February is National Cancer Prevention Month and in honor, we seek to educate about the dangers of certain behaviors that increase one’s risk of cancer. It’s no secret that advocacy makes a difference. In fact, in the US, many reductions in cancer morbidity were seen following the implementation of policy initiatives and pub.lic education.
While there are risk factors beyond our control, there are many controllable factors that we can adjust. Research has shown that more than 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed can be attributed to preventable, controllable causes. This month we examine tips that can help you prevent and avoid certain types of cancers!
1. Quit Smoking
Avoid tobacco at all costs. This includes secondhand smoke and chewing tobacco. If you are a smoker in need of resources, talk to your doctor about the different products on the market and come up with an action plan filled with strategies made to help you quit.
2. Drink in Moderation
Even small amounts of alcohol can increase your risk of certain cancers, so it’s important to limit your consumption as much as possible. If you decide to consume alcohol, try to stick to less than two drinks a day for men and one for women.
3. Maintain A Healthy Weight
It’s important to maintain a healthy weight by establishing a healthy diet and a regular exercise routine. Even just 30 minutes of physical activity every day can do wonders in preventing weight gain, which has been noted as a cause of many cancers over the last decade. Likewise, following a diet rich in whole grains, non-starchy vegetables, fruits, legumes, and lean meats is important. The same is true for the avoidance of processed foods that are high in fat.
4. Stay Sun Safe
Skin cancer, one of the most common kinds of cancer, is preventable. Stay out of the sun when it’s the hottest by finding shade when you can. Cover up with loose-fitting, bright-colored clothing and lather on sunscreen generously — even when it’s cloudy. Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps, which are just as damaging as natural sunlight!
5. Get Vaccinated
Cancer prevention begins with the prevention of certain viral infections. Vaccinations for Hepatitis B and Human papillomavirus prevent liver cancer and cervical cancer respectively. Ask your doctor about these vaccinations, your level of risk, and stay up to date
6. Avoid Risky Behaviors
Avoid risky behaviors like unprotected sex and the sharing of needles as these can lead to infections that increase the risk of cancer. Limit your number of sexual partners and use condoms to protect against sexually transmitted infections. If you’re concerned about drug misuse, seek help from a medical professional.
7. Make Regular Doctors Appointments
The best way to prevent cancer is to make regular doctor’s appointments. Regular exams and screenings are important to protect against cancers of the skin, colon, cervix, and breast. Treatment is more likely to be successful is you catch cancer early on, so it’s important to schedule your exams, especially if you are particularly at risk due to family history or lifestyle.
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