It’s no secret that cancer has become one of the most prevalent medical issues in the United States and across the globe. Based on the growing number of cases, it is estimated that approximately 39.6% of men and women will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime. While certain cancers develop through genetics, others are born through our lifestyle choices, like exercise, diet, and drug and alcohol consumption. Even though the cancer mortality rate has declined since the 1990’s, it’s important to realize how cancer could impact you or your loved ones if proper prevention and care does not occur.
April is Cancer Care Month, which means many Americans are taking steps to prevent cancer by taking extra care of themselves. Hopefully, this will lead to the development of good habits for cancer prevention all year round! Here are a few ways that you can start working to give yourself a healthier future with a lower risk of cancer.
#1 & #2: Diet and Exercise
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly are not only beneficial to your overall well-being, but they are also key in reducing your risk of cancer. Keeping up with a healthy weight and a balanced diet can also reduce your risk of other conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease. Specifically, incorporating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into your meals and limiting meat and sodium intake can not only help you lose weight, but also give your body the fuel it needs to stay healthy. As far as exercise goes, being active for 30 minutes each day - even if it’s in five to ten minute increments - is key in keeping up with a healthy weight and cancer prevention. Whether it’s taking short walking breaks during the work day, going to the gym, or playing a sport you enjoy, it’s important that we keep up with an active routine to stay on the right track.
#3: Sun Protection
Of course we want to wear sunscreen if we’ll be outdoors for hours during the summer, but did you know sunscreen is something we need any time we’re outside? The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends using an SPF 15 or higher when going outdoors. If you’ll be outside in the sun, protective clothing and gear such as sunglasses, hats, long sleeves and pants can make a difference in protecting our bodies from the sun’s harmful UV rays. Be sure to regularly check your skin for any unusual moles, markings, discoloration, and redness as well. If you have concerns about anything on your skin after being exposed to sunlight, visit your doctor for more information.
#4 & #5: Alcohol and Smoking
Alcohol consumption as well as smoking are major factors in contributing to our cancer risk. Alcohol consumption has been linked to breast, throat, liver, colon, mouth, and stomach cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, those who drink alcohol should limit their intake to one drink daily for women, and 2 daily for men, to minimize the additional risk associated with alcohol. Additionally, smoking causes 80% of all lung cancer deaths and 30% of all cancer deaths in the United States per year. Tobacco smoke causes damage to our lungs, throats, and mouths, including secondhand smoke.
Cancer is a devastating disease and taking proper precautionary measures can greatly reduce your risk of cancer, as well as improve your health and well-being. The first step in starting on a journey to cancer prevention is by speaking to your doctor. At Genesis Medical, our staff can provide information on different cancers - particularly those most likely to affect you based on age and family history - and how you can reduce your risk of developing them. Schedule an appointment at a location near you and our staff will be more than happy to assist you.