February was National Cancer Prevention Month. According to the American Association for Cancer Research, more than 40 percent of cancers in the U.S. can be attributed to preventable causes. There is no better time to start taking the following steps to protect your health for the long haul. Drastically reduce your risk of developing cancer with these 10 tips from SIU Medicine.
- Don’t Use Tobacco and Avoid Secondhand Smoke
Smoking is the number one preventable cause of both cancer and cancer-related deaths. Besides lung cancers, this bad habit is linked to 17 other types of cancers. Cigarettes, cigars and pipes are all cancer-causing culprits. Smokeless tobacco products, cigars, and pipe tobacco are harmful too. If you use tobacco, quit. Also, avoid secondhand smoke when possible. Rent smoke-free rooms at hotels. And don’t let anyone smoke in your automobile or home.
- Limit Alcohol
Drinking alcohol can raise your risk of certain types of cancers including colon, liver, mouth and throat, stomach, breast, and esophageal. If you drink alcohol at all, limit your intake.
- Protect Yourself from the Sun
Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer. Remain in the shade and cover exposed areas of skin. Don’t forget to wear a hat and sunglasses. Slather on the sunscreen. Use a broad-spectrum one with an SPF of at least 30. Don’t use sunlamps and tanning beds. They cause just as much harm as natural sunlight.
- Eat a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet can help reduce your cancer risk. At mealtime, fill your plate with plant-based foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables, hearty whole grains and filling beans. Limit your consumption of processed meats. Replace butter with olive oil in your recipes. When the munchies strike, swap heavily processed potato chips or candy with satisfying nuts.
- Maintain a Healthy Weight
Obesity is associated with some of the most deadly forms of cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk for breast, lung, kidney, pancreatic, colon and prostate cancer.
- Stay Active
Besides helping you maintain a healthy weight, working out can help you slash your risk of both colon and breast cancer. Exercise at least 30 minutes daily.
- Drink Water
Drinking water does more than stave off dehydration. Water aids the digestive process, keeps things moving along your digestive tract and helps flush toxins from it. Water nourishes and refreshes your body. It protects crucial organs such as your colon, bladder and breast tissue against cancer. Consume eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day.
- Have a Yearly Physical Exam
Regular screenings can increase your odds of discovering cancer early, when treatment is often most successful. So, having a yearly physical exam is important. Advances in cancer treatment are promising. At SIU Medicine, you’ll receive collaborative care based on cutting-edge research provided by practitioners who are scholars, researchers and doctors.
- Avoid Exposure to Industrial and Environmental Toxins
Industrial and environmental toxins like asbestos, radon, lead, radiation, benzene and outdoor air pollution can raise cancer risk. Avoid exposure to these substances when possible.
- Be Up-to-Date on Your Vaccinations
Certain types of cancer can be prevented with vaccines. HPV (Human Papillomavirus) is associated with almost all cervical and anal cancers; throat, tongue, and tonsil cancers; penile cancer; and gynecologic cancers. HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. At least 50 percent of sexually active people will have HPV at some time. HPV is passed most often through skin-to-skin contact and can be passed when the infected partner has no signs or symptoms. Hepatitis B is associated with liver cancer. Hepatitis B is most commonly spread through exposure to infected body fluids. There are vaccines for both HPV and Hepatitis B.
Everyone knows someone who has been impacted by cancer. You can reduce your risk of developing cancer with these 10 tips from Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU Medicine.