Cancer can be a frightening disease, but if you and your loved ones take simple precautions, you will both reduce your risk of cancer and increase detection of early signs of cancer. Treatment for cancer is most effective when detected early, which means it is important for you to pay attention to changes in your health and body. Recommended changes in behavior are simple, but are most effective when implemented regularly.
What are some of the basic lifestyle changes your can make to reduce your risk of cancer?
- Avoid smoking and tobacco use. This is an obvious one, but still important, as smoking and tobacco use result in almost 30 percent of all cancer deaths.
- The food we consume influences more than the numbers on our scales, it also affects the likelihood of prostate and colon cancers. High fiber intake especially reduces the risk of colon cancer.
- Even if you do not lose weight, regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of colon, prostate, breast, and reproductive cancers.
- Limit alcohol intake. If you are a regular drinker, stick to one-to-two drinks per day. Excessive drinking can increase likelihood of mouth, larynx, esophageal, liver, and colon cancers. Women who drink excessively are also more vulnerable to breast cancer.
- Regular medical care. In addition to regular screenings with your physician, regular self-examination increases the chances of early discovery and, therefore, introduction of treatment.
- Skin protection. Skin cancer may be one of the most common kinds of cancer, but it is also one of the most preventable. Regular use of sunscreen combined with avoidance of tanning beds and/or sunlamps has been proven to reduce the likelihood of skin cancer.
As is true with most areas of individual health, your active participation in cancer prevention is critical. If you see or feel a change in your physical health, do not panic, but do schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. Even if it results in being a minor issue, you will be relieved to know that you took the necessary steps to prevent and detect cancer.