Every month there is some sort of health observance serving as a reminder to people that care should be taken with our bodies, our health and our well-being. We’ve only got one shot at this so we better make the most of it, right?! This month, February, is National Cancer Prevention Month. Nearly 1/3 of all cancers are preventable so as you can imagine, there's a lot you can do to protect yourself simply by making a few lifestyle changes. Here are a few things you can do to reduce your risk for cancer:
Get screened regularly and know your health history: Regular screenings play a big role in cancer detection and prevention and knowing your family’s health history is important for lowering your risk for certain cancers. For example, if your family has a history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, make sure that you are going in for regular visits with your gynecologist and ask about genetic testing to determine your risks. Share you history with him/her so that they can have a better understanding of your individual healthcare needs.
Eat Right and Exercise: Enough information is out there about this that it almost seems redundant to even mention it, but still I must. Eat your broccoli. Talk a brisk walk 3-4 times a week. Pick up a 5-pound weight or do some yoga. Not only will you be lowering your risk for cancer, but you’ll also be reducing your risk for a plethora of other diseases and health problems.
Don’t Smoke and Drink in Moderation: Smoking accounts for 30% of all cancer deaths so why light up? Your lungs are doing a good job for you so why not return the favor? Enough said. As for alcohol, we’ve all heard about the benefits of a glass of red wine, but that’s the occasional glass, not the whole bottle at every sitting. The antioxidant found in red wine that’s believed to provide health benefits, Resveratrol (a compound found largely in the skin of red grapes), can just as easily be found in grape juice so use good judgment and your body will thank you for it.
Limit Your Exposure to the Sun and Always Wear Sunscreen: Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in the US. Not only does too much sun exposure significantly increase your risk for skin cancer, but that tan will eventually fade and leave you with sunspots and leathery skin. Not cute. So slap on some sunscreen and take care of the largest organ in your body – your skin!
I’ve only just touched upon some things you can do to reduce your risk for cancer so do a little research and talk to your doctor for a more comprehensive list. As any cancer survivor will tell you, it’s not a journey you want to go on willingly, so do what you can, when you can to live your best life.