Cancer: Play your part in preventing cancer
May 17, 2018 12:00AM ● Published by Brian Saucedo
Let’s talk about the good news first: Deaths from cancer have dropped 26 percent in the past 25 years, largely due to fewer people smoking and advances in cancer prevention. As there often is when it comes to cancer, though, there’s still bad news: Experts predict that more than 600,000 people will die from some form of cancer this year, with a total 1.74 million people being diagnosed with the disease.
This is a sobering thought, particularly in light of new research that found that a whopping 42 percent of cancer cases can be attributed to preventable causes—that is, habits or conditions that a person has control over, such as smoking, dietary habits or physical activity. There are 17 causes in total—what can you do to prevent the disease?
Smoking Responsible for 19 percent of all cancer diagnoses (298,970 cases)
Linked to 19 types of cancer, including esophagus, stomach, liver and pancreas
What you can do: Cut out cigarettes (It’s as simple as that). There have been substantial declines in smoking prevalence during the past 50 years, but it’s still the No. 1 cause of cancer.
Excess Body WeightResponsible for 7.8 percent of diagnoses (123,300 cases) Linked to 13 types of cancer, including gallbladder, breast, ovary, thyroid and multiple myeloma.
What you can do: Research on weight loss and cancer risk is limited; however, there is evidence shedding pounds will decrease the risk of developing cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends working on weight loss to minimize your risk.
Alcohol ConsumptionResponsible for 5.6 percent of diagnoses (87,600) Linked to eight types of cancer, such as lip, pharynx, colorectum and breast
What you can do: Stick to moderate drinking, which is defined as one drink per day for women and two for a man. Limit heavy drinking, which is drinking 15 or more drinks per week for a man and eight drinks or more each week as a woman.
UV RadiationAttributed to 4.7 percent of diagnoses (74,460 cases) Linked to one type of cancer: Melanoma of the skin
What you can do: Take measures to protect your skin from the sun, including using broad-spectrum sunscreens appropriately—that means applying it frequently and after being in the water. Wear hats, protective clothing and sunglasses.
Physical InactivityAttributed to 2.9 percent of diagnoses (46,300 cases) Linked to three types of cancer: Colon, female breast, corpus uteri (the main part of the uterus in a woman)
What you can do: Current recommendations advise at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week—that’s 30 minutes each day, five days a week—as well as two days of strength-training. However, any activity is better than none, particularly when it comes to decreasing cancer risk, so do what you get to get moving.
Low Fruit and Vegetable ConsumptionResponsible for 1.9 percent of cancer diagnoses (29,090 cases) Linked to six types of cancer, including oral cavity, larynx, lung and trachea
What you can do: Find creative ways to add more produce into your diet, such as blending it into smoothies or adding vegetables to spaghetti sauce. Aim to eat at least one serving of fruit or vegetables at every meal, as well as for one snack a day.
HPV InfectionResponsible for 1.8 percent of diagnoses (29,010) Linked to eight types of cancer, such as oral cavity, tonsils and cervix
What you can do: Consider HPV vaccination, which protects females against the type of HPV that causes most cervical cancers. Additionally, practicing safe sex cuts down on the risk.
Low Dietary Fiber ConsumptionAttributed to 0.9 percent of cancer diagnoses (14,460 cases) Linked to colorectum cancer
What you can do: Eat more legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables, all of which have a high fiber content.
Processed Meat ConsumptionResponsible for 0.8 percent of diagnoses (12,650 cases) Linked to two types of cancers: colorectum and stomach
What you can do: Cut out all processed meat, including deli meats, bacon and hot dogs, all of which have sodium nitrite added during processing to preserve color, improve flavor and prevent bacteria growth. Nitrite leads to N-nitroso compounds, which are cancer-causing substances.
Red Meat ConsumptionResponsible for 0.5 percent of cancer diagnoses (7,540 cases) Linked to colorectum cancer
What you can do: Replace some of your meat consumption with other forms of protein, such as poultry, seafood, beans and soy. When you eat red meat, stick to 4-ounce portions per meal.
HIVResponsible for 0.5 percent of diagnoses (7,450 cases) Linked to five types of cancer, including anus, cervix and hodgkin and non-hodgkin lymphoma
What you can do: Get tested for STDs regularly, and avoid risky sexual encounters.
H. Pylori InfectionAttributed to 0.5 percent of diagnoses (7,410 cases) Linked to stomach cancer
What you can do: The CDC doesn’t have any formal recommendations to prevent h. Pylori infections. However, you can practice good hygiene by frequently washing your hands and using proper food safety techniques when cooking.
Hepatitis C VirusResponsible for 0.4 percent of diagnoses (6,940 cases) Linked to stomach cancer
What you can do: If you’re a medical or health care worker, be careful to avoid coming into direct contact with blood. Everyone should avoid sharing personal care items, particularly those that could be exposed to blood, such as razors or nail clippers. If you plan to get a tattoo or piercing, choose the parlor and artist carefully.
Low Dietary Calcium ConsumptionAttributed to 0.4 percent of diagnoses (6,900 cases) Linked to colorectum cancer
What you can do: Take a calcium supplement of 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams every day, depending on age, and boost your intake of dairy products, spinach and other leafy green and seafood such as salmon.
Secondhand Smoke ExposureResponsible for 0.4 percent of diagnoses (5,840 cases) Linked to three types of cancer: Lung, bronchus and trachea
What you can do: If you have any friends or family members who smoke, let them know that you plan to stay away from them when they have a cigarette in hand—it’s not rude when it comes to protecting your health. Avoid areas where you might find smokers.
Hepatitis B VirusAttributed to 0.1 percent of diagnoses (1,760 cases) Linked to liver cancer
What you can do: Ask your doctor for the hepatitis B vaccine, which is up to 95 percent effective and provides protection for at least 20 years.
HerpesResponsible for 0.1 percent of diagnoses (1,040) Linked to one type of cancer: kaposi sarcoma
What you can do: Practice safe sex, including asking new partners about their history of sexually transmitted diseases.