You or someone you know may have been personally affected by cancer, but you can take steps to lower your risk. Small modifications in your daily life can add up over time and make a big difference.
Get screenings and immunizations
Early detection methods for cancer can be lifesaving. Your doctor can administer preventive screening tests for different types of cancer, such as cancer of the:
Early detection of a tumor, especially when the tumor is small or hasn’t spread, increases the chances of successful treatment. You should also talk to your doctor about getting immunized against the viral infections hepatitis B and human papillomavirus (HPV). The CDC reports that hepatitis B can increase your risk of liver cancerTrusted Source, and HPV can lead to cervical cancerTrusted Source.
Protect yourself from the sun
Follow these tips to help prevent skin cancer:
- Use a sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 15.
- Cover your skin when you’re outdoors or stay in the shade.
- Hats and UPF-rated clothing can help protect you when you need to be in the sun for a long time.
- Avoid the sun during the peak hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. The rays of the midday sun are the strongest.
- Don’t use sunlamps or tanning beds.
Eat a balanced diet
While dietary changes alone aren’t foolproof in preventing cancer, experts at the American Cancer Society (ACS) believe that making the right choices at mealtime might help reduce your risk. Include fruits and vegetables as an important part of your daily diet, as well as whole grains. Avoid high-fat foods, such as fatty cuts of meat and whole-fat dairy products. Foods high in fat can lead to increased weight, and being overweight or obese can increase your cancer risk.
Regular exercise and physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which in turn may play a role in lowering your cancer risk. The Mayo Clinic reports that physical activity may lower your risk of both breast and colon cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise could also lower your risk of prostate, lung, and kidney cancers. You don’t need to be a champion athlete. Aim to incorporate 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine at least five days per week.
Avoid risky behaviors
Certain behaviors can lead to infections that might increase your cancer risk. You should avoid behaviors that are considered risky, such as sharing needles and unsafe sexual practices. Use a condom and limit the number of sexual partners you have to practice safe sex.
Though it may seem obvious, avoiding tobacco can help you avoid cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, smoking is linked with certain types of cancer, including cancer of the:
If you smoke cigarettes or cigars, or use chewing tobacco, it’s important to quit. Even if you’re not a smoker, make an effort to avoid secondhand smoke, which can increase your risk of lung cancer.
Small steps count
When it comes to reducing your risk of developing cancer, your everyday decisions count. You can’t eliminate your risk completely, but making positive lifestyle choices can improve your likelihood of having a healthy future.