Can Cancer Be Prevented? 8 Tips to Reduce Your Risk.
Cancer is a complex disease and there is no surefire way to prevent it. However, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk.
Smart cancer prevention strategies include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, not smoking and getting regular check-ups and screenings. Some cancers can also be prevented or detected early through vaccination and screenings. Additionally, avoiding exposure to certain environmental toxins and chemicals can also reduce the risk of cancer.
What are the most preventable types of cancer?
Approximately 42 percent of all cancer cases in the United States are attributed to modifiable risk factors such as tobacco use, alcohol consumption, poor diet and physical inactivity and exposure to certain environmental toxins and chemicals.
Some types of cancer are more preventable than others. For example:
- Lung cancer: The most preventable type of cancer, as smoking is the main cause of lung cancer. Quitting smoking or not starting in the first place can greatly reduce the risk of lung cancer.
- Skin cancer: Sun exposure is the main cause of skin cancer. Using sunscreen, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding prolonged sun exposure can reduce the risk of skin cancer.
- Cervical cancer: Cervical cancer can be prevented through regular screenings and the HPV vaccine, which helps protect against the strains of HPV that cause cervical cancer.
- Colorectal cancer: Regular screenings can detect precancerous polyps, which can then be removed before they turn into cancer. Eating a healthy diet low in red and processed meats and high in fruits and vegetables can also help prevent colorectal cancer.
- Liver cancer: Preventable by avoiding exposure to certain toxins, such as alcohol and hepatitis B and C virus.
- Mouth cancer: Preventable by avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption, maintaining good oral hygiene and get regular oral cancer screenings.
Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable cancer deaths, accounting for about 30 percent of all cancer deaths. Alcohol consumption is also a major risk factor, responsible for about 4 percent of cancer deaths. Poor diet, physical inactivity and overweight or obesity are responsible for about 20 percent of cancer cases. Exposure to certain environmental toxins and chemicals, such as certain pesticides, can also contribute to the development of cancer.
What about screenings?
Screenings can detect certain cancers before symptoms appear, allowing for early treatment and intervention. For example, mammograms can detect breast cancer before a lump can be felt, and colonoscopies can detect colon cancer before symptoms occur.
Regular screenings can also help identify precancerous growths, such as polyps in the colon, which can be removed before they turn into cancer. Additionally, for some cancers, such as cervical cancer, regular screenings can detect abnormal cells before they turn into cancer, allowing for early treatment and intervention.
What are the most effective things I can do to reduce my risk?
There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of developing cancer:
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco products. If you do smoke or use tobacco, quitting is the best way to reduce your risk of cancer.
- Eat a healthy diet. A diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in red and processed meats can help reduce the risk of cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for many types of cancer.
- Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of cancer.
- Limit your alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol is a risk factor for certain types of cancer.
- Protect your skin from the sun. Reduce your risk of skin cancer by staying in the shade under an umbrella, tree, or other shelter. Your best bet to protect your skin is to use sunscreen or wear protective clothing when you’re outside — and get screened.
- Get regular check-ups and screenings. Regular check-ups and screenings can help detect cancer early, when it is more treatable.
- Vaccinate against certain cancers. Vaccines are available to protect against certain types of cancer, such as HPV and Hepatitis B
It’s important to note that not all cancer cases are preventable, even if you take all the preventive measures. However, these steps can greatly reduce your risk of developing cancer. Additionally, it’s always a good idea to discuss with your doctor about your individual risk factors and what preventive measures are best for you.
Are you a Brown & Toland member? You may have recently received a letter from us reminding you of your overdue screenings. Be sure to talk with your doctor about what tests and screenings you may need. Remember: Screenings are an important tool for preventing many conditions and detecting them early so you have the best chance for successful treatment.
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