Cancer can be an intimidating topic, but there are steps you can take to significantly reduce your risk. The American Cancer Society estimates that at least 40% of newly-diagnosed cancers in the past year were preventable. Therefore, we want to bring your attention to a few important facts about cancer prevention
What causes cancer?
Your body is made of cells, which grow, divide, and die in a well-regulated cycle, usually over the course of a week or two. Each cell contains signals that prevent it from growing too large or dividing too frequently. When these signals are damaged, the cells can grow out of control, creating a cancerous tumor. There are many ways these signals can be damaged, including genetics and random chance, but there are some factors that you can avoid to help significantly reduce your risk of cancer. Here are a few ways to reduce your risk of preventable cancers:
The American Cancer Society estimates that 19% of new cancer diagnoses in 2019 were directly caused by smoking. Smoking can lead to cancers of the lungs, throat, stomach, and liver, which can be extremely deadly. Quitting smoking is a difficult process, but it is an essential part of your health. Your IMA Practitioner can provide support that can help you create a plan to quit smoking.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, and more often than not, it is caused by damage from exposure to the sun. Regularly using a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher can significantly reduce your risk of skin cancer.
Sun damage is not just a risk on sunny days— the dangerous UV rays that can cause skin cancer can penetrate through the cloud cover on even the most overcast days. It is important that you wear sunscreen if you plan on spending more than a few minutes outside, regardless of the weather.
Diet and Exercise
The American Cancer Society estimates that 18% of new cancer diagnoses are the results of excess body weight, excess alcohol consumption, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise. Reducing your intake of refined sugar and processed meat will not only improve your overall health, but will significantly reduce your risk of cancer.
Doctors recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Something as simple as going for a walk every day can make a big difference.
Regular Testing and Screening
In addition to reducing your exposure to these risk factors, one of the best ways to prevent cancer is to attend your regular screenings on a doctor-recommended basis. If a pre-cancerous growth is found in the process, it can be treated before it develops into a more serious risk. Early detection is an essential part of cancer prevention. Doctors recommend getting a colonoscopy every 5-10 years, and yearly mammograms and pap smears for women. Please contact your IMA Primary Care Office to schedule any one of these procedures.