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Experts believe that one-third to one-half of all cancers can be prevented.
That's because there are certain things about our lifestyles—our daily habits—that can make us more likely to get cancer. Here are some steps you can take today to help prevent cancer:
Your doctor may recommend other things based on your personal health history. For example, taking aspirin to prevent cancer may be a good idea for some people. But taking aspirin can have risks, too. So talk to your doctor about what cancer prevention tips are best for you.
When you quit smoking, you lower your chances of getting many types of cancer. Smoking makes you more likely to get cancers of the lung, bladder, kidneys, pancreas, cervix, mouth, esophagus, and throat.
Quitting is hard, but you can do it with the right amount of information and support. And there are several medicines that work well to help people quit for good. For information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
And for more help, see:
Eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes (for example, peas and beans), fish, poultry, and whole grains helps prevent cancer. Limit the amount of fat in your diet, especially animal fat.
Some scientists think certain supplements might help prevent cancer, but there isn't enough research yet to prove that. If you want to take supplements to prevent cancer, talk to your doctor about what is safe for you to take. Eating healthy foods is still the best way to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
For ideas and tips, see:
If you are very overweight, your chances of getting some forms of cancer are higher. And people whose extra fat is in the waist area may be at higher risk than people whose extra fat is in the hips or thighs.
Eating a healthy diet and being more active can help you reach a healthy weight. It can be hard to change habits around eating and being active. But you can do it by taking one step at a time. To learn how, see Getting to a Healthy Weight: Lifestyle Changes.
For more help making these changes, see:
Being active every day may prevent a number of cancers. And regular activity can help you get to and stay at a healthy weight, which can also help keep you from getting cancer.
Being physically active and getting enough sleep may work together to lower your cancer risk even more than activity alone, especially for women.
If you're not used to being active every day, think about taking small steps to change your habits. For more information, see:
For more ideas and tips, see:
Most skin cancer is caused by too much sun. Follow these steps to help prevent skin cancer:
For more information, see:
People who drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day—and especially those who drink more than 3 drinks a day—have a slightly higher risk for colon cancer.
If you're a woman, you may help prevent breast cancer by limiting yourself to 1 drink a day. Using alcohol leads to extra estrogen in the
body, which raises your breast cancer risk.
Practicing safer sex helps keep you from getting HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer in women. Safer sex includes using condoms and talking to every potential sex partner about his or her sexual history.
Visiting your doctor and dentist for regular checkups is good for your health. Your doctor can schedule regular screenings for various types of cancer, such as mammograms for breast cancer and colonoscopy for colon cancer.
Most screenings and checkups are to find cancer early, when it's easier to treat and may even be curable. But there are some things your doctor may recommend that can actually prevent certain cancers in the first place.
There are several types of screening tests for colon cancer. But only two of them can actually prevent cancer: colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy. These tests can find and remove polyps in the colon before they turn into cancer. For more information, see:
If you are age 26 or younger, you can get the HPV shot to protect against the virus that can cause cervical cancer. Three shots are given over 6 months. The series of shots is recommended for girls age 11 or 12 and can be given to females ages 9 to 26.
Males age 9 through 26 may also get the HPV shot (Gardasil) which may prevent anal cancer.
Living or working in unhealthy places can make you sick. Stay away from certain chemicals and other things in the environment that can increase your chances of getting cancer.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2012).
A Citizen's Guide to Radon: The Guide to Protecting Yourself and Your Family From Radon. Available online:http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html.
October 14, 2013
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Michael Seth Rabin, MD - Medical Oncology
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