Reducing Your Risk
The cancer prevention specialists at our Cancer Center want to help you reduce your risk of developing cancer. To support that goal, we offer these tips, which are founded on scientific research and supported by the National Cancer Institute. We encourage you to talk with your doctor for more specific recommendations on how to adopt a healthier lifestyle, and for more detailed guidelines for cancer screenings that may be right for you.
Scientists say that lifestyle choices are responsible for an estimated 50 to 75 percent of cancer deaths in the United States. The following are some lifestyle choices that can reduce the risk of cancer.
- Diet and nutrition
- Eat at least 5 to 9 servings of vegetables and fruit each day. Choose dark green and deep yellow vegetables, and colorful fruits (citrus, berries, melons, mangos and papaya). (Linked to breast, bladder, colorectal, esophageal, lung, oral, ovarian, pancreas and stomach cancers)
- Choose at least 2 whole-grain servings daily (whole wheat bread, oatmeal, popcorn). (Linked to breast, colorectal and prostate cancers)
- Choose at least 1 serving daily of beans (lentils, split peas, and pinto, garbanzo, black and navy beans). (Linked to breast, colorectal and prostate cancers)
- Choose healthy dietary fats, found in nuts, olive oil, canola oil and avocado. Limit saturated fat, found in red meat and regular dairy foods. (Linked to colorectal, endometrial, lung and prostate cancers)
- Weight and exercise
- Commit to daily physical activity. Aim for at least 10,000 steps each day, including moderate intensity activity such as brisk walking. Wear a pedometer to help you monitor your steps. (Linked to breast, lung, prostate, colon and endometrial cancers)
- Maintain a healthy weight through smaller food portions and regular physical activity.
- Avoid weight gain in adulthood. (Linked to breast, colorectal, endometrial, esophageal and kidney cancers)
- If you smoke, you need to quit. To get help, join our Smoking Cessation program here at Cookeville Regional Medical Center. If you haven’t smoked for awhile, avoid temptations that may lead you to start again. Smoking causes about 30 percent of all U.S. deaths from cancer. (Linked to breast, lung, bladder, esophageal, oral, pancreas, kidney and cervical cancers)
- Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke. Establish a smoke-free home. (Linked to breast and lung cancer)
- Don’t chew tobacco. (Linked to oral cancer)
- Limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. One drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. (Linked to breast, colorectal, liver, esophageal and oral cancers)
- Sun protection
- Limit exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is strongest. (Linked to basal and squamous cell skin cancers and melanoma)
- Wear sun-protective clothing. (Linked to basal and squamous cell skin cancers and melanoma)
- Wear sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. Wear at least SPF15, all day, even on cloudy days. (Linked to basal and squamous cell skin cancers and melanoma)
- Avoid exposure to environmental chemicals known to cause cancer, such as radon and benzene. Have your home tested for radon, an odorless gas released from rocks and soil that enters homes through cracks in the foundation. Benzene is a natural part of gasoline and cigarette smoke; exposure comes from inhaling air that contains it, so avoid smoking, secondhand smoke and vapors from heavy traffic and gas stations as much as possible. (Radon is linked to lung cancer, and benzene is linked to leukemia.)
The following are basic guidelines for steps you can take to find cancer early, when there is the best chance for cure. (Guidelines apply to average risk people with no symptoms.)
- Breast cancer
- Breast self-exam, monthly starting at age 20
- Clinical breast exam, every three years starting at age 20 and annually starting at age 40
- Mammogram, annually starting at age 40
- Cervical cancer
- Pap smear and pelvic exam, annually starting at approximately age 21, and every two to three years after three consecutive normal results
- Colorectal cancer
- Fecal occult blood test, annually starting at age 50
- Sigmoidoscopy, every five years starting at age 50
- Colonoscopy, every 10 years starting at age 50
- Prostate cancer
- Digital rectal exam, annually starting at age 50
- PSA test, annually starting at age 50
- Oral cancers
- During your regular checkup, ask the dentist to check your mouth and gums.
- Family history
- Learn about your family risk of cancer. Five to 10 percent of all cancers occur in people who have a family member with the same cancer. Knowing what cancers have been in the family is the first step toward tailored screening and preventive options.