NEWARK—At the start of each New Year, 100 million Americans make resolutions, with top goals that include saving money, losing weight and developing healthy lifestyles. The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to adopt lifestyle changes that can help to prevent cancer. Research has shown that at least one-third of all cancer cases are preventable.
“Four of every 10 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetimes, but there are many things that individuals can do to reduce their risk of cancer,” report Alice Cohen, M.D., F.A.C.P., Director of the Frederick B. Cohen, MD, and Comprehensive Cancer & Blood Disorders Center at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.
10 Recommendations for Cancer Prevention from Newark Beth Israel Medical Center:
1. Eat a healthy diet
There is a link between obesity and many types of cancer, such as esophagus, colorectal, breast, endometrial and kidney. Diets high in fruits and vegetables may have a protective effect against many cancers. Avoid overconsumption of sugared drinks, refined carbohydrates and fatty foods. Eat lean protein such as fish or chicken breast and eat red meat in moderation. Eat whole grains and choose vegetable oils over animal fats.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese may increase your risk of cancer. Aim to be a healthy weight throughout life. Obesity raises the risk of breast cancer after menopause, the time of life when breast cancer most often occurs. Avoid gaining weight over time, and try to maintain a body-mass index.
3. Include physical activity in your daily routine
Research suggests that increased physical activity, even when begun later in life, reduces overall cancer risk by about 10 to 30 percent. Be physically active every day for 30 minutes or more. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, start out slowly and work your way up to 30 minutes or longer.
4. Don’t use tobacco
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. for both men and women and the most preventable form of cancer death. Tobacco smoking causes many types of cancer, including cancers of the lung, esophagus, larynx, mouth, throat, kidney, bladder, pancreas, stomach and cervix. It is never too late to quit smoking. For help in New Jersey, visit Barnabas Health Behavioral Health Network’s Tobacco Dependence Treatment Program website or call 1-973-926-7978.
5. Protect yourself from the sun
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is carcinogenic to humans, causing all major types of skin cancer. Globally in 2000, over 200, 000 cases of melanoma were diagnosed and there were 65 000 melanoma-associated deaths. Avoiding excessive exposure, use sunscreen and protective clothing. UV-emitting tanning devices (tanning beds) are also classified as carcinogenic to humans based on their association with skin cancers.
6. Get immunized
Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Hepatitis B can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is routinely given to infants and it is also recommended for certain high-risk adults. HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine is available to both men and women age 26 or younger who didn’t have the vaccine as an adolescent.
7. Cut your exposures to environmental carcinogens.
Environmental pollution of air, water and soil with carcinogenic chemicals accounts for 1–4 percent of all cancers, according to the World Health Organization. Bisphenol-A (BPA), a synthetic estrogen found in some hard plastic water bottles, canned infant formula, and canned foods, may increase the risk of reproductive system cancers. To avoid it, eat fewer canned foods, breast feed your baby or use powdered formula, and choose water bottles free of BPA.
8. Limit alcohol use
Alcohol use is a risk factor for many cancer types including cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colorectal and breast. Risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed. Drink in moderation.
9. Take early detection seriously
Recognizing possible warning signs of cancer and taking prompt action leads to early diagnosis. Some early signs of cancer include lumps, sores that fail to heal, abnormal bleeding, persistent indigestion, and chronic hoarseness. Early diagnosis is particularly relevant for cancers of the breast, cervix, mouth, larynx, colon and rectum, and skin.
10. For those at high risk, consider genetic counseling
Family history features associated with inherited cancer include multiple generations affected with the same type or related types of cancer, individuals who have developed cancer at unusually young ages, and individuals who have developed more than one primary cancer. If you are in this category, consider visiting a genetic counselor.
Help from the Frederick B. Cohen, MD., Center
As the leading cancer center in greater Newark and Northern New Jersey, the Frederick B. Cohen, MD., Center offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and highly personalized approach to treating patients, and not just their cancer. For an appointment, call 1-973-926-7230.
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