Current research shows that simple measures can prevent up to 50% of all cancers. We now know that the choices we make throughout our lives can increase or decrease our risk of developing cancer.
Here are seven preventive measures:
- Avoid tobacco and second-hand smoke
Cigarette smoke is to blame for about 30% of all cancers in Canada and over 85% of lung cancers, making this the most preventable form of cancer.
- Eat well
Dietary factors have been linked to cancers of the breast, colon, stomach, liver, pancreas and prostate. A diet that is low in fat and high in fibre can dramatically decrease the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Cancer experts also recommend cutting down on salt and salty foods (including salt-preserved and smoked meats), and limiting alcohol consumption to a maximum of one glass a day.
- Maintain a healthy weight
Excess weight and obesity are not only linked to diabetes and cardiovascular disease; they also increase the risk of developing colon, uterine, breast, kidney and esophageal cancers. Abdominal fat may also increase the risks associated with certain cancers, regardless of whether or not the person is obese. There’s clearly much to be gained by losing a few pounds!
- Get regular exercise
Regular physical activity reduces the risk of breast and colon cancer. Combined with a healthy diet, exercise is the most effective way to maintain a healthy weight. Adults should aim to do 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day, or at least three to four times a week.
- Limit sun exposure
Cancer experts estimate that 90% of all skin cancers can be avoided by adopting simple sun-safety measures. Some skin cancers appear to be triggered by intense and sporadic sun exposure, while others are the result of long-term exposure. Individuals with fair skin, red or blond hair, and freckles, as well as young children, are at a higher risk. Some experts believe that one severe sunburn before adulthood may increase the risk of developing skin cancer by as much as 50%.
- Avoid exposure to contaminants
Both at home and at work, follow health and safety instructions when using, storing and disposing of hazardous materials.
- Early detection and treatment
Two simple ways of substantially increasing your chances of surviving most types of cancer are: Early detection through a medical exam and/or by recognizing early warning signs and seeking the appropriate medical attention as soon as possible.
It is important to get informed about cancer and to have regular medical checkups, especially after the age of 45. Consult your physician immediately in the event of suspicious lumps, inflammation, bleeding, persistent pain, inexplicable weight loss or gain, or other changes in your health.