Avoiding tobacco — or deciding to stop using it — is one of the most important health decisions you can make. It's also an important part of cancer prevention. If you need help quitting tobacco, ask your doctor about stop-smoking products and other strategies for quitting.
2. Eat a healthy diet Although making healthy selections at the grocery store and at mealtime can't guarantee cancer prevention, it may help reduce your risk. Consider these guidelines:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources — such as whole grains and beans.
- Limit fat. Eat lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-fat foods, particularly those from animal sources. High-fat diets tend to be higher in calories and may increase the risk of overweight or obesity — which can, in turn, increase cancer risk.
- If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. The risk of various types of cancer — including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver — increases with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you've been drinking regularly.
As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine — and if you can do more, even better. Try a fitness class, rediscover a favorite sport or meet a friend for daily brisk walks.
4. Protect yourself from the sun Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer — and one of the most preventable. Try these tips:
- Avoid midday sun. Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's rays are strongest.
- Stay in the shade. When you're outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible. Sunglasses and a broad-rimmed hat help, too.
- Cover exposed areas. Wear tightly woven, loosefitting clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible. Opt for bright or dark colors, which reflect more ultraviolet radiation than pastels or bleached cotton.
- Don't skimp on sunscreen. Use generous amounts of sunscreen when you're outdoors, and reapply often.
- Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. These are just as damaging as natural sunlight.
- Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is routinely given to infants. It's also recommended for certain high-risk adults — such as adults who are sexually active but not in a mutually monogamous relationship, men who have sex with men, and health care or public safety workers who might be exposed to infected blood or body fluids.
- Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine is available to both men and women age 26 or younger who didn't have the vaccine as an adolescent.
- Practice safe sex. Limit your number of sexual partners, and use a condom when you do have sex.The more sexual partners you have in your lifetime, the more likely you are to contract a sexually transmitted infection — such as HIV or HPV. People who have HIV or AIDS have a higher risk of cancer of the anus, cervix, lung and immune system. HPV is most often associated with cervical cancer, but it may also increase the risk of cancer of the anus, penis, throat, vulva and vagina.
- Don't share needles. Sharing needles with an infected drug user can lead to HIV, as well as hepatitis B and hepatitis C — which can increase the risk of liver cancer. If you're concerned about drug abuse or addiction, seek professional help.
Take cancer prevention into your own hands, starting today. The rewards will last a lifetime.
Weight Loss Coaching with Natasha Brown