7 Steps to Cancer Prevention

Courtesy of Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation (www.PreventCancer.org)

You can protect yourself against many diseases, including cancer, by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Take action to reduce your cancer risk with these seven simple steps.

1. Don’t use tobacco.

Tobacco use is deadly and causes cancers of the lung, throat, mouth and esophagus, in addition to causing heart disease, emphysema and many other smoking related health problems. More than 80 percent of all lung cancer is related to smoking, and non-smokers exposed to secondhand smoke are at risk for lung cancer and other respiratory problems.

Don't smoke cigarettes, cigars or pipes or use smokeless tobacco. If you do use tobacco, quit now! Keep children away from smokers. Help to create smoke-free public environments in your community.

2. Eat a variety of healthy foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables.

There is an increasing amount of evidence linking diet to cancer. Some research suggests that one-third of all cancers diagnosed every year may be related to what we eat. Reduce dietary fat intake, especially animal fat. Make your diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains.

3. Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.

Add exercise to your routine to reduce stress, control your weight and reduce your risk for cancer. Even moderate exercise at least three days week can make a big difference in your health and well being.

4. Protect your skin from the sun.

Always wear sunscreen of at least SPF 15 or more, even on hazy days, no matter your skin color. Overexposure to the sun is the cause of most skin cancers, including the most deadly type, melanoma. Most damage occurs in childhood and adolescence when skin cells within all layers are still developing. Be certain to protect your children’s skin as well as your own.

5. Avoid risky behavior: Practice safer sex and limit alcohol consumption.

Cervical cancer is linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV). Women with HPV – a sexually transmitted virus – are at an increased risk of getting cervical cancer. Beginning at age 18 or when they become sexually active, women should begin regular pelvic exams and Pap tests to detect pre-cancerous or abnormal changes in the cervix. Always use a barrier method of contraception, such as a condom. While condoms can't protect against HPV, they do protect against other sexually transmitted diseases.

Alcohol alone may play a role in 3 percent of cancer deaths. Alcohol and tobacco together can be a deadly combination. If you drink, limit your consumption to no more than two drinks a day.

6. Follow cancer-screening guidelines.

There are many tests that can help detect cancer early when it's easy to treat and that can detect abnormalities before they become cancer. Ask your health care professional which screening tests you should have and when. Find out if you are at higher risk for some cancers because of family history or your lifestyle. Talk with your health care professional about earlier or more frequent screening or if there are other steps you can take to protect yourself.

7. Get immunized.

Cancer prevention includes being immunized for certain types of cancer. Ask your doctor about such vaccines.