5 Smart Choices to Help Reduce Your Risk of Cancer

The C word — cancer. It’s scary. In 2016, more than 1.6 million new cases of cancer are anticipated, according to the American Cancer Society.

But there is some good news. Smart choices you make today may help you reduce your cancer risk.

1) Quit tobacco
If you use tobacco, quit. According to the ACS, the benefits of stopping smoking begin almost immediately. By year five, oral and bladder cancer risk is cut in half and cervical cancer risk falls to that of a non-smoker. By year 10, your risk of dying from lung cancer is about half that of a person still smoking.

2) Eat healthy
Eat well and maintain a healthy weight. Nearly 20 percent of all cancers in the U.S. are related to excess body fat, inactivity, alcohol consumption and poor nutrition, reports the World Cancer Research Fund.

You don’t have to give up all of your favorite foods, but eat less high-calorie foods and fill your plate with vegetables, whole fruit and legumes (aim for 2 ½ cups per day). Limit sugar intake, including sweetened soft drinks and sport drinks.

Choose fiber-rich whole grain breads, pastas and cereals, and limit consumption of red meats, alcohol and empty-calorie foods.

3) Get moving
Physical activity reduces cancer risk by helping you achieve/maintain a healthy weight, improving key hormone levels and strengthening your immune system, says the ACS.

Aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate intensity activity (such as brisk walking), or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (such as running), each week in addition to normal activities.

4) Protect skin
The Skin Cancer Foundation projects 76,380 new cases of invasive melanoma will be diagnosed and 10,130 melanoma-related deaths will take place in the U.S. this year.

To prevent skin cancer, avoid the midday sun, and when sun exposure is likely, wear a hat and long sleeves and apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Don’t use tanning beds or sunlamps.

5) Get screened
Taking advantage of  cancer screenings is one of the best things you can do to protect yourself, giving you the opportunity to find a cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat.

Here are five important cancer screening recommendations from the American Cancer Society:
• Breast Cancer: Women who are at average risk for breast cancer should start regular annual screening mammography at age 45. Mammograms should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.

Beginning at age 20, women should talk with their doctor about clinical breast exams and breast self-exams.

• Cervical Cancer: Women from age 21 to 29 should have a Pap test done every three years to screen for cervical cancer. From age 30 to 65, it is recommended women have a Pap test and an HPV (human papilloma virus) test every 5 years; however, the ACS indicates it is still acceptable to have a Pap test alone every three years.

There is also now an HPV vaccine that may help prevent cervical cancer, and it’s recommended for both boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 26.

• Colorectal Cancer:  Starting at age 50, men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should take advantage of colorectal cancer screening. According to the ACS, colorectal cancer screening not only has the potential for finding cancer early, it can actually prevent the cancer from forming in the first place when polyps are found and removed during the procedure.

• Skin Cancer: Most skin cancers can be found early with skin exams. Skin cancer screening can begin with you. The ACS recommends using a full-length mirror to give yourself a once a month self-exam, learning the pattern of your moles, freckles and other marks on the skin and alerting your healthcare provider of any new moles or changes in existing ones.

Your doctor should check your skin carefully as part of a routine cancer-related check-up.

• Lung Cancer: Screening for lung cancer using a low dose CT scan may be recommended if you are at high risk, are age 55 to 77 (Medicare/Medicaid) and 80 (for those with private insurance), in reasonably good health, have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history and are either still smoking or have quit in the past 15 years.

“Making a few really smart choices now about your health now could help save you from a cancer diagnosis down the road,” said King’s Daughters  oncologist/hematologist Galena Salem, M.D. “Choices like eating better, adding more physical activity, wearing sunscreen may seem simple, but their impact on your health can be significant.”

For more information about cancer prevention or screening programs, please call King’s Daughters Medical Specialties — Tri-State Hematology/Oncology at (606) 325-2221.

KDMS Tri-State
617 23rd St. Suite 19, Ashland

David Goebel, M.D.

Medical School: University of Kentucky College of Medicine
Residency: Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia.
Fellowship: University of Kentucky Medical Center
Board Certification: American Board of Internal Medicine; subspecialty certification in medical oncology & hematology

Galena Salem, M.D.

Medical School: University College of Dublin, National University of Ireland
Residency: Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Fellowship: The Ohio State
University Hospitals
Board Certification: American Board of Internal Medicine; subspecialty certification in medical oncology

Chad Tarabolous, M.D.

Medical School: University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles
Residency: Temple University Hospital, Philadelphia
Fellowship: University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore
Board Certification: American Board of Internal Medicine; subspecialty certification in medical oncology

Vinay Vermani, M.D.

Medical School: University of Delhi College of Medical Sciences, Delhi, India.
Residency: Cook County Hospital, Chicago, Ill.
Fellowship: University of Cincinnati Medical Center hospitals, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Board Certification: American Board of Internal Medicine; subspecialty certification in medical oncology

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