You’ve heard it, and probably have said it yourself before – new year, new you! After the holiday season wraps up, people around the world start thinking about what they want to improve about themselves over the next year. Whether it’s eating healthier, being nicer, giving back to the community, or more – there is always something we can do to be a better person inside and out.
A popular resolution is to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Although undertaken by many, this kind of New Year Resolution is an important one and can help prevent cancer. By eating the right foods, kicking bad habits, and getting exercise, you can reduce your risk of developing diseases and illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. Looking for a resolution for 2015? Here are five examples that can help prevent cancer:
Eat a well-balanced diet
At one point in your life, you’ve probably looked at your diet and thought ‘I should eat healthier.’ You’re right. Food is our fuel – it is what keeps us going and what we are made of. According to the American Cancer Society, poor diet, which can lead to becoming overweight, is one of two key factors that increase one’s risk for developing cancer, along with other chronic diseases. Watching portion sizes and limiting foods high in fat, calories, and sugar, along with regular exercise can help control your weight. Be sure to eat a well-balanced diet including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Another key factor that increases your risk for developing cancer is not exercising. Adding more exercise to your routine is a common New Year Resolution, and cancer prevention is even more a reason to follow through. Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight. If you aren’t physically active, start at a slow pace and work your way up to getting at least two and a half hours of activity through the week.
Stop smoking/using tobacco
This is not a new fact, but a very important one– smoking and using tobacco causes cancer. Not only has smoking been linked to lung cancer, but smoking and using tobacco also increases your risk of developing cancers of the esophagus, throat, nasal cavity, pancreas, stomach, cervix, and more. It also is known to cause lung and heart diseases. By quitting smoking, you can reduce your risk of cancer significantly. If you need help, there are many smoking cessation programs that can get you started.
Get regular screening tests
Regular screenings help in early detection, prevention, and treatment of cancer. There are many different kinds of screening tests, including a physical exam, lab tests, imaging procedures, and genetic tests. Screening tests include mammograms for breast cancer, colonoscopies for colorectal cancer, pap smears for cervical and uterine cancers, and more.
Learn more about cancer screenings. You should talk to your doctor to see what screenings are appropriate for you.
Encourage your family and friends to do the same
Maybe you already live a healthy lifestyle and try to incorporate the above resolutions into your everyday life, but do your friends and family? By encouraging your loved ones, you can help keep them healthy and decrease their risk of cancer. Maybe your husband smokes, so encourage him to quit and be there for him when it gets tough. Or maybe your mother hasn’t been to the doctor for her check-up and mammogram – make the appointment and offer to take her. If you have a friend who is struggling to lose weight, get on a schedule and go to the gym and keep track of your food with him/her and. Not only will you help your loved ones meet their goals, you’ll stay healthy, too!
If you are seeking additional advice on cancer prevention, UPMC CancerCenter Prevention and Early Detection Services is located on the ground floor of Hillman Cancer Center. Many services are part of ongoing research projects and are free of charge. In addition to health assessments and cancer screenings, other services include smoking cessation services and weight management and exercise counseling. Visit us online to learn more details about the services offered, or call us at 412-623-5900.