Cancer is no longer an automatic death sentence. Oncologists continually increase our chances of surviving cancer with new and improved medical care as well as better early detection tests. But we each hold the key to fulfilling our own hopes by doing what we can to prevent cancer. Regular checkups and monthly self-exams improve the odds of survival by providing early diagnosis. Proper diet, regular exercise, and attempts to stay clear of carcinogens help improve the odds of avoiding cancer.
Making personal choices
- Stop smoking. Smoking accounts for about 30 percent of all cancer deaths and 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths. Those who smoke two or more packs of cigarettes a day have lung cancer mortality rates 17 to 25 times greater than those of nonsmokers.
- Avoid excessive sunlight. Almost 600,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer diagnosed each year in the United States are considered to be sun related.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption. Oral cancer and cancers of the larynx, throat, esophagus, breast, and liver occur more frequently among heavy drinkers of alcohol.
- Do not use smokeless tobacco. Use of chewing tobacco or snuff increases risk for cancer of the mouth, larynx, throat, and esophagus and is highly habit forming.
- Properly monitor estrogen use. Estrogen treatment to control menopausal symptoms may increase risk for endometrial cancer. While estrogen therapy does seem to lower women’s risk for heart disease and osteoporosis, it should not be undertaken without careful discussion between a woman and her physician.
- Avoid occupational exposures to carcinogens. Exposure to several different industrial agents increases risk for various cancers. Risk from asbestos is greatly increased when combined with cigarette smoking.
- Avoid obesity. Risk for colon, breast, ovarian, endometrial and uterine cancers increases in obese people.
- Eat your fruits and vegetables. Eat at least five serving fruits and vegetables every day to reduce your risk.
- Cut back on fats. Reduce fat consumption, especially rated fats and red meats, to reduce risk for colon, bi prostate, pancreatic, and ovarian cancers.
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