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12 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

Posted by Sue Zanayed, February 5, 2019

Did you know that February 4th was World Cancer Day? According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 3 people will develop cancer at some point during their lifetime. While cancer can strike at any age, even in children, 9 in 10 cases occur in adults over age 50.

Cancer is the bad news no one wants to receive, although some forms are treatable with early detection and prompt treatment. Still, experts agree that lowering your risk ahead of time is certainly preferable to enduring treatments after a diagnosis.

Sometimes cancer is just “bad luck”. But there are things you can do to lower your risk of developing the disease, including:

  • Don’t smoke – 1 in 3 cancers is related to smoking
  • Avoid secondhand smoke
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes every day
  • Watch your weight – people of healthy weight have an 18 percent lower risk of cancer
  • Wear sunscreen or seek shade during the day to avoid sunburns (a common contributor of skin cancer)
  • Avoid radiation – have your home tested for radon
  • Avoid chemicals known to cause cancer – follow all safety instructions to the letter when you do need to use chemicals
  • Don’t use hormone replacement therapy (if you’re a woman) or limit this therapy when possible
  • Avoid your exposure to viruses that cause cancer, such as HPV which is spread through unprotected sex (and yes, this can happen to older people)
  • Get routine screenings – if you do develop pre-cancerous signs or cancer, you can catch and treat it early
  • Talk to your doctor about all medications you use on a regular basis, and whether diet and lifestyle choices would effectively treat your condition instead. Occasionally, after years on the market, we find that things we once considered “safe” might contribute to disease risk. It’s not possible to avoid all medications, of course, but don’t take anything on a long-term basis that isn’t absolutely necessary.

And now, for a bonus tip (and perhaps the most effective one of all): Eat a healthy diet. A diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of cancer, while deep-fried foods, processed meats, and sugar all increase your risk.

Again, attending regular check-ups with your doctor, discussing your concerns, and utilizing routine screenings are proactive steps to reducing cancer risk. Don’t be afraid to share personal details with your physician or ask questions. This helps him or her assess your risk factors and guide you toward the best preventive lifestyle measures and medical treatments.

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