5 Ways You Can Reduce Your Cancer Risk

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Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. It is an unpredictable and, in certain cases, unavoidable disease, however there are some steps you can take to reduce your cancer risk. 

Here are five ways you can reduce your cancer risk:

Get Screened Regularly

Getting screened regularly can prevent early-stage cancers from spreading. Cancer screening checks your body for cancer before you even have symptoms. 

For certain types of cancer, such as cervical and colon cancer, these screens can prevent cancer from developing from the start. 

Cervical cancer and colon cancer: the Pap test can detect abnormal cells in the cervix which may turn to cancer. Screening tests for colon cancer can find precancerous abnormal growths (polyps) in the colon and rectum before they turn into cancer.

Breast cancer: you can start annual mammograms around the age of 40. If breast cancer runs in your family, talk to your doctor to see when you should have a baseline screening mammogram. 

Lung cancer: if you are between the ages of 50 and 80 and have a history of heavy smoking, the U.S  Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual lung cancer screening.

Avoid Tobacco

Quitting smoking can lower the risk for 12 types of cancer, including cancers of the lung, larynx, mouth, esophagus, bladder, throat, kidney, liver, pancreas, stomach, colon and rectum, and cervix, as well as acute myeloid leukemia. Smokeless tobacco, such as chewing tobacco, can increase your likelihood of developing cancers of the mouth, esophagus, and pancreas. 

Quitting tobacco can be difficult, but it’s possible. Along with lowering your risk of developing cancer, quitting tobacco also lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease. If you are struggling with quitting, visit cancer.org for tips on how to quit tobacco. 

Be Sun Safe

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer — and the most preventable. Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) lights. UV light is a type of electromagnetic radiation that comes from the sun and is transmitted in waves or particles at different wavelengths and frequencies. Too much exposure to UV radiation can be damaging to living tissue. 

There are many ways you can reduce your skin cancer risk. Some ways you can be sun safe are:

  • Stay out of the sun when UV rays are high (between 10AM-4PM)
  • Wear sunscreen (minimum SPF 15) whenever you leave your home
  • Wear a hat
  • Avoid tanning beds and tanning lamps

Ask About Vaccines

Certain vaccines can help lower cancer risk. You can talk to your healthcare provider about vaccination against:

Human papillomavirus (HPV): HPV is a common sexually transmitted virus that can lead to the development of cervical and other genital cancers. The HPV vaccine protects against the types of HPV that can cause these cancers. The HPV vaccine is recommended for everyone aged 11 to 12 years. 

Hepatitis B: Hepatitis B is a liver disease caused by the Hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV can increase your risk of developing liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for all age groups in order to prevent the risk of HBV infection. 

Live A Healthy Lifestyle 

Certain cancers can be prevented through healthier lifestyle choices, including a healthy diet and regular exercise. According to the American Cancer Society, at least 18% of all cancers and 16% of cancer deaths in the United States are related to excess body weight, poor diet, alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity. 

You can reduce your cancer risk by:

  • Keeping your weight within a healthy range
  • Incorporate 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine
  • Follow a healthy eating pattern: incorporate vegetables, fruits, legumes, fish, and whole grains. Limit or do not include red meat, processed foods, and sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Limit or avoid alcohol consumption

The Bottom Line

Talk to your healthcare provider about the steps you can take to reduce your cancer risk. With over 3,500 diagnostic tests available, Your Health Lab is built around what you need. From diagnosis to monitoring, our lab makes it easy for you and your doctor to take care of your health and reduce your cancer risk.

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