February is National Cancer Prevention Month and a great time to re-start your New Year’s resolutions. It takes just 21 days to create a new habit, and your new healthy habit can help you prevent cancer. Up to 50 percent of all cancers diagnosed today are due to preventable causes. Help us spread the word this month so your friends, family and loved ones can reduce their risk for cancer.
Follow our 7 Steps to Prevent Cancer:
1. Don’t Use Tobacco:
Lung cancer is consistently the most deadly cancer for both men and women in the United States. 90 percent of lung cancer cases are related to cigarette smoking. It is never too late to quit or to help a loved one quit. Here are some free resources to get you started from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
2. Protect Your Skin From the Sun:
Even in the winter, it is crucial to wear sunscreen when going outside. The snow reflects the sun’s ultraviolet rays making you as vulnerable to the sun as you are in the summer. When heading outside to exercise, ski, snowboard or shovel snow, apply an SPF 30 sunscreen to all exposed skin and remember to reapply every two hours.
3. Eat a Healthy Diet
Your diet has a tremendous influence on your risk for cancer and other deadly diseases. Packing your diet with fruits, veggies and whole grains can help you reduce your risk for several types of cancer like colorectal and breast. Limit your intake of red meat and alcohol- drink no more than two drinks a day if you are a man or one drink a day if you are a woman.
4. Maintain a Healthy Weight and Be Physically Active
Daily exercise is just as important as healthy eating. Getting at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity can make a huge difference on your health. Take walk breaks at work or go on walking meetings to encourage everyone to get up and move. Try a different exercise routine until you find one that suits you and your schedule.
5. Practice Safe Sex and Avoid Risky Behaviors
Viruses, like the Humanpapallomavirus (HPV), spread by skin-to-skin contact through vaginal, anal and oral sex can lead to cervical, anal, penile and other cancers. Injecting recreational drugs can increase risk of hepatitis B or C, which may lead to liver cancer. Talk to your doctor if you’ve ever used IV drugs.
6. Get Immunized
Certain viruses have been linked to cancer, but are preventable through vaccination. Talk to your health care professional about receiving the HPV vaccine if you have not already. In the United States, approximately one-third of liver cancers are linked to the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Vaccines are available for HPV and hepatitis B. An HBV vaccination is available and is recommended for babies, older children who were not vaccinated earlier and adults who are at risk for HBV infection. The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls ages 11 or 12, however, all the HPV vaccines are available for women through age 26.
7. Know Your Family Medical History and Get Regular Cancer Screenings
Do you know your family medical history? Take a few minutes to fill out this chart with your family. Share it with your family members and health care professional who will make sure you are receiving the appropriate screenings at the right age. There are screenings for breast, cervical, colorectal and lung cancer all of which may detect cancer earlier.
What’s stopping us from preventing half of cancer cases diagnosed today is awareness. Help us spread the word this month on how we can make choices daily to reduce our risk for several types of cancer. For more information on preventing cancer, visit preventcancer.org.