Cancer Prevention: 6 Tips to Reduce Your Risk

Concerned about cancer prevention? Take charge by making small changes in your daily life, from eating a healthy diet to scheduling regular cancer screenings.

Risk reduction is taking action to reduce or “cut down” your individual risk of developing cancer. Risk can be increased or decreased by the lifestyle choices you make or the kind of environment you live and work in. But even a person at low risk may get cancer, just as a person at high risk may not.

** Low risk does not mean that you won’t get cancer, it means that the chances of getting it are small. High risk means that your chances may be higher, but it does not mean that you will develop cancer.

1. Eat a healthy diet

Although making healthy selections at the grocery store and at mealtime can't guarantee cancer prevention, it may help reduce your risk. Consider these guidelines:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources — such as whole grains and beans.
  • Limit fat. Eat lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-fat foods, particularly those from animal sources. High-fat diets tend to be higher in calories and may increase the risk of overweight or obesity — which can, in turn, increase cancer risk.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. The risk of various types of cancer — including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver — increases with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you've been drinking regularly.

2. Maintain a healthy weight and include activity into your daily routine

Various types of cancer (breast, prostate, lung, colon, and kidney) may be affected by weight. As well as controlling your weight, physical activity on its own may lower the risk of breast and colon cancer. A general goal is to include at least 30 minutes a day - keep it fun and something you enjoy!

3. Protect yourself from the sun

Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer, and one of the most preventable.

  • Avoid midday sun (10 am – 4 pm when the sun’s rays are strongest)
  • Stay in the shade, and wear sunglasses and a large-brimmed hat as well
  • Cover exposed areas (bright or dark colors reflect more ultraviolet radiation than pastels or bleached cotton)
  • Lather on the sunscreen – use generous amounts and reapply often!

Check out the ABCDs of melanoma and pictorial examples at: www.aad.org/public/exams/abcd.html

4. Get immunized

Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections:

Hepatitis B – this disease increases the risk of developing live cancer. Hepatitis B occurs endemically in many parts of the world and is the gold standard of care for overseas personnel.

HPV vaccine (human papillomavirus) is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical cancer. The vaccine is available to both men and women age 26 or younger.

5. Get screened and take early detection seriously

Know your body and report any changes to your doctor or dentist. (Health Highlight Aug. 2008 Dental Care) Warning signs of oral cancer can be found at www.cda-adc.ca/en/oral_health

Follow health and safety instructions when using hazardous materials at home and at work. (paint products, building supplies, chemical storage)

Regular self-exams and professional screening for various types of cancers — such as cancer of the skin, colon, prostate, cervix and breast — can increase your chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Ask your doctor about the best cancer screening schedule for you.

Members: Try the PKC couplers on breast and colon cancer screening! They are a great source of information and health teaching. Contact our nurse for the login and password at bpaonessa@ihmcanada.org or if you have any health concerns, and make sure your family history, especially if there is cancer, is up to date on your MANGO records!

Take cancer prevention into your own hands, starting today. The rewards will last a lifetime.