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Reduce your cancer risk by adopting 7 cancer prevention strategies

Reduce your cancer risk by adopting 7 cancer prevention strategies

February is National Cancer Prevention Month. In honor of the occasion, adopt cancer prevention strategies to lower your risk. To protect against cancer:

  1. Avoid alcohol. Why stop with dry January? Limiting alcohol can help prevent liver cancer.
  2. Eat a healthy diet. Get plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein sources, whole grains, and non- or low-fat dairy. Try to avoid added sugars and processed meats, which have been linked to cancer, such as colorectal cancer. Limit your intake of red meat.
  3. Don’t smoke or quit if you do. Smoking can increase the risk of lung cancer as well as other types of cancer.
  4. Get physically active for at least 30 minutes every day. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or a combination of the two. Aerobic activity is anything that increases your heart rate, such as walking, swimming, or cycling.
  5. Work to reach or maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases cancer risk.
  6. Wear sunscreen and clothes that protect against the sun, such as long sleeves and a brimmed hat, to protect against skin cancer.
  7. Get recommended cancer screenings. Some of the most common cancers have screenings that can help your physician detect cancer early when it’s most easily treated.

Breast cancer screening

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, according to the American Cancer Society. Mammograms are the gold standard in breast cancer detection. The guidelines for mammograms for women at an average risk of breast cancer are:

  • Women aged 40-44 should have the option to have a mammogram screening every year.
  • Women aged 45-54 should have a mammogram every year.
  • Women aged 55 and older can switch to a mammogram every other year but should still have the option for a mammogram every year.

If you are at an increased risk for breast cancer, you may need to start having mammograms earlier. You are at an increased risk if you have:

  • A family history of breast cancer
  • BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations
  • A history of radiation to the chest
  • A personal history of breast cancer

Lung cancer screening

Lung cancer screening using low-dose CT scan is recommended for people who have a high risk of developing the disease. That includes people who have a 20-pack-year or more history of smoking, people who smoke now or have quit in the past 15 years, and those aged 50 to 80. If you are at risk for lung cancer, you should have a lung CT every year starting at age 50.

Cervical cancer screening

Cervical cancer screening should start at age 25 and is an important part of women’s health. To detect cervical cancer, providers use a Pap test and the HPV test. If your test is normal, you should have the tests every five years or every three years if you have the Pap test by itself.

If your results are abnormal, talk with your healthcare provider about how often you should test.

Colorectal cancer screening

To reduce your risk for cancer of the colon or rectum, have a colonoscopy or other colorectal cancer screening regularly, starting at age 45. Traditional colonoscopies are generally recommended every ten years, but your screening recommendations may differ, depending on which test you take and what your doctor finds. Colonoscopies are unique in that they are a screening tool that can also prevent cancer, by removing suspicious polyps before they are cancerous. Other screening options include:

  • CT colonography – every five years
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy (FSIG) – every five years
  • Highly sensitive fecal immunochemical test (FIT) – every year
  • Highly sensitive guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) – every year
  • Multi-targeted stool DNA test (mt-sDNA) – every three years

Your healthcare provider can help you decide which colorectal cancer screening test is best for you.

Work with your physician to determine your individual cancer risk and which screenings are right for you. Learn more about Cancer Care at Touro.