Prevention is defined as reducing the cancer mortality rate by reducing the incidence of cancer.
Prevention is defined as reducing the cancer mortality rate by reducing the incidence of cancer. Reducing cancer can be achieved through making healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a diet low-in fat and high in fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, and little or no alcohol consumption.
Six steps in preventing cancer
- Do not use tobacco. Studies indicate that cigarette smoking is the cause of 90% of the lung cancer cases in the United States.
- Eating a variety of healthy foods. Eat a low-fat diet rich in fruit and vegetables by eating five servings. Eating foods from plant sources such as grains and beans several times a day provide an excellent source of fiber and other beneficial substances. Broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts may reduce your risk of colon and stomach cancer. Limit fat intake by choosing fewer high-fat foods. High fat diets are linked to prostate, colon, rectum, and uterus cancer.
- Limit alcohol consumption by moderately drinking or not drinking at all. Cancer risk increases with the amount of alcohol you drink along with the length of time you have been drinking. Even by drinking moderately your cancer risk increases. Research has shown that drinking could put you at a higher risk for breast cancer. If you are going to drink, men should not drink more than two alcoholic drinks a day. A woman should not drink more than one or fewer drinks a day. If an individual drinks and smokes the risk level may be greater for cancer when used together. Your risk of larynx, mouth, and esophagus cancer increases.
- Maintain a healthy weight & Stay active. Being a healthy weight and regular exercise plays a large role in preventing cancer. More and more studies are showing a link between obesity and cancer, particularly breast, colon, prostate, uterus, ovarian, and rectum cancers. The U.S. Surgeon General and the American Cancer Society recommend that in order to help maintain a healthy lifestyle an individual needs 30 minutes of moderate exercise 4 or more days a week. Exercise is not only good for the body but excellent for the mind. Speak with your physician and he/she can refer you to a physical therapist that can set up an exercise program tailored to fit your needs.
- Protect yourself from the sun. Skin cancer is the most common forms of cancer and it is preventable and treatable if caught early. Sun exposure is the number one cause of skin cancer. Skin cancer normally occurs on parts of the body that are usually exposed to the sun such as the arms, face, and ears.
Here are tips for staying safe in the sun:
- Avoid peak hours. The sun’s rays (UV-Ultraviolet) are most powerful during the hours between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- Stay in the shade, minimize sun exposure.
- Covered exposed areas. Wear a hat that has a broad-brim that covers your head and ears. Wear light colored clothing, which is loose fitting which protects your body from the sun. Make sure to wear fabrics that cover your arms and legs.
- Use sunscreen. Use sunscreen that has a SPF (Sun Protection Factor) of at least 15 and that is waterproof.
- Apply sunscreen every two hours.
- Avoid reflective surfaces.
- Do not use tanning beds or sun lamps.
- Take advantage of screenings. Participating in regular screenings and self-examinations can lead to detecting cancer in its early stages and increasing chance for survival. Screenings should include: skin, mouth, colon, and rectum. Women should add cervix and breast while men should include their testes and prostate.The American Cancer Society offers tips on self-examination. Your local hospital will provide screenings and will list the dates and times in the local paper.
- Other possible cancer fighting strategies. New research is currently being done on certain natural or synthetic agents used to fight cancer, below is a list.
- Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators (SERMs) – These may help reduce the risk of breast cancer in high risk women. Drugs include Tamoxifen and Raloxifene.
- Calcium- a possible link between this and the reduction of risk for colon cancer. Moderation is advised because large amounts increase risk of prostate cancer.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – Aspirin and ibuprofen are being examined alone and with other drugs in combination in protecting against colon cancer.
- Retinoid- A chemical similar to vitamin A may protect against cervix, bladder, mouth, and lung cancer.
Another way to prevent cancer is being aware of your environmental exposures. Be aware of risk factors in your home such as radon gas and where you work such as radiation or chemical areas.
Diet and exercise are the dreaded words that everyone hates to hear, but studies have proven time and time again that these two words are the key to a healthy lifestyle. Cancer risk can be reduced by simply changing the way you eat. There are many dietary factors that affect cancer risk such as the types of food you eat, food preparation methods, portion sizes, food variety, and overall caloric balance. By adding a high proportion of plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and beans and by limiting the amount of meats, high fat foods, and diary in your diet; your cancer risk can be reduced. A low fat diet that includes a high source of fruits and vegetables is the way to go. Studies have now shown that certain fruits and vegetables have cancer-fighting qualities that break down and fight off cancer causing substances. By eating five servings a day of fruits and vegetables your cancer risk can be reduced.Examples of servings include:
- ¼ cup of dried fruit
- 6 oz. or ¾ cup of fruit/vegetable juice (100%)
- Medium size piece of fruit
- ½ cup of beans or dry peas
- One cup of leafy vegetables (raw)
- ½ cup of canned or cooked fruit or vegetables
List of vegetables with cancer-fighting qualities
- Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage
- Kohlrabi, Rutabaga, Turnip, Horseradish
- Radish & Watercress
Leafy Green Vegetables:
- Spinach, Parsley, Mustard Greens
- Green Peppers, Asparagus, & Lettuce
Other Vegetables & Fruit:
- Onions, Garlic, Chives
- Carrots, Sweet Potatoes, Squash
- Beets, Tomatoes, Berries, & Melons
- Oranges, Grapefruit, & Lemons
- Soybeans, Beans, & Peas
Everyday we are exposed to many pollutants in the air such as smoke from cigarettes, exhaust fumes, and industrial smoke. Scientific studies have shown that compounds in the fruits and vegetables listed above help the body flush out these pollutants that can cause cancer.
Eating well is very important but especially important for people with cancer. When fighting cancer and recovering it is important to get the proper nutrition in order to maintain your strength and endurance. Information concerning diet can be explained by a dietitian. Ask your physician for information on finding a dietitian in your area.
The Surgeon General has recommended that 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity- such as walking four days a week can improve one’s health.
The American Cancer Society has adopted this recommendation stating that moderate exercise can help prevent cancer. Exercise is also recommended for those currently undergoing cancer treatment and those that have finished treatment. The benefits of exercise are great not only for the body but also the mind. Exercise is a great way to help with depression.
Studies have shown that activities such as walking, biking, and swimming (aerobic activity) have a positive effect on the quality of life of one’s health during cancer treatment. Some of the benefits of exercise are that it helps with fatigue, depression, and constipation.
Research is still being done on how much exercise aids in preventing cancer. For cancer patients currently being treated; an exercise program should be approved by your physician. Your physician can guide you on what to do and what not to do.
Exercise when you have the most energy; for example when you first wake up in the morning and stopping when you start to feel fatigued.
The intensity level and frequency of exercise will vary depending upon the individual, type of cancer, the treatment, and the symptoms associated with the treatment. Your physician can refer you to a physical therapist that can get you set up on an exercise program that will work for you.
If you have finished your cancer treatment exercise is a great activity to start. Research indicates that a regular program of physical activity can help individuals gain strength, fight fatigue, and improve their mental state.