Five Easy Ways to Lower Your Cancer Risk


Female Runner

February is National Cancer Prevention Month. Below are 5 easy ways to help reduce your risk of developing cancer, thanks to Amy Leader, PhD, and Charnita Zeigler-Johnson, PhD, both Assistant Professors in the Department of Medical Oncology.

 1. Healthy diet

It is well known that a poor diet can lead to being overweight or obese, which can increase an individual’s risk for developing cancer. “As we understand more and more about the links between diet and cancer, try to make colorful fruits and vegetables a part of your daily meal,” said Leader. Other tips include watching portion sizes, limiting intake of high-calorie foods and drinks, and reducing intake of processed and red meat.

2. Avoidance of tobacco products

Cigarettes and other forms of tobacco products are a leading cause of cancer and cancer-related death. Tobacco use is a risk factor for numerous cancers, including lung, mouth, throat, colon, and stomach. It’s important to reduce your exposure to any form of tobacco as much as possible, including secondhand smoke.

3. Physical activity

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity every week. Even if this kind of exercise is not possible, try to take time to move every day for at least 30 minutes. Remember — walking counts!

4. Cancer screenings

Talk with your primary care doctor about which cancer screening tests are most appropriate. Screenings are available for various types of cancer, including breast, cervical, lung, prostate, and colorectal. Catching cancer in its earliest stages is one of the best ways to ensure a positive prognosis.

 5. Knowledge of family history

Only about 5% to 10% of all cancers result directly from gene defects inherited from a parent, according to the ACS. However, for families where certain types of cancers are prevalent, it is important to obtain pertinent information about these cancers. “Although the conversation can be a difficult one, talking openly with your family members about their health history allows you to better understand your risk for cancer and other diseases,” said Zeigler-Johnson.