Ways You Can Reduce Risks for Cancer
Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health estimate that up to 75% of American cancer deaths can be prevented. Wisconsin Cancer Collaborative has great resources on risk reduction. Although we still don’t know all of the reasons that cancer strikes, we do have some important ways we reduce our risk.
Below are Ten Ways to Reduce Your Risk and Stay Healthy (sources: Mayo Clinic staff, Wisconsin Cancer Collaborative, Harvard School of Public Health, National Cancer Institute)
1. Quit Smoking and Avoid Secondsmoke!
This is one of the most important things you can do for you and your family. And don’t substitute e-cigarettes or chewing tobacco - avoid commercial tobacco of any kind. For free assistance and a customized quit plan, call the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line at 1-800-QUIT NOW or text "READY" to 200-400 (messaging and data rates may apply).
Special note: American Indians in Wisconsin have a sacred relationship with their original tobacco which is a healing and spiritual tradition, not an addictive one.
2. Eat fresh! More beans and greens, less processed!
Being overweight increases your risk for 13 different cancers, including the most common cancers in Richland County: breast and colorectal. To reduce risk, eat fruits, veggies and whole grains and avoid processed meats,such as hot dogs, sausages and bacon. It’s especially important that you reduce your consumption of saturated fat and red meat, which may increase the risk of colon cancer and a more aggressive form of prostate cancer. 36 Foods to Lower Risk
3. Move More and Exercise Often.
Regular exercise is incredibly important, both to help stay at a healthy weight but exercise will help protect you even if you don't lose weight. Physical activity has been linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer. Exercise also appears to reduce a woman's risk of breast and possibly reproductive cancers. For SURVIVORS, excercise has been getting attention with research showing it as the #1 way to improve survival. Richland FIT posts local events & resources.
4. Relax, laugh, breathe deeply...
Even though we live in a world full of stress, find ways to destress. Stress reduces your body’s immune function, which makes it easier to get sick. Check with your workplace or insurance company as they may provide discounts to alternative medicine or yoga classes. And remember, taking walks or sitting on a bench in our beautiful Richland County parks is free for all. A "forest bath", simply walking or sitting in the woods, has been proven to improve health.
5. Say goodbye to or limit alcohol use.
If you choose to drink, limit yourself to no more than one drink a day or just a few on any one occasion. When you drink alcohol, your body breaks it down into a chemical called acetaldehyde, which damages your DNA. It increases risk for cancers of the mouth, larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, and colon; it also increases a woman's risk of breast cancer.
Check out our local coalition working to create a healthier community Partners for Prevention
6. Enjoy the sun SAFELY and reduce exposure to radon.
Check your home for radon, which increases lung cancer risk. Protect yourself from UV radiation in sunlight - skin cancer is INCREASING in Wisconsin.
• Stay out of the sun between 10 and 4 when the sun is strongest.
• Stay in the shade and cover up when in the sun. Use sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat.
• Don't skimp on sunscreen. Use at least 30 SPF and reapply often.
• Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. These are just as damaging as natural sunlight.
7. Stay away from chemical toxins.
Try to use natural products for lawncare or gardening, instead of pesticides/herbicides.this may include baking soda or flaming weeds instead of RoundUp.
Farmers should reduce herbicide use and always use strong protective measures.
Employers should take the strongest measures to improve workplaces that use chemical solvents.
8. Make sure young people get an HPV vaccine.
A vaccine that can PREVENT cancer? YES! Almost all cervical cancer is caused by HPV. Other cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx (back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils) are also caused by HPV. Getting an HPV vaccine before age 13 is an amazing new tool to safely and effectively prevent many cancers.
9. Get your quality zzzzzz's.
It may be tough given our active lifestyles, but making quality sleep a priority is a key to a healthier immune system. Plus insufficient sleep is associated with weight gain, which is a cancer risk factor.
10. Get enough vitamin D.
Many experts now recommend 800 to 1,000 IU a day, a goal that's nearly impossible to attain without taking a supplement. It's especially important in our cloudy Wisconsin winters. Although protection is far from proven, evidence suggests that vitamin D may help reduce the risk of prostate cancer, colon cancer, and other malignancies. But don't count on other supplements.