Published: February 14, 2013
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Did you know that there are steps you can take now to reduce your cancer risk for years to come?
While some risk factors for cancer, such as aging and genetics, cannot be altered, there are behavioral habits that you can change to lessen your likelihood for developing this disease.
The single most important thing that a person can do to reduce their cancer risk is to avoid tobacco use. The use of cigarettes, pipes, cigars and chewing tobacco are linked to many different types of cancer, including cancers of the lung, throat, pancreas, kidney, bladder, cervix, prostate, colon and rectum. Although quitting can be difficult for a number of reasons, there are many resources available to help guide you through the process. Visit the Tobacco Cessation Resources page on the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute website at www.cancernepa.org/TobaccoResources.asp for a few links that may help you.
Remaining active through regular exercise is another way that you can reduce your cancer risk. When starting an exercise program, it is a good idea to consult your healthcare provider, choose activities that you enjoy and start slowly before gradually increasing your regimen. Introducing regular exercise to your lifestyle also has numerous benefits beyond reducing cancer risk and can help you sleep better, increase energy, lose weight, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and improve self-esteem.
Maintaining a healthy diet is another behavior that has numerous benefits, including reducing cancer risk. Plant-based foods are especially important to include in your diet as they are associated with reducing the risk of colorectal cancer and reducing obesity, which is a risk factor linked to some cancers. Other good tips include: make half your grains whole, choose protein that is lean and eat a wide variety of vegetables. You should also limit your intake of food that is high in fat, empty calories and salt. If you choose to consume alcohol, you should do so only in moderation. Alcohol use has been shown to increase the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, pharynx and liver.
Another factor that is important to pay attention to in regards to cancer risk is sun exposure. In fact, by taking proper precautions, skin cancer can be prevented altogether. As often as possible, you should avoid direct sun exposure, especially from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wearing sunglasses and sunscreen should also be a part of your regular protective measures. Artificial tanning devices should be avoided. In addition to these steps, you should perform regular self skin exams to check for possible signs of skin cancer. To learn more about what to look for, call the Cancer Institute at 1 (800) 424-6724 or email email@example.com for a free brochure. Skin cancer is highly curable if it is caught early, so it is important to check yourself often.
Implementing all of these lifestyle changes at once could certainly seem overwhelming, so try starting with small changes and then accepting more as time goes on. Remember that each of the tips mentioned above not only help reduce cancer risk, but have numerous other health benefits as well. In addition to these preventative measures, it is also important to stay up-to-date with all recommended cancer screenings. Talk to your doctor to find out what ones apply to you. Please contact the Cancer Institute if you would like additional information on reducing your cancer risk.
The Northeast Regional Cancer Institute is a nonprofit, community-based agency working to ease the burden of cancer in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Focusing on community and patient services, hospital and practice support services, and survivorship, 100 percent of Cancer Institute resources are invested in this region. For more information about the Cancer Institute, visit www.cancernepa.org or call (800) 424-6724.