According to the American Association for Cancer Research, almost half of all cancers are preventable. Following these tips from the Mayo Clinic and Harvard Health can help you protect your health now and well into the future.
- If you smoke, quit. The link between tobacco use and cancer is well-documented. It increases your risk of cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, voice box, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. In fact, just being exposed to secondhand smoke can increase your risk.
- Eat more fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. Research suggests that people who follow a Mediterranean diet may have a lower risk of cancer. A Mediterranean diet includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and healthy fats, which are found in foods like avocados, olive oil and fish.
- Cut out processed meat. According to the World Health Organization, eating processed meat is directly linked to colorectal cancer.
- Limit alcohol. Excessive alcohol consumption can put you at greater risk for many kinds of cancers, including breast cancer. It’s best to cut out alcohol altogether, but if you do indulge, limit yourself to one drink per day.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can put you at an increased risk of some cancers, including breast and prostate cancer.
- Stay active. The more physical activity you get, the better. But a good benchmark is 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week, or 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity per week.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Skin cancer is among the most common types of cancer, but it’s also largely preventable. Wear a broad-spectrum SPF sunscreen every day, stay away from tanning beds, and avoid direct sun exposure, especially in the afternoon.
- Get the Hepatitis B and HPV vaccines. Hepatitis B can increase your risk of liver cancer, and HPV can cause cervical and other genital cancers. Simply getting vaccinated can help protect you against these viral infections.
- Limit your exposure to radiation. Get medical imaging only when necessary, and have your home checked for radon.
- Avoid known carcinogens like asbestos, benzene and polychlorinated biphenyls.
Making lifestyle changes isn’t easy, but it is doable. If you’re worried about your cancer risk, speak with your health care provider about these and other ways to protect your health.