This post on cancer prevention tips is sponsored by the American Cancer Society; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.
We have all been affected by cancer in some way, whether we have been diagnosed with it ourselves or have known a family member or friend who had cancer. You may remember that I lost both of my parents to cancer. My dad was diagnosed with lung cancer at 54 and passed away two weeks later. My mom lost a very brief battle with ovarian cancer at 58. Because of this, I am very passionate about doing what I can to reduce my risk of cancer. With February being National Cancer Prevention Month, I am happy to share my five cancer prevention tips that work for me and have been fairly easy to implement.
Getting Regular Cancer Screenings for Cancer Prevention
One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Knowing this statistic, one of the most important things we can do is get regular screenings. Screenings can catch some cancers early, which can improve the chance for successful treatment. I recently made an appointment to have a spot on my face checked because I was afraid it could be dangerous. (I’ll be honest though – I put it off because I was nervous. I shouldn’t have waited!) Thankfully, the doctor recognized that it was just a benign skin spot and was able to remove it for my own comfort.
In addition to getting any weird skin spots checked out, we can also screen parts that aren’t so easily seen: breast, cervix, and colon cancer screenings are recommended at certain ages. Other screenings may be needed, too, based on risk factors.
Check out the American Cancer Society’s full screening guidelines to stay ahead of the game.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Obesity is linked to many health risks and diseases, but did you know it is also linked to an increased risk of many cancers? Maintaining a healthy weight is another important way to reduce the risk of cancer – and we can even involve our kids! Going out for a walk during the day or even having a dance party in the kitchen can get your heart rate up and burn some calories. Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week. No need to do it all at once! Spread your sweat sessions throughout the week for best results.
Also, try to move around periodically throughout the day, especially if you have a sedentary job. Sitting for long periods of time has been linked to a greater risk of cancers, such as colon cancer, endometrial, and lung. Some smart watches have hourly reminders to get up and move for at least a minute. You can use that minute any way you like – walking to get a refill of water, doing a few squats, or taking a quick trip up and down the stairs. What an easy way to make sure you move your body a little bit all day!
Eating Healthy Foods
This tip goes right along with maintaining a healthy weight – eating the best foods to fuel your body. Not only do we want to eat foods that are full of nutrition so our bodies feel good, but we want to make sure we eat the proper portions so that we don’t over-consume calories. Our
family keeps plenty of fresh fruit and chopped veggies in the fridge to make it easy to grab a nutritious snack. Even the kids have easy healthy snacks that are within reach when they get hungry.
Foods aren’t the only part of a healthy diet though. Drinks are also important! We opt for water or sparkling water most of the time, with the occasional juice. Keeping sodas and sugars to a minimum helps us to keep our bodies at a healthy weight! It also keeps the kids from starting
habits that may be difficult to break when they are older.
Both of my parents smoked, and unfortunately my dad suffered greatly because of it. Smoking is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer but it often interacts with other risk factors. My dad’s lung cancer was hard to treat and was diagnosed too late to even attempt treatment.
Lung cancer isn’t the only danger from smoking. Smoking also increases the risk of mouth, kidney, liver, bladder, pancreas, and other cancers. Tobacco in any form isn’t safe. If you do smoke and need help quitting, you can call 1-800-227-2345 for help.
Protecting Your Skin
I am thankful that my worry with skin cancer turned out to be a harmless spot, but not everyone has that same outcome. Although my mom passed away from ovarian cancer, she also had been diagnosed with skin cancer on her arm. In addition to being a lifelong smoker, she also
loved tanning in the sun and in tanning beds. Most skin cancers are a direct result of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. Other UV rays, such as those from tanning beds, should also be avoided.
Sun protection should always be used when spending time outdoors – even when cloudy or in cold weather. The best skin protection is shade or covering up with clothing and hats. Any exposed skin should be protected with SPF 30+.
What Can You Start TODAY?
Approximately 42% of cancer cases and 45% of cancer deaths in the US are linked to risk factors that could be changed. Some of the choices we make can affect our overall health, and may also affect our risk for cancer.
We must start TODAY to make small changes to help reduce our risk of cancer. Not only for our own health, but for our family’s health as well. What change will you make? How can you encourage your kids, your spouse, your family or your friends to join you in a more healthy lifestyle? We can all work together to help lower the risk of cancer in our lives, and in the lives of our loved ones. Visit the American Cancer Society’s “Stay Healthy” webpage for more tips!