Cancer is a topic that worries people around the world. More than ever, public awareness about cancer is increasing, and with that, we all want to know what we can do to help prevent cancer. While some causes of cancer are still unknown, or the cancer risk is genetic, there are certain lifestyle changes you can make to ensure you’re doing what you need to be as healthy as you can. Here are five easy things you can do to help prevent cancer:
1. Don’t Smoke or Use Tobacco
According to the American Cancer Society, about 480,000 people in the United States die from illness related to the use of tobacco. Although this is an obvious lifestyle choice you can make to prevent cancer, there are still many people who smoke and use tobacco. Smoking not only is a known cause of lung cancer, but can also contribute to cancers of the stomach, voice box, pancreas, head and neck, colorectum, and more.
2. Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
Your diet can play a large role in your cancer risk. Obesity is linked to many cancers, such as breast, colorectum, esophagus, kidney, and more. To be healthy, aim to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables each day, pick whole grains, limit red and processed meat, and decrease the amount of unhealthy fats in your diet.
3. Wear Sunscreen and Protect Your Skin From the Sun
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and one that can absolutely be prevented. Regardless of the season or weather, you should always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. You can also protect your skin by dressing for safety in the sun, such as wearing a hat, long sleeves, sunglasses, and more.
4. Exercise Regularly
After a long day, it may be hard to hit the gym. However, any kind of regular exercise can help reduce your risk of getting breast, colon, endometrium, or advanced prostate cancer. Adults should aim to exercise at a moderate intensity for 150 minutes each week. Or, you can choose to complete a higher intensity workout at 75 minutes per week. You should also limit the amount of time you sit or lay down. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park in a space farther away from the door, and walk to ask your colleague a question rather than sending an email.
5. Visit Your Doctor Regularly
You know to go to the doctor when you’re not feeling well, but are you dedicated to your yearly check-ups? If not, you should be! Whether through routine screening tests, or checking in on symptoms that don’t seem like they would cause much concern, visiting your doctor regularly can help catch cancer early. And, for most cancers, earlier detection is key in successful treatment. In addition, your family history may prompt your doctor to start monitoring aspects of your health at an earlier stage, or suggest you undergo certain screenings for cancer.
Following these five, easy steps will not only help reduce your chance of getting cancer, but they will make you a healthier person overall! If you have any concerns about your cancer risk, or if you have symptoms that are worrisome, contact your doctor. He/she will be the best to help you determine specific ways to decrease your risk of cancer.
Learn more about the latest developments and research about cancer. Visit the UPMC CancerCenter online.