Most cancers diagnosed today is sporadic or random. There is no rhyme or reason as to why someone gets it. There is no way to prevent these types of sporadic cancers. The best protection is to find them early when they are the most treatable and curable. This is why cancer screening is so important.
But about 30% of cancers diagnosed worldwide are preventable. Here are five ways you can help prevent cancer.
1. Don’t smoke – Research clearly shows that smoking significantly increases your risk of getting cancer. Nine out of 10 lung cancers are caused by cigarette smoking. Smoking is also linked many other types of cancers such as esophageal cancer, cancers of the mouth and throat, urinary bladder cancer, blood (acute myeloid leukemia), cervix, colon and rectum, esophagus, kidney, liver, pancreas, and stomach cancer.
You don’t have to smoke the tobacco to get cancer. Chewing tobacco also causes cancers in the mouth and throat.
We don’t know what effects smoking marijuana has on cancer development, but we do know that the smoke from marijuana can cause lung infections and can weaken the immune system. With so little information on it, I would caution against smoking marijuana as well.
If you already smoke – stop. Stopping smoking can reduce your risk of getting, lung, mouth and throat cancers. Within five years of quitting, the risk of getting mouth, bladder or esophageal cancer is cut in half; and the risk of dying from a tobacco-related cancer is also reduced.
2. Eat a healthy diet – Eating diets high in fruits, vegetables, and lean meats to help you maintain a healthy body weight and burn excess fat. The fat produces high levels of insulin and hormones that increase your cancer risk.
3. Exercise – Studies show that the risk of developing the most common seven cancer types is reduced by 20% with vigorous exercise (Seven hours of brisk walking or two and a half hours of jogging per week). Mild exercise of 20 minutes per week results in slight risk reduction.
4. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. Alcohol raises the risk of cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, breast, colon and rectum. People who drink alcohol should limit their intake to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. A drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine, or one-and-a-half ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (hard liquor). In older adults, moderate drinking has been shown to decrease the risk of heart attack or stroke. You should talk to your family doctor about your risk.
5. Get your screening exams: Screening exams such as colonoscopy, mammograms or pap smears can diagnose pre-cancerous conditions that can be treated before they progress to the more dangerous invasive cancers. By treating these conditions before they become invasive, you can oftentimes prevent invasive disease.
Some cancers can be prevented. Do your part in reducing your risk. Get regular check-ups and the recommended screening and you stand a better chance at living a healthy cancer free life.