While progress has been made in fighting cancer, statistics suggest that 1.5 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year and a half million will lose their lives in 2013 to cancer. During the 2013 National Cancer Control Month, we are at a critical moment in the history of cancer research, with many lifesaving discoveries occurring at an accelerated pace. Yet already this month, I’ve lost a friend to cancer and I have two friends who have also lost loved ones to cancer in the past few weeks. If you, too, have lost loved ones to cancer, then you no doubt feel the same sense of urgency that I feel – that, until the day when science and medicine are able to cure or prevent malignant cancers of all kinds, we would all be wise to protect ourselves from cancer risk to the degree that it is in our power to do so.
Take steps NOW to reduce your cancer risks
- Make common sense lifestyle decisions to reduce cancer risk.
- Get cancer screening for early detection.
- Avoid tobacco-smoke exposure All types of tobacco significantly heightens your cancer risk. Even being frequently around a smoker puts you at risk of lung cancer. For help and info, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit www.SmokeFree.gov.
- Eat a healthy diet
Many forms of cancer have been linked to unhealthy diets, such as highly processed foods. The best way to boost your body’s effort to fight off carcinogens (substances that can cause cancer growth in living tissue) in your environment or body, and to avoid ingesting carcinogens, is to get lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet, as well as minimize alcohol consumption, processed foods, and unhealthy fats.
- Exercise regularly Keeping yourself at a healthy weight and keeping your body in shape can go far towards reducing your cancer risk. Try to get at least a half hour of regular, daily physical activity, but studies show that doing more than 30 minutes of moderate, regular exercise is even better.
- Go easy on the sun exposure To protect yourself from the risks of skin cancer, limit your sun exposure by staying out of the midday sun – when the dangerous sunrays are their strongest – and use sunscreen when you must be in the sun.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
A growing body of evidence connects alcohol consumption with cancer. Avoiding alcohol completely is your safest choice, but moderation is your next best precautionary measure.
It's also important to attend appropriate and regularly scheduled cancer screenings to ensure their earliest possible detection. Most forms of cancer become harder to treat the further the cancer has progressed in your body. The sooner a cancer is discovered in your body, the better your odds are of recovery.
Along with regular cancer screenings, certain forms of cancer, such as testicular cancer, melanoma (skin cancer), and breast cancer, can often be detected by performing regular cancer examinations. For more information on cancer self examinations, see:
- What You Need To Know About™ Melanoma and Other Skin Cancers: How To Check Your Skin
- The Five Steps of a Breast Self-Exam or Breast Self-Exam: What to Look For, How to Do It
- Testicular Cancer Self Exam video or Testicular self-exam
- Breast Cancer
- Cervical and Vaginal Cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Colorectal Cancer