Lowering cancer risks

Reducing your alcohol consumption can lower your risk of developing cancer.

Receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a devastating moment in a person’s life.

While many cancers are treatable, a cancer diagnosis is still a life-changing moment that leaves many people asking themselves if there was something they could have done to prevent getting cancer. It’s easy to take a reactionary approach to a cancer diagnosis, but many people might not know they can take a proactive approach to reduce their risk of developing cancer in the first place.

Though the following tips can’t guarantee you will never receive a cancer diagnosis, they can help you reduce that risk considerably.

Maintain a healthy weight

Numerous studies have indicated that being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing certain cancers. Uterine, breast, prostate and colorectal cancers have all been linked to being overweight or obese. Speak to your physician about a plan to help you lose weight and then maintain that weight. Your doctor should be able to provide insight on nutrition and how you should approach exercise if it’s been awhile since exercise was a part of your daily routine.

Reduce alcohol consumption

A 2007 study from the World Health Organization revealed that daily consumption of 50 grams of alcohol (about 1.8 ounces) doubles or triples a person’s risk of developing mouth, voice box or throat cancers. In addition, many studies have linked alcohol consumption to a heightened risk of primary liver cancer and an increased risk of breast cancer. Also, a variety of studies have linked alcohol consumption to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

Quit smoking or never start

Cigarette smoking is responsible for a majority of cases of lung cancer, which is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. Smoking causes about 90 percent of lung cancer deaths in men and roughly 80 percent of lung cancer deaths in women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Men who smoke are nearly 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than men who don’t, while women who smoke are 13 times more likely to develop lung cancer than women who avoid smoking tobacco. Smoking also increases a person’s risk of developing other cancers, including cancer of the larynx, mouth and throat, kidney, esophagus, bladder and pancreas. Smokers who quit smoking will see their cancer risk reduce dramatically the longer they go without smoking.

Avoid secondhand smoke altogether

Even if you don’t smoke you might be putting yourself at risk if you allow others around you to smoke in your presence. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, exposure to secondhand smoke can increase a person’s risk of developing lung cancer by as much as 30 percent. That’s because the concentration of many toxic and cancer-causing chemicals are still present in secondhand smoke.

Protect your skin

Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays has been linked to skin cancer, which is the most common form of cancer in the U.S. When spending time in the sun, always apply adequate sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15. In addition, wear appropriate clothing, including sunglasses, and seek out shaded areas when spending a significant amount of time in the sun.

Men and women do not have to wait for a diagnosis to start living healthier. Adopting a proactive approach can greatly reduce your risk of developing cancer and a variety of other health issues as well.