The Basics of Cancer Prevention
February 10, 2023
Though a cancer diagnosis can come as a distressing surprise at any age, nearly 90–95% of cancer diseases develop due to environmental and lifestyle factors, which means they are often preventable.
Because we believe in integrative care to treat the whole person, here are some cancer prevention tips that will help you live a life of whole health, as well.
1. Avoid or Quit Smoking Tobacco
Smoking is linked to the risk of chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and of course, lung cancer. Smoking is in fact the cause of 80% of lung cancers, which means quitting is a major key to prevention. Ten years after quitting, your risk of lung cancer becomes half of someone who is still smoking. But other health risks decline sooner, including a decreased risk of heart attack within 24 hours after your last cigarette.
2. Eat and Move for Your Health
Cancer risk has been repeatedly linked to our nutritional intake. To help lower your own risk, limit processed foods in your diet and increase colorful fruits and vegetables. When it comes to protein, fish, poultry, and beans are options that may also keep your body cancer-free. The Mediterranean diet is a specific plan often recommended for those wanting to prevent cancer. However, consult your doctor about what diet adjustments will work best based on your current health status and family history of risk.
Along with eating well, exercise can also prevent some specific cancers, including:
- Colon (proximal and distal)
- Endometrium or skin
If you’re new to a cancer prevention plan that includes exercise, even a little physical activity can go a long way. Choose 15-20 minutes every day to take a walk, do some yoga, or enjoy a dance-off with your family members before working in more lengthy or intensive physical activities, such as resistance training, aerobics, or biking.
4. Shield Against Skin Cancer
Every day, 9,500 people are diagnosed with some form of skin cancer, and nearly 20 Americans die from melanoma: skin cancer in its deadliest form. Even on cloudy days, harmful UV rays can reflect from a variety of surfaces and reach your skin, but of course on bright sunny days, they are even more intense.
Protect your skin against UV damage and potential skin cancer by applying a daily dose of a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher.
5. Stay Up to Date on Vaccinations and Screenings
Keeping up with vaccines can protect us from illnesses like the flu and COVID-19, but some cancers can be prevented with them too. For example, vaccination against Hepatitis B may prevent those who come into contact with bodily fluids against liver cancer. Similarly, the HPV vaccine can reduce the risk of cervical cancer.
Many health screenings also catch cancers early when they are most treatable. Keep up with your mammograms, HPV tests, prostate screenings and talk to your doctor about when to schedule a colonoscopy, as recommendations vary based on each person’s health history and other individual factors.
At Morgan Physician Services, Family Medicine, we are proud to offer high-quality, personalized care for all your family’s health needs, from colds to cancer prevention and everything in-between. Learn more about us online or schedule an appointment by calling (706) 438-1275.