Can Cancer be Prevented? Multi-colored cancer ribbons

Can Cancer be Prevented?

Can we prevent cancer?

As I mentioned last week, I’m a very optimistic person, but cancer brings out the worst in me. I’m not sure we can PREVENT cancer.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, “About one of every three Americans will develop some form of malignancy during his or her lifetime.” One in three, those are not great odds! There are so many causes of cancer and, truthfully, we probably don’t even know the reason most people get cancer.

We can do two things: be aware of the warning signs to allow for early detection, and live a healthy lifestyle which has proven to help reduce your risk of cancer.

Remember the cancer warning signs

Last week we discussed the warning signs of cancer, because they are so important I’m listing them again:

C for change in bowel or bladder habits

A for a sore that does not heal

U for unusual bleeding or discharge

T for thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere

I for indigestion

O for obvious change to warts or moles

N for a nagging cough

Use this list as a reminder to listen to your body and report any sudden changes to your doctor. There is a reason why doctors ask so many questions at your physical, there is a reason they are checking your weight and comparing it from visit to visit. They are doing their part to see if you have any warning signs, don’t ignore what your body tells you.

Harvard School of Public Health on Cancer Prevention

Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health estimate that up to 75% of American cancer deaths can be prevented. When reading their list of 10 things to do to help prevent cancer it occurred to me that they are all good health practices no matter the reason you follow them.

1. Avoid tobacco in all its forms, including exposure to secondhand smoke.

2. Eat properly. Reduce your consumption of saturated fat and red meat, which may increase the risk of colon cancer and a more aggressive form of prostate cancer. Increase your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

3. Exercise regularly. Physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer. Exercise also appears to reduce a woman’s risk of breast and possibly reproductive cancers. Exercise is not just about losing weight or how you look.

4. Stay lean. Obesity increases the risk of many forms of cancer. Count your calories and/or macros if you need to slim down, take in fewer calories and burn more with exercise.

5. If you choose to drink, limit yourself to an average of one drink a day. Excess alcohol increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, larynx (voice box), esophagus (food pipe), liver, and colon; it also increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

6. Avoid unnecessary exposure to radiation. Check your home for residential radon, which increases the risk of lung cancer. Protect yourself from ultraviolet radiation in sunlight, which increases the risk of melanomas and other skin cancers.

7. Avoid exposure to industrial and environmental toxins such as asbestos fibers, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

8. Avoid infections that contribute to cancer, including hepatitis viruses, HIV, and the human papillomavirus. Many are transmitted sexually or through contaminated needles.

9. Make quality sleep a priority. The link between sleep and cancer is very low, however, poor and insufficient sleep is associated with weight gain, which is a cancer risk factor.

10. Get enough vitamin D. Many experts now recommend 800 to 1,000 IU a day, a goal that’s nearly impossible to attain without taking a supplement.

Early Detection and a Healthy Lifestyle are Key

We probably will never be able to completely protect ourselves from cancer. However, using all of the tools above can help us be aware if we are at risk and we will live a healthier life which hopefully will help us feel better overall. We are not invincible, however, it doesn’t hurt to focus on being healthy BEFORE you NEED to be healthy so you can live your best life.

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