The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) estimates that approximately one-third of cases of the most common cancers in the U.S. could be prevented, which accounts for about 374,000 cases of cancer per year. Cancer prevention is action taken to lower the chance of getting cancer therefore reducing the burden and deaths from cancer each year. Since February is Cancer Prevention Month, we wanted to highlight some ways to reduce your risk and protect yourself from cancer.
1. Eat a healthy diet & Stay active
Eating a balanced plant-based diet filled with a variety of vegetables, fruits, soy, nuts, whole grains, and beans can help lower your risk for many types of cancer and will help you maintain a healthy weight.
Adults should get et at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each day (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week. While children and teens are recommended to get at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity each week.
2. Protect yourself from the sun
Sun exposure at any age can cause skin cancer. Be especially careful in the sun if you burn easily, spend a lot of time outdoors, or have any of the following physical features:
- Numerous, irregular, or large moles
- Fair skin
- Blond, red, or light brown hair
To block UV rays try covering-up, wearing sunscreen, wearing a hat, using UV-absorbent shades, and limiting you exposure time.
3. Get immunized
The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine helps prevent most cervical cancers and several other kinds of cancer, and the hepatitis B vaccine can help lower liver cancer risk.
4. Avoid risky behavior
Another effective cancer prevention tactic is to avoid risky behaviors that can lead to infections that, in turn, might increase the risk of cancer. Some behaviors to avoid:
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Tanning beds
- Tobacco use
- Unsafe sex
- Sharing needles
5. Get regular medical care and screenings
Along with regular check-ups with your physician to maintain an open health dialogue, cancer screenings should also be scheduled. These include the following:
- Pap smear – Most women ages 21 to 65 should get Pap tests as part of routine health care. Even if you are not currently sexually active, you should still have a Pap test
- Colonoscopy – Colon cancer screening should begin at age 50 for most people. If a colonoscopy doesn’t find adenomas or cancer and you don’t have risk factors, the next test should be in ten years.
- Mammogram – Women should should get mammograms every year starting at age 40, for as long as a woman is in good health
- Checking skin for irregular moles, etc.