Over 1.5 million new cases of cancer are expected to be diagnosed in 2011, and more than 570,000 people in the U.S. will die from cancer this year. But according to the World Health Organization (WHO), at least one-third of all cancers cases could be prevented.
Don’t Use Tobacco
The single greatest cause of cancers that could be prevented is tobacco. Smoking, chewing and other uses of tobacco cause approximately 22 percent of all cancer deaths each year. Smoking can cause cancers of the lung, esophagus (throat), voice box, mouth, kidney, bladder, and more.
You don’t even have to be the one smoking to get cancer from tobacco. Second hand smoke is also a carcinogen (cancer-causing substance). Chewing tobacco is not safe either. It is known to cause oral, esophageal and pancreatic cancer. To lower your risk of cancer, do not use tobacco products. (WHO)
Drinking alcohol adds to your risk of getting mouth, voice box, or throat cancer. Drinking 50 grams of alcohol a day can increase your cancer risk by 2 to 3 times. A standard drink is just less than 14 grams of pure alcohol, so 50 grams is approximately equal to three and a half standard-size drinks. The more alcohol you drink, the faster your cancer risk increases. Help prevent these cancers by avoiding alcohol. (CDC)
Watch Your Body Weight and Activity Level
The second greatest risk factor for developing cancer is not living a healthy lifestyle. Being obese, not being active, and having poor nutrition all create an increased risk for cancer. Overweight and obese are defined by calculations using height and weight which is known as the Body Mass Index or BMI.
Enter your numbers into this BMI calculator to find your number. Overweight is defined as a BMI of 25-29.9. Obese is defined as a BMI of 30 or higher.
Being overweight or obese accounts for 14 to 20 percent of all cancer-related deaths in the United States. Cancers related to excessive weight include breast, colon, throat, and kidney cancer.
To help prevent cancers related to weight, try to eat a balanced diet with lean meats, plenty of fruits and vegetables, and limited fats to control your weight. It is also important to exercise regularly. Some experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are known to cause skin cancer, which is both one of the most common and one of the most preventable types of cancer. Whenever possible, avoid exposing your skin to the sun. Stay in the shade or wear protective clothing, and make sure you keep reapplying the sun screen.
The sun’s rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so avoid being out in the sun during those times. Tanning beds and sun lamps provide the same damaging rays as the sun. Protect yourself from skin cancer by protecting your skin from UV radiation.
Infections from certain viruses and bacteria can cause conditions that increase your risk for cancer. Hepatits B and C viruses are known to cause cancer of the liver, human papilloma virus leads to cancer of the cervix, and Helicobacter pylori bacteria can increase your risk of stomach cancer.
Some infections are more common in developing countries. You can help prevent these cancers by using good hygiene and other techniques to avoid infection, and by getting vaccinate to prevent infection from hepatitis B. There currently is no vaccine available for hepatis C.
Whether or not it is possible to prevent a particular cancer from developing, all cancers are the same in that the earlier they are found the more likely they are to respond to treatment. Never ignore symptoms that could indicate a serious condition like cancer. And take advantage of known screening opportunities.
Cancer screening is available for cancer of the skin, colon, prostate, cervix, and breast as well as others. Some of these tests detect pre-cancerous conditions that can be treated before actual cancer develops. Early detection can be a key to successful cancer prevention and treatment.
World Health Organization. Cancer Prevention. Web. October 19, 2011.
American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2011. Web. October 19, 2011.
Mayo Clinic. Cancer prevention: 7 tips to reduce your risk. Web. October 19, 2011.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cancer Prevention. Web. October 19, 2011.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cancer Prevention and Control. Web. October 19, 2011.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Alcohol and Public Health FAQ. Web. October 19, 2011.
Reviewed October 20, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith