Lifestyle Changes Can Help in Cancer Prevention

Health Minute

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Cancer is a disease that can affect anyone – sometimes without warning. The most common types of cancer, according to the National Cancer InstituteOff Site Icon (NCI), are breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer and skin cancer.

As people age, their risk of cancer increases – most people with cancer are 55 or older, according to the American Cancer SocietyOff Site Icon (ACS). However, there are steps you can take to help decrease your risk of getting most types of the disease.

Making lifestyle changes in an effort to prevent cancer could be the difference of life and death, and those changes can be as simple as wearing sunscreen and getting recommended screenings. Lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOff Site Icon (CDC), include: 

  • Avoid tobacco and smoking – Smoking has been directly linked to lung cancer, which is a leading cause of cancer deaths. Smoking causes about 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and 80 percent in women. In addition to lung cancer, smoking can cause cancer of the larynx (voicebox), mouth, throat, esophagus, bladder, kidney, pancreas, cervix and stomach, and it also can cause acute myeloid leukemia. 
  • Early detection tests and screening – Risks of developing some cancers, such as colorectal and prostate cancers, increase with age, so talk with your doctor about what cancers would be appropriate for you to be screened for and at what ages.
  • Limit alcohol – Drinking regularly can increase the risk of getting mouth, larynx and throat cancers. A standard drink, such as a bottle of beer or malt liquor, equals about 14 grams of alcohol. Drinking about 50 grams of alcohol daily can double or triple your risk of getting these cancers, compared to nondrinkers. Excessive drinking has been found to be a risk factor for liver cancer, colorectal and breast cancer.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and weight – Being overweight or obese can raise your risk of developing endometrial (uterine), breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. If you are concerned about your weight, talk to your physician about a lifestyle change to help you lose weight and implement a healthier lifestyle.
  • Protect your skin – Skin cancer is a prevalent form of cancer that can be prevented by taking precautions in the sun. If you are outside, especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., it is best to find some shade, wear a hat and sunglasses, use sunscreen and wear clothing that covers your arms and legs. You should also avoid indoor tanning.
  • Self-exams – Self exams in between doctor visits are sometimes the best way to find a problem early. Your know your body best, and your doctor can help you learn how to do a self-exam for some cancers, including breast and prostate cancers, in which you feel for lumps. Your doctor can tell you other symptoms to look for that might be a sign of other types of cancer.

People choosing to take cancer prevention into their own hands have helped decrease the number of new cancer cases and have helped prevent many cancer deaths, according to the CDC

Learn more about lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent cancer, talk with your physician or find a physician.

It's easy to get the care you need.

See a Premier Physician Network provider near you.