From Amanda Little, MSN, APRN

January 5, 2024

Research has shown adopting a healthy lifestyle can contribute to reducing the risk of developing certain types of cancer, as well as other illnesses like heart disease.  Making gradual, sustainable lifestyle changes is more likely to lead to your long-term success.  Here are several New Year’s resolutions that may help lower your cancer risk and maintain overall wellness:

We Are What We Eat

  • Increase the consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Choose lean protein sources, such as fish, poultry, and legumes.
  • Limit red and processed meats, as they have been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers.

OHC advanced practice provider Amanda Little, MSN, APRN

Maintain a Healthy Weight

  • Aim for a body mass index (BMI) within the healthy range. The National Institute of Health states a healthy range is 18.5 to 24.9.
  • Engage in regular physical activity to help manage weight and improve overall health.

Be Physically Active

  • Strive for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week. This may not be easy if you’ve only recently added exercise to your daily activities.  Start slow.  Short amounts of exercise are better than none.
  • Include a combination of aerobic exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises.

Quit Smoking

  • If you smoke, vape, and/or chew tobacco, resolve to quit. Nicotine is a major risk factor for several types of cancer, including lung, mouth, and throat cancers. There are support programs in place to help you quit smoking through medication, therapy, and other solutions.

Limit Alcohol Intake

  • If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. The American Cancer Society recommends limiting alcohol to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

Protect Your Skin

  • Practice sun safety by using sunscreen with at least SPF 30, wearing protective clothing, and avoiding excessive sun exposure, especially during the peak hours of 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Stay Hydrated

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Adequate hydration is essential for overall health and can contribute to a lower risk of certain cancers. It’s recommended men drink 3.7 liters and women have 2.7 liters of fluids a day.

Preventative Screenings

  • Follow recommended screening guidelines for various types of cancer, such as mammograms, Pap smears, colonoscopies, and prostate exams, depending on age and risk factors. Visit our screening guidelines to learn more.

Practice Safe Sex

  • Human papillomaviruses (HPV), Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) linked to cancer. Protect yourself and your partner by practicing safe sex to reduce your risk.

Manage Stress

  • Incorporate stress management techniques into your routine, such as mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.

Get Vaccinated

  • Follow recommended vaccination schedules, including vaccines that protect against viruses linked to cancer, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

Regular Health Check-ups

  • Schedule regular check-ups with your healthcare provider. Early detection and management of health issues can contribute to overall well-being and better outcomes. Be sure to share any unusual symptoms you’re experiencing early.

Remember, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice based on your health status and risk factors.  Making changes to your lifestyle takes time – be sure to start slowly and gradually build up to what is recommended for you.  Even small changes can help reduce your risk.

To learn more about when to schedule screenings for cancer based on your age or family history, visit our screening guidelines.

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