There are some things in life that we cannot control. However, much of what we know about cancer prevention shows that our choices can make a big difference in our risk of developing cancer. Consider the following cancer prevention strategies.
Schedule regular medical visits
Seeing your primary care physician regularly is the first step to ensuring that you develop a schedule of screenings based on factors such as age, gender and family history and other risk factors. Routine screenings for various types of cancer can increase the chance of finding the cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Ask your doctor about the best cancer screening schedule for you. CentraState offers screening programs for — such as pancreatic cancer, skin cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and breast cancer.
If you use tobacco, quit.
Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke has been linked to numerous cancers, including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Chewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. If you need help quitting, CentraState has a smoking cessation program that can help.
Eat a healthy diet and lose weight if needed
Maintaining a healthy weight might lower the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney.
- Eat a regular variety of vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains and other plant-based foods. They contain high amounts of fiber and essential nutrients which strengthen your immune system’s ability to fight off cancerous cells.
- Cut back on sugary drinks, processed foods, and salty foods. Drink a lot of water. Choosing healthy foods and drinks instead of those high in refined carbohydrates and added sugar and fat can help avoid weight gain, and thereby reduce your cancer risk.
- Limit red meats (beef, pork and lamb) and processed meats (ham, bacon, hot dogs or sausage). There’s nothing wrong with an occasional hamburger or hot dog, just don’t overdo it.
- If you choose to drink alcohol, limit your consumption. The risk of various types of cancer can increase with the amount of alcohol you drink.
Protect your skin from the sun
Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer — and one of the most preventable. Wear sunscreen every day on exposed areas of skin and avoid tanning beds. Read about other skin cancer prevention tips.
Be Physically Active
Physical activity on its own might lower the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer. Adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits. But for substantial health benefits, strive to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity. You can also do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine — and if you can do more, even better.
Stay up to date on vaccines
Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Talk to your doctor about vaccination against Hepatitis B, which can increase the risk of developing liver cancer and Human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical and other genital cancers as well as squamous cell cancers of the head and neck.
About 5% – 10% of cancers are hereditary or passed down within a family. If a family member has ever received a cancer diagnosis, it’s natural to wonder if you are at risk as well. Genetic testing offers a science-based approach to screen your risk for an inherited disease. It can help you and your doctors better understand your risk for cancer and, if needed, monitor you through regular screenings, which helps catch cancer early when it’s most treatable. So be sure to speak to your doctor or cancer specialist about any family history of cancer to determine if genetic testing can be a beneficial addition to your cancer prevention strategy.
For more information or to receive a referral, please call the Cancer Navigator at 732 294-4994 or the Statesir Cancer Center at 732-303-5042.