Approximately 1,900,000 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer this year and more than 609,000 will die. However, research shows that up to 50% of cancer cases and about 50% of cancer deaths are preventable with the knowledge we have today. Prevention and early detection are more important than ever — and are proven, effective strategies to lower health care costs.
You make choices every day that affect your health. Follow our Seven Steps to Prevent Cancer to reduce your risk.
The use of tobacco products has been linked to many types of cancer, including lung, colorectal, breast, throat, cervical, bladder, mouth and esophageal. It’s never too late to quit. About 90 percent of all lung cancer is related to smoking. Non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke are also at risk for lung cancer and other respiratory conditions.
Skin cancer is the most common and most preventable cancer in the United States. More than 96,400 people are diagnosed with melanoma annually. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation causes most skin cancer. Be sure to use adequate sun protection year-round. Never use indoor tanning beds.
Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains. Limit red meat and cut out processed meats. For healthy recipe ideas, visit our blog. It is also important to limit alcohol consumption because alcohol can increase your risk for liver, colorectal and breast cancers. If you drink alcohol, have no more than two drinks a day if you are a man or one drink a day if you are a woman.
Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day can make a big difference in your general health and well-being. Inactivity and obesity have been linked to breast and colorectal cancer, and there is also some evidence of a link to lung and pancreatic cancer. Add exercise to your routine to reduce stress, increase energy, boost your immune system, control your weight and reduce your risk for cancer.
Many strains of the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV, are spread through skin to skin contact during vaginal, anal and oral sex. High-risk strains of HPV have increasingly been found to cause many types of cancer. The Hepatitis B virus (HBV) can also be spread from person to person through unprotected sex. It can cause long-term liver infections that can increase a person’s chance of developing liver cancer.
Certain viruses have been linked to cancer, but are preventable through vaccination. Talk to your health care professional about the age recommendations for HPV vaccines. In the U.S., approximately one-third of liver cancers are linked to the hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). An HBV vaccination is available and is recommended for babies, older children who were not vaccinated earlier and adults who are at risk for HBV infection.
Talk to your health care professional about cancer screening. Some tests can help detect cancer early, when treatment is more likely to be successful, and some can also detect precancerous conditions before they become cancer. While screening has been proven to save lives, screening guidelines aren’t always “one size fits all.”