From Ashley Fields, MSN, APRN, advanced practice provider at OHC
February 10, 2023
Take a moment to contemplate these eye-opening statistics:
- Nearly half of cancer deaths across the globe were preventable.
- An estimated 1.9 million new cancer cases were diagnosed in Americans last year.
- According to the American Cancer Society, at least 18 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the U.S. are related to excess body weight, physical inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, and/or poor nutrition.
Cancer is the result of several factors—our genes, lifestyle, and environment. While there is no silver bullet for preventing cancer, there are lifestyle changes we can make to reduce risk. We encourage you to take simple steps each day to make a difference.
- Eat a healthy diet- Focus on maximizing your intake of fruits and vegetables while minimizing your intake of processed foods, sugars, red meat, and fast food. Enjoy a plant-based diet complete with whole grains, nuts, and legumes.
Helpful tip- Change your diet slowly and your palate will begin to change. Every time you go to the grocery store, select a new fruit or vegetable to try.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight- Extra body weight can raise insulin levels and too much insulin can increase cancer risk. Exercise is linked to better health and improved quality of life. In addition to reducing cancer risk, physical activity reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes. The U.S. government’s current Physical Activity Guidelines recommend at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week along with a minimum of two days of muscle-strengthening activity each week.
Helpful tip- Start by exercising for two 10-minute sessions each day for a week, then slowly increase your time.
- Quit smoking- Smoking increases the risk of several cancer types. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), cigarette smoking causes about 25 percent of all cancer diagnoses and 30 percent of all cancer deaths in the U.S. Use of smokeless tobacco and electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) also increases cancer risk.
Helpful tip- If you feel a craving coming on, distract yourself with physical activity or a hobby, like walking around the house a couple of times or journaling. Cravings typically pass in five-to-ten minutes. If you continue to struggle, talk to your healthcare provider about a cessation program.
- Limit alcohol consumption- Alcohol is a carcinogen, a substance that can cause cancer. Your cancer risk increases if you are also a smoker.
Helpful tip- Write down your reasons for wanting to reduce your alcohol consumption and consider the positive impact it will have on your health and various areas of your life. Talk to your healthcare provider if you need additional assistance.
- Protect skin from the sun’s rays- Wear protective clothing and sunglasses and use sunscreen year-round. Avoid artificial sources of UV radiation, like tanning beds.
Helpful tip- Incorporate sunscreen application into your daily routine. Apply at least one ounce of broad spectrum sunscreen 15-30 minutes before going outside.
- Schedule preventative screenings and routine medical care- Detecting cancer early typically leads to better treatment outcomes. For an up-to-date list of screening guidelines, visit: https://ohcare.com/service/cancer-screenings/.
Helpful tip- Download and print OHC’s screening guidelines tool at the above link to track your schedule of preventative screenings.
- Ask your healthcare provider about vaccinations- Infection with the hepatitis B virus increases the risk of liver cancer. Cancers attributed to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection include cervical, vaginal, vulvar, anal, penile, and certain head and neck cancers. Vaccines are available for protection against both viruses.
Helpful tip- Several local pharmacists can administer the hepatitis B and HPV vaccines.
- Test your home for radon- Inhaling radon gas increases lung cancer risk.
Helpful tip- You can purchase a home radon testing kit through the American Lung Association website at this link: https://bit.ly/3XlE0Ao.
- Consider genetic testing- About five-to-ten percent of cancers are hereditary. If you are at risk for a hereditary cancer syndrome, consider genetic testing. Results can help you better understand your risk and work with your healthcare provider on a program of surveillance and screening.
Helpful tip- OHC offers a Genetic Risk Evaluation and Testing Program (GREAT) to anyone with a family history of cancer seeking an assessment.
Not all cancer prevention is in our control, but adopting a healthier lifestyle goes a long way in reducing cancer risk. This National Cancer Prevention Month, keep this list handy and take steps toward cancer prevention.
For more information on prevention and screening recommendations, or to request a second opinion with an OHC cancer expert, call 1-888-649-4800 or visit ohcare.com.Comments (0)
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