Get Ahead of the Game: Increase Your Odds of Preventing Cancer
Fall means football, and as any great football coach knows, a solid game plan is key. Just like football, cancer needs a plan to boost our odds to prevent and/or beat this disease. A solid effort to keep a proper diet, take part in routine physical activity and perform cancer screenings should be part of everyone’s prevention playbook.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) tells us healthy choices can lower our chances for getting cancer. Spending too much time on the couch can actually increase our cancer risk. In fact, mixed with alcohol and tobacco use, poor diet and high body fat, low activity levels are to blame for 20 percent of all U.S. cancers. Here are more ACS tips on how to lower our cancer risk:
- Limit alcohol to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink for women.
- Don’t use tobacco products.
- Get at least 150 minutes of simpler exercise or 75 minutes of harder exercise throughout each week.
- Add as many fruits and veggies in your diet as you can—at least 2½ cups each day.
- Limit red meat and stay away from processed meats, such as lunch meats and hot dogs.
- Uphold a healthy weight.
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and limit being outdoors between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
While a healthy lifestyle goes a long way toward preventing cancer, it’s no guarantee. That’s why routine cancer screenings are also crucial. If cancer is found, screenings can ensure treatment will start early when it has the best chance for success. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) suggests these cancer prevention actions:
Breast Cancer Prevention Medications - The USPSTF suggests that clinicians take part in shared, informed decision making with women who are at higher risk for breast cancer about medications to lower their risk. For women who are at greater risk for breast cancer and at low risk for adverse medication effects, clinicians should offer to prescribe risk-reducing medications, such as tamoxifen or raloxifene.
Breast Cancer Screenings - The USPSTF suggests screening mammography for women, with or without clinical breast examination, every 1 to 2 years for women age 40 years and older.
Cervical Cancer Screenings - The USPSTF suggests screening for cervical cancer in women ages 21 to 65 years with cytology (Pap smear) every 3 years or, for women ages 30 to 65 years who want to lengthen the screening interval, screening with a blend of cytology and human papillomavirus (HPV) testing every 5 years. Colorectal Cancer Screenings - The USPSTF suggests screening for colorectal cancer using fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy in adults starting at age 50 years up until age 75 years. The risks and benefits of these screening methods differ.
Lung Cancer Screenings - The USPSTF suggests yearly screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography in adults ages 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Screening should stop once a person has not smoked for 15 years or develops a health problem that substantially limits life expectancy or the ability or willingness to have curative lung surgery.
Skin Cancer Behavioral Counseling - The USPSTF suggests teaching children, adolescents, and young adults ages 10 to 24 years who have fair skin about minimizing their exposure to ultraviolet radiation to lower risk for skin cancer. Take these steps to be your own best coach and raise the odds for winning seasons in your personal fight against cancer.