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5 Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

Posted by Johnson Memorial Health on Oct 12, 2016

We are winning the battles in the War on Cancer.

Advanced treatment options are helping cancer patients live longer, and – in many cases – achieve full remission.

While researchers continue to focus on new drug and radiation therapies and revolutionary surgical procedures to treat cancers, their focus also is being placed on prevention.

A Harvard Medical School study released in May concluded that 40 percent of cancer cases and 50 percent of cancer-related deaths can be prevented by better lifestyle habits.

The National Cancer Institute says the studies are ongoing – but the results so far are consistent. If you practice a healthier lifestyle, you greatly reduce your risk of many types of cancers.


Here are 5 ways (or lifestyle changes) that could make a difference.

Stop smoking and chewing tobacco. This is easier said than done. But the research is overwhelmingly conclusive. Cancers of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney are connected to smoking and second-hand smoke. Likewise, tobacco chewing is known to cause oral and pancreatic cancers. If you need help stopping, the Partnership for a Healthier Johnson County offers a game plan.

Take off those extra pounds. According to the American Cancer Society, being overweight or obese accounts for 20 percent of all cancer deaths among women and 14 percent among men. If you need help getting to a healthy weight, Johnson Memorial’s Weight Loss and Wellness Center can get you there.

Ramp up your exercise. One study showed that regular exercise cuts the risk of breast cancer by 18 percent. The Mayo Clinic says that 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity reduces risks of several cancers. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine. If you can do more, even better, Mayo recommends.

Eat your super fruits and vegetables. The American Institute for Cancer Research claims that foods of plant origin have links to cancer prevention. These include broccoli, berries, and garlic. One study, for example, shows that magnesium in dark greens affects the cell signaling process in cancer. These phytochemicals seem to protect cells from harmful compounds in food and in the environment, as well as prevent cell damage and mutations, according to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Antioxidants in Vitamin C - found in citrus fruits – also boost the body’s immune system. Read more about Super Foods that help fight cancer.

Protect yourself when outside. The path to melanoma is clear – the sun and tanning booths give off ultraviolet radiation. While a suntan might look healthy, long term exposure to UV radiation damages the skin, and leads to cancer. Other than avoiding long periods in the sun, wearing long sleeves and a hat, and using sunscreen with a minimum of 15 Sun Protection Factor are the best ways to prevent skin cancer. Also, it is important to remember that UV radiation can go through windows and windshields and are reflected by sand, water, snow and ice.

For more information about cancer prevention, contact the Johnson Memorial Cancer Care Center at 317.736.3346. 

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Topics: Cancer