February is National Cancer Prevention Month. Every year approximately 1.7 million people are diagnosed with cancer in the US, and many of these cases may have been preventable. Cancer prevention is an action we all can take to reduce the risk of cancer and prevent recurrence in our community.
Here are a few tips that can help you reduce your risk
1. Exercise and Diet. It is estimated that a third of US cancer cases could be prevented through diet and exercise. By exercising and keeping a balanced diet you can reduce your risk for cancer. (Remember to take precautions when exercising outside. Always use sunscreen, wear a hat, and stay in the shade if possible.)
2. Quit smoking and reduce alcohol use. Research has proven that tobacco use puts users at risk for several cancers, not just lung cancer. Environmental tobacco smoke may also expose and increase the risk of developing cancer. In addition, alcohol use has also been linked to various cancers due to a chemical that has been shown to damage DNA and prohibits the body from making repairs, which may cause cells to grow out of control and create a cancerous tumor.
3. Avoid pollutants and chemicals such as asbestos, pesticides, and containers containing BPA. Additional things to be aware of our diesel exhaust, asphalt fumes, gasoline and even wood dust. Radon, which may be found within homes, may also cause cancer. It’s an odorless and tasteless gas that is released from the normal decay of certain elements. To keep your home safe, you can use a radon detector.
4. Get vaccinated! Not many cancers have vaccines; however there are some available with great success rates. One of the vaccines is for HPV (human papillomavirus) and the other is the vaccine for hepatitis B. Both have been proven safe and highly effective.
5. Don’t forget to get screened regularly. Routine screening can allow for early diagnosis, which is the next best thing to prevent and can help keep cancer from progressing.
Lastly, genetic testing can be an important way to prevent cancer, especially if cancer is believed to run in your family. It may help predict the risk of certain diseases and help you make proactive decisions on how to avoid or reduce the risk of cancer. Genetic testing can be done for breast, ovarian, colon, thyroid, prostate, pancreatic, melanoma, sarcoma, kidney and stomach cancers.
Whether you’ve never had cancer or are trying to avoid or reduce the risk of recurrence, making informed decisions in your everyday life can help lower your risk.
Information referenced in this post was courtesy of the following blogs, click below to read more detailed information about cancer prevention: