The American Cancer Society recommends taking control of your health and reducing your risk of cancer. One of the best ways to reduce your risk is to stay away from tobacco products. In the US, tobacco use is responsible for one in five deaths each year. It accounts for at least 30% of all cancer deaths, causing deaths from lung cancer at a rate of 85% in men and 70% in women. Also, consider that 3,400 non-smoking adults die of lung cancer as a result of breathing secondhand smoke each year. By avoiding tobacco products, you reduce your risk of cancer significantly.
Numerous research studies show a high correlation between cancer and obesity. An estimated one out of every three cancer deaths in the US is linked to excess body weight, poor nutrition, and/or physical inactivity. By getting to a healthy weight, you reduce your risk for certain cancers. This includes getting regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Limit your how much alcohol you drink (if you drink at all). Mouth, throat, larynx, esophageal, liver, colon, rectal, and breast cancers are all linked to heavy alcohol drinking. While the exact way alcohol affects cancer isn’t completely understood, there are several ways it can raise risk. For example, alcohol can act as an irritant and damage cells causing them to change, creating cancer cells. Alcohol also lowers the body’s ability to absorb folate, a vitamin essential to healthy cells. It also contributes to weight gain which, as discussed, increases the risk for cancer.
Protect your skin to avoid skin cancer. Wear sunscreen when going outdoors. Try staying in shaded areas. It is also helpful to wear protective clothing (i.e. a wide brimmed hat, long sleeved shirt, and pants).
Be sure to discuss any concerns you may have about cancer with your primary care physician. They can do a review of your health and determine if testing is needed.
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