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6 things you can do today to limit cancer risk

Last Modified: 9/25/2019

According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2018, more than 1 million Americans were diagnosed with some form of cancer. While so many factors are out of our control, there are lifestyle aspects that can have an impact on our risk. Here are some suggestions for changes you can make to reduce the likelihood of an unwanted diagnosis in the future.

6 steps to reducing cancer risk

1. Stop smoking
Cancers linked to tobacco use make up 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States. We know that quitting isn’t easy. Once you commit to giving up the habit, It’s important to get support and develop a plan that will set you up for success.

Parkview resources:
Freedom from Smoking program

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2. Maintain a healthy weight
While more research is needed, existing studies show that a high body mass index (BMI) has been shown to increase the risk of endometrial, esophageal, gastric cardia, liver, kidney, multiple myeloma, meningioma, pancreatic, colorectal, colon and rectal cancers, gallbladder and breast cancers. According to Jolynn Wann, FNP-C, PPG – Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery, if you’re considered overweight or obese, and can lose as little as 5 percent of their total body weight, you will begin to lower your risk.

Parkview resources:
Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery

My Best Health

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3. Get the HPV vaccine
You might be surprised to know that more than 30,000 people are diagnosed with a cancer caused by HPV every year. That’s one every 20 minutes. The HPV vaccine is strongly recommended for boys and girls. It can protect them from infection with the most common types of HPV that can cause cancer when they get older. HPV is known to cause most cervical cancers and is also linked to cancers of the vulva, vagina, penis, anus and throat.

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4. Protect yourself from the sun
One person dies from melanoma every hour. One UK study found that about 86 percent of melanomas can be attributed to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, experienced from exposure to the sun. It’s important to apply sunscreen with an SPF of no less than 15 routinely, to reapply throughout the duration of your time in the sun, and to wear protective clothing and headwear when possible. People also need to know what to look for on their skin that could be a warning sign and observe routine skin checks.

Parkview resources:
PPG – Dermatology

Parkview Cancer Institute – Skin Care team

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5. Get your family history
It’s important to know what conditions are prevalent in your family. This includes multiple generations. Take some time to sit down with your loved ones and learn about their medical history. It could motivate you to explore genetic counseling, or do screenings sooner, achieve an earlier diagnosis and treat the disease before it progresses.

Parkview resources:
Parkview Cancer Institute – Genetic Counseling


6. Limit alcohol
Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, larynx (voice box), liver and breast. The more alcohol you consume, the higher the risk, particularly when combined with tobacco use. Enjoy spirits, beer and wine in moderate amounts and always with precaution.

Parkview resources:
Parkview Behavioral Health

Posts to read:
Alcohol use: When to intervene

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