Cancer is a very scary word.
Hearing that you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer can be one of the most stressful times of your life. I know because my father was diagnosed with cancer last year. Fortunately, he is cancer free after surgery and treatments, but going through that experience has even further opened my eyes to the need for more cancer prevention and treatment resources.
April is National Cancer Control Month. While genetics plays a role in cancer development and progression, there are things we can all do to reduce our risk. The first is to get screened for cancers according to your doctor’s recommendations. This includes mammograms, pap smears, colonoscopies, skin cancer checks and others as recommended. It is important to follow these screening schedules as catching cancer early can lead to improved outcomes.
The second area we can focus on is prevention. According to the American Cancer Society, tobacco is responsible for one-third of cancer related deaths in the United States each year. If you smoke, look for resources from your physician or wellness coach about quitting.
What some may find surprising is that another third of cancer related deaths in the Unites States are linked to diet, physical inactivity and being overweight or obese. Some of the same lifestyle factors that increase our risk of diabetes and heart disease also increase our risk of cancer. Excess body weight can increase inflammation and growth factors in our body, which can play a role in cancer development. A poor diet and physical inactivity can also put your body at risk for many of the most common types of cancer including post-menopausal breast and colon cancers. Here are a few lifestyle tips to help lower your risk of certain cancers.
1. Get at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week
2. Maintain a healthy body weight
3. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and limited in processed meats and refined carbohydrates
4. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation
5. Be mindful about sun exposure
6. If you smoke, work on quitting
Please reach out to your Wellness Coach if you have any questions or would like more information about any of the tips listed above.
Michelle Riley, MHS, RD