While you can’t escape genetics, there are many environmental and lifestyle factors that you can control when it comes to facing cancer.
Get regular cancer screenings.
Screening tests are available for various types of cancers, such as breast, colorectal, prostate, and cervical cancers. Having regular screening can increase your chances of discovering cancer early, when it may be treated more effectively.
“It is important to talk with your doctor about cancer screening, when you should begin having certain screenings, and how often,” says Paul F. Engstrom, M.D., senior vice president of extramural research programs at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. “If you are concerned about your risk of cancer or your family’s risk, you also may want to make an appointment with Fox Chase’s Risk Assessment Program.”
Don’t smoke or use tobacco.
Smoking cigarettes is linked to an increased risk of developing many types of cancers, including bladder, cervical, esophageal, kidney, lung, oral, pancreatic, and stomach cancers.
“Quitting smoking, or not starting the habit at all, is the best thing you can do to help prevent cancer, no matter your age and even if you’ve smoked for years,” says Roy A. Williams, MD, Hematologist/Oncologist at the PinnacleHealth-Fox Chase Cancer Center.
In addition, the use of other tobacco products, such as chewing tobacco, has been linked to an increased risk of oral and pancreatic cancers. Even if you don’t smoke, being around those who do can increase your risk of cancer through exposure to secondhand smoke.
Eat a healthy diet.
Make an effort to include plenty of fruits and vegetables in your diet, as well as whole grains and beans. Limit your intake of red meats and high-fat foods. And if you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
Get regular exercise.
Research has shown that people who lead a physically active lifestyle have a lower risk of certain cancers than those who are sedentary. These types of cancers include colorectal cancer, postmenopausal breast cancer, and endometrial cancer. Exercising and eating right also will help you maintain a healthy weight. This is important as obesity can increase your cancer risk.Aim to fit about 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine. Find something you enjoy, whether it’s going for a brisk walk, playing a sport, riding your bike, or taking a fitness class.
Protect your skin from the sun.
“Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause freckles and wrinkles, of course, but in more serious cases, sun exposure can lead to skin cancer,” says Dr. Williams. “Even in winter, the sun’s UV rays can do damage to your skin.”
Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15 or higher every day. Limit sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Wear sunglasses with 99-100 percent UV absorption to protect your eyes and the surrounding skin. Avoid other sources of UV light, such as tanning beds and sun lamps.
Learn more about cancer risk and resources at the PinnacleHealth-Fox Chase Cancer Center - www.pinnaclehealth.org/cancer or call 717-657-7500.
As a Fox Chase Cancer Center Partner, PinnacleHealth has early access to new research discoveries on cancer prevention and treatment. Fox Chase Cancer Center Partners is a select group of community hospitals in Pennsylvania and New Jersey affiliated with Fox Chase Cancer Center to provide the latest in cancer research, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment in their own communities. Fox Chase Cancer Center Partners offers patients, families, and their physicians enhanced resources to deal with the burden of cancer, including the newest clinical trials.
About Pinnacle Health System
PinnacleHealth is a pioneer not-for-profit healthcare system dedicated to providing and improving the health and quality of life for the people of Central Pennsylvania since 1873. A proven leader in medical innovation, PinnacleHealth offers a wide range of services from primary care to the most complex surgeries and Magnet recognition for nursing excellence.The healthcare network includes four campuses (Community, Cumberland, Harrisburg and Polyclinic) and medical services, including family practice, imaging, outpatient surgery and oncology, at multiple locations throughout the region. For a complete list of services, visit our website at www.pinnaclehealth.org.