How to do your part to not get cancer

January 06, 2016 | by Joseph Kash, MD

So it seems all this talk about being healthy driven has merit. Research suggests at least one-third of all cancers could be prevented, mainly by making lifestyle changes.

Of course there are some people with unhealthy habits who never get cancer, and seemingly healthy people who receive the diagnosis.

While there are many things about cancer that are out of our control, what about that one-third? You have the power to reduce your risk of getting cancer by living healthier. Here’s how:

  • Don’t smoke and keep your home smoke-free. Tobacco use is the single largest preventable cause of cancer. And it’s not just lung cancer, smoking causes oral, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreatic, stomach and cervical cancer. Nonsmokers beware, as secondhand smoke is a risk factor too.
  • Limit alcohol. Heavy alcohol use increases the risk of many different cancers, including liver, throat, oral, breast and colorectal cancers.
  • Eat healthy. Eat a variety of plant-based foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, which protect against many cancers. Choose whole grains and beans. Stay away from processed meats, saturated fats and sugary drinks. Learn more about an anti-cancer diet.
  • Keep your weight in check. Obesity is linked to a higher risk of many types of cancer, including esophageal, breast, colorectal, endometrial, pancreatic and kidney cancers. Maintain a healthy weight to reduce cancer risk. Get weight loss help.
  • Get moving. Regular physical activity in any form helps to lower cancer risk. Add activity into your daily schedule and build on it. Take the stairs, park farther away, go for a walk — just keep moving. Explore fitness and wellness resources.
  • Be safe in the sun. Protect your skin from the sun with sunscreen and protective clothing, and get regular screenings by a dermatologist.
  • Get vaccinated. One-fifth of cancers worldwide are caused by chronic infection. Immunizations, such as the hepatitis B vaccine and the HPV vaccine, help to reduce the risk of some cancers.
  • Get screened. Some cancers have warning signs and symptoms, so pay attention to your body for any new changes. Screenings are an important preventative measure to detect the disease early. Ask your doctor about the right physicals and screenings for you.

How will you live healthier in 2016? Share your thoughts with us in the below comments!

Take a quick, 5-minute test to assess your health risks.

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