and fatty foods.

7. Avoid taking menopausal hormone replacement therapy.
HRT increases the risk for breast, endometrial and possibly ovarian cancer.

8. Consider taking medications for reducing cancer risk.
If your doctor prescribes it, take medication to reduce your risk for cancer, such as tamoxifen and raloxifene for breast cancer and finasteride for prostate cancer.

9. Avoid exposure to cancer-causing substances.
Radiation exposure and some chemicals are known to cause cancer. Make sure that any physician who orders an X-ray for you, especially high-dose ones like CT scans, knows how many previous X-rays you have had. Limiting X-ray exposure is especially important for children and teens.

10. Eat a cancer-risk-reducing diet.
The role of diet in cancer is far from established, but research suggests that a plant-based diet is associated with reduced risks for several cancers, especially for colon cancer.

–From the Editors at Netscape

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