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It might be rare to think of cancer and control in the same sentence, but according to Naresh Gupta, M.D., an oncologist on the Baylor Regional Medical Center at Plano medical staff, we all have some control over our cancer risk. He offers these six steps to help reduce your cancer risk:
Step 1. Tackle your tobacco habit. If you’re a tobacco user, quitting is the best thing you can do to immediately reduce your cancer risk. Smoking and chewing tobacco can both lead to various types of cancer including lung, esophageal and bladder cancer.
Step 2. Watch your weight. The National Cancer Institute reports that an estimated 20 percent to 30 percent of most common cancers may be related to being overweight and/or a lack of physical activity. Manage your caloric intake and increase your aerobic exercise to keep your weight and your cancer risk of developing breast and colon cancer in check.
Step 3. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamins C and E, carotenoids, and other phytochemicals, which are thought to have a protective benefit against cancer.
Step 4. Increase your sun protection. Skin cancer is one of the most prevalent cancers, but you don’t have to shun the sun entirely to reduce your risk. When you’re outdoors (even if it’s not warm), wear sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Wear a hat that protects your head and ears, and when possible, avoid the peak hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. And remember, tanning beds aren’t the answer—they can increase your cancer risk, too.
Step 5. Moderate your alcohol consumption. Alcohol increases the risk of various cancers, including head and neck cancer and the development of liver cancer. If you do drink alcohol, try to limit yourself to one (for women) or two drinks (for men) per day.
Step 6. Get screened. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, cancer is unavoidable. We can, however, make sure we have the advantage in the fight. Screenings help catch cancer early, and early detection is the key to beating cancer once it strikes.
The recommended timing for screenings can vary depending on your personal risk factors and family health history. Your doctor can help you develop a screening schedule, but for general guidelines, visit our HealthSource Library.
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