April is Cancer Control Month, and there’s no better time to make the positive lifestyle changes that can help prevent cancer. However, many cancers have a genetic component or are caused by factors outside of our control, your risk of developing cancer increases or decreases with certain lifestyle choices. By making positive lifestyle choices and being proactive about our health, we can help prevent cancer – or catch it in its early stages.
Here’s how to reduce your risk of developing cancer.
Don’t Use Tobacco Products
We all know that smoking is linked with cancer. However, using any tobacco product can increase your risk of developing cancer. If you develop cancer, consuming tobacco can also affect how well you recover from surgeries or treatment. It may also put you at risk for additional complications. If you smoke, vape, chew, or use tobacco in any other form, now is the time to quit. Remember that second-and third-hand smoke also has health risks.
Eat Well and Move Often
A healthy diet and regular exercise regimen can help lower your risk of developing cancer. Increase your fruit and vegetable intake, limit your processed meats, switch to heart-healthy oils, drink plenty of water, and use alcohol in moderation. Complement this with regular exercise for the best results. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate activity can significantly impact your health – and more is even better. If you’re short on time, break up your exercise sessions or incorporate movement into your daily schedule. Taking the stairs, parking far away, or getting off a stop early all add up. These lifestyle choices offer myriad health benefits while also helping you maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a cancer risk, so be proactive about keeping your weight within recommended guidelines.
Use Sun Protection
Sun is good for your body and soul, but too much is a skin cancer risk. Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer and can spread rapidly. Fortunately, it’s highly preventable. To protect yourself from the sun, avoid spending long periods outside from 10 am to 4 pm, stay in the shade, wear sunscreen and protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses, and cover exposed skin. Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps, as these also carry skin cancer risks.
Manage Stress in Healthy Ways
While stress itself doesn’t cause cancer, the ways we manage stress can be risk factors. Do you drink or smoke more, exercise less, or eat poorly when stressed? If so, talk to your doctor or explore healthy alternatives to managing stress. Some popular options include yoga, meditation, deep breathing, talking to friends, taking a break, or taking up a hobby.
Get Regular Screenings and Checkups
The earlier you catch cancer, the better your chances of beating it. In addition to performing regular self-examinations, stay on top of your regular checkups and make you’re up to date on screenings such as pap smears. You’ll be more likely to identify cancer in its earlier stages. Some cancers, such as cervical cancer, can be prevented by the HPV vaccine, so ask your doctor about vaccination.
Use and Share the Cancer Prevention Kit
One-third of all cancers are preventable. We know that preventive measures and early detection can save lives. This Cancer Control Month, make a difference to your life and those of your loved ones by downloading and sharing the NFCR’s Cancer Prevention and Early Detection Kit. And if you’re due for a checkup or screening, make an appointment! At Southwest Women’s Oncology and Health, we’re always available for patients with questions about or require treatment for their gynecologic health.