10 Ways to Reduce Your Cancer Risk

Published on December 3, 2010

Updated on September 17, 2020

The Foundation’s #2PreventCancer Campaign is encouraging individuals to take simple steps every day to reduce their cancer risk and to share these smart choices, no matter how big or small, with others. We believe that together we can support each other on our journey to live smart, healthy lifestyles – one tweet or Facebook status update at a time. With help from our Medical Advisory Board and other leading experts, we have compiled a list of 10 ways to help you get started today.

1. Quit smoking
“One out of every two deaths before age 65 in our society is due to smoking,” said James Mulshine, M.D., professor of internal medicine and associate provost for research at Rush University Medical Center. You can add up to 10 years to your life by quitting.  Strive to break the addiction, and create smoke-free environments in your home and community.

2. Get screened
Be sure to continue annual screening tests like the Pap test and mammogram if you are a woman, and talk to your healthcare professional about the pros and cons of a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test if you are a man. Both the Pap test and PSA can detect cellular changes before they become cancerous, and the mammogram can detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. Fifty is the magic age for colon cancer screening. Remember, some cancers are over 90 percent curable if detected early, so don’t forget to schedule your 2011 screening!

3. Lose excess weight
Being overweight is one of the main risk factors for uterine, colon, breast, esophageal and kidney cancers. Both ovarian and pancreatic cancers have also been linked to excess weight. “When you’re overweight by any amount, you’re absolutely increasing your cancer risk,” said Curtis Miyamoto, M.D., professor and chair of radiation oncology at Temple University Hospital. If you are overweight or obese, losing weight will likely reduce your cancer risk.

4. Be active
“Where cancer prevention is concerned, physical activity is important to maintaining a normal, healthy body weight,” says Richard C. Wender, M.D., Chairman of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. Shape up — make the effort to become physically active for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.

5. Eat more green
According to a study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research annual international conference, Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research, eating four or more salads a week may further reduce a former smoker’s risk for lung cancer. Vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which help repair cells damaged by smoking. But we all know how important eating more green is to overall good health — just do it!

6. Limit alcohol consumption
Drinking alcohol in excess is associated with an increased risk of a number of cancers including liver cancer and colon cancer. Generally accepted limits are one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

7. Add some color to your diet
A recent study found that anthocyanins — the compounds that give fruits and veggies intense red, purple, or blue hues — may slow or prevent the growth of colon cancer. “Anthocyanins are not absorbed efficiently into the bloodstream,” said study author Monica Giusti, Ph.D., assistant professor of food science at Ohio State University, “so they remain in the gastrointestinal tract, where they interact with the tissues.”  Try working more colorful fruits and vegetables into your diet.

8. Cut back on red meats
Any meat is a great source of protein, but white meats like fish and seafood are the healthiest choice, said Andrew Weil, M.D., founder and director of the Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona’s College of Medicine. Red meats like beef, pork and lamb have a high fat content, which promotes inflammation — a contributing factor in the development of many chronic diseases, including cancer.

9. Wear sunscreen
Skin cancer is the most common and most preventable of cancers. “The most important thing you can do is limit sun exposure and protect your head and neck, where most skin cancers appear, with a sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB radiation,” said Darrell Rigel, M.D., professor of dermatology at New York University School of Medicine.

10. Breastfeed
Attention all mothers-to-be! The longer you breastfeed your baby the greater your breast cancer risk is reduced, according to a study published in the July 20, 2002, issue of The Lancet.


You made a great point when you talked about how it is important to get annual screenings so that you can reduce your risk of cancer. My family has a history of testicular cancer, and I am worried that I might develop it the older I get. I’m going to have to start going in for regular screenings.


It’s interesting that 90% of some cancers are curable when it’s detected early. Prostate cancer runs in my family and I’m worried that as I get older, it’s only a matter of time before I get it myself. It’s probably smart to now get regular screenings to detect anything early.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I accept the Privacy Policy



News | Mar 26, 2024 Feeling Cheeky: Meet David Russo, founder of Cheeky Charity
News | Mar 22, 2024 Prevent Cancer Foundation to visit Comadre a Comadre in Albuquerque
News | Mar 20, 2024 How eating the right foods can reduce your colorectal cancer risk
News | Mar 7, 2024 Colorectal cancer screening options: What’s right for me?
News | Feb 27, 2024 Serve, dink, protect: Inky Dink Do Pickleball and the Prevent Cancer Foundation team up for awareness and prevention
News | Feb 26, 2024 A sister’s legacy: Insights from the lung cancer journey of a young non-smoker
News | Jan 31, 2024 My house had high levels of radon — here’s how I fixed it
News | Jan 30, 2024 Cervical cancer: Causes, symptoms, and screening recommendations
News | Jan 24, 2024 HPV and cervical cancer: What the connection means for your child
News | Jan 23, 2024 5 years after testicular cancer diagnosis, AGDQ’s Keizaron is cancer-free
News | Jan 16, 2024 Turtle power: A healthier pizza option for the TMNT speedrun
News | Jan 12, 2024 What to know about prostate cancer after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s diagnosis
News | Jan 10, 2024 Prevent Cancer Foundation awards $380,000 in global innovation grants
News | Jan 9, 2024 5 questions you’re hesitant to ask the gynecologist
News | Jan 2, 2024 Confusion about insurance coverage for cervical cancer screenings contributes to missed screening
News | Dec 11, 2023 Lung cancer screening on wheels: Congressional Families Program catches up with LUCAS
News | Dec 7, 2023 From grant writing to groundbreaking: Dr. Rubén Pío’s lung cancer research journey
News | Nov 21, 2023 I never knew my mom had cancer: Caitlin’s story
News | Nov 16, 2023 I didn’t have COVID – I had lung cancer: Kim’s story
News | Nov 9, 2023 Congressional Families Program to visit WVU Cancer Institute’s LUCAS unit
News | Nov 2, 2023 Prevent Cancer Foundation responds to new lung cancer screening guidelines issued by the American Cancer Society
News | Nov 1, 2023 Matthijs Oudkerk, M.D., Ph.D., to be honored with the James L. Mulshine, M.D., International Leadership Award for instrumental role ensuring global acceptance of lung cancer screening
News | Nov 1, 2023 Confusion around lung cancer screening contributes to low screening rates
News | Oct 31, 2023 Four community programs making a difference when it comes to breast cancer

Sign up to get the latest about cancer prevention and early detection directly in your inbox.