Cancer prevention doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. Start making these simple changes today.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 1/3 of cancers are preventable. If you’ve been watching television talk shows and so-called health experts tout new ways to prevent cancer, don’t rush out and spend money on the latest high-priced supplement extracted from plants in a remote jungle.
Here are eight, research-proven cancer prevention steps you can take to reduce your risks:
1. Tobacco use must stop.
It doesn’t matter if you smoke it of chew it, tobacco can cause cancer. Tobacco is implicated in as many as 22% of cancer deaths per year, and about 70% of lung cancers can be attributed to smoking alone. Other cancers that may be caused by tobacco use include cancers of the esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix.
Mercy offers smoking cessation programs to employees and the general public. Take advantage of these.
2. Get moving.
Regular exercise can considerably reduce cancer risk by helping to control weight.
Are you getting enough exercise? Test yourself here: How Much We Move
3. Eat well.
Diets rich in fruits and vegetables may protect against many cancers, as well as help control weight.
Not sure if your diet measures up? Take this quiz: How Healthy Is Your Diet?
4. Maintain a healthy weight.
Obesity is linked to increased risk of numerous cancers, including cancers of the colon/rectum, breast, uterus, and kidneys. Are you at a healthy weight? Get more information from the American Institute for Cancer Research's (AICR) helpful information on the importance of reducing weight.
5. Limit alcohol consumption.
Heavy drinking increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colon/rectum, and breast. If you are also a smoker, your risk is substantially increased.
6. Be safe in the sun.
Even in winter, the sun’s UV rays can be hazardous. Learn more at Be Safe in the Sun.
7. Be aware of infections.
Hepatitis infection causes increased risk for liver cancer, and HPV causes increased risk for cervical cancer. For some people, vaccinations may be appropriate for prevention of these.
8. Limit your exposure to known carcinogens.
For more information about environmental and occupational carcinogens, visit the American Cancer Society’s information hub on other carcinogens.
If You Can't Change Everything, Change One Thing
Perhaps you can’t change everything right now. But pick one thing and start on the path to a healthier you. If you are a tobacco user, quitting is the healthiest choice you can make. If you aren’t a smoker and want to increase your activity or lose weight, you may want to join a gym or health center like Mercy Health & Fitness Center and/or a physician-supervised weight-loss program like Mercy Weight Management.
If you want to know more, the cancer prevention section of the AICR website will provide you with recommendations, current research, tools and quizzes to help you assess your lifestyle.
The AICR is also sponsoring the New American Plate Challenge, a 12 week program that includes healthy meals made up of cancer-fighting foods. For more information on this program, visit New American Plate Challenge.
Remember, cancer prevention doesn't have to be complicated or expensive. I hope you'll start making some simple changes today.