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Preventing cancer

The good news is that much has been learned about prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer to help you. 

Cancer accounts for nearly one-quarter of deaths in the United States, exceeded only by heart diseases. The risk of an American man developing cancer over his lifetime is one in two. The leading cancer sites are prostate, lung, and colon and rectum. Approximately one in three women in the United States will develop cancer over her lifetime. The leading sites are breast, lung, and colon and rectum. 

Nine important cancer prevention practices

1.Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your loved ones.

  • Smoking damages nearly every organ in the human body, is linked to at least 15 different cancers, and accounts for some 30% of all cancer deaths.
  • Get quit smoking resources.

2. Sun-safe habits should begin in childhood and last a lifetime.

  • Limit direct sun exposure midday
  • Wear clothing to protect skin as much as possible
  • Wear a hat
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher
  • Wear sunglasses that block UV rays
  • Avoid sunlamps and tanning booths
  • More information about sun safety.

3. Adopt a physically active lifestyle.

  • Adults: Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity, above usual activities, on 5 or more days of the week; 45 to 60 minutes of intentional physical activity are preferable.
  • Children and adolescents: Engage in at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity at least 5 days per week.
  • Helpful information about staying active.

4. Eat a healthy diet, with an emphasis on plant sources.

  • Choose food or beverages in amounts that help achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat 5 or more servings of a variety of vegetables and fruits every day.
  • Choose whole grains in preference to processed (refined) grains.
  • Limit consumption of processed and red meats.
  • Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program provides nutritious foods and nutrition counseling to eligible families. Get information about WIC.
  • Food and fitness help.

5. If you drink alcoholic beverages, limit consumption.

  • Drink no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 per day for men.

6. Learn more about factors in your environment that can cause cancer, and how you can reduce your exposure to them.

7. Teach children at home and in schools, to make healthy choices when they are young.

8. Get regular check ups.

9. Perform self-exams and know how to recognize cancer symptoms.

  • If you can't prevent cancer, the next best thing you can do to protect your health is detect cancer early. Recognizing symptoms, getting regular check-ups, and performing self-exams are just a few ways you can do this.

Source: American Cancer Society

Page last reviewed 2-9-2015