5 Important Ways to Observe World Cancer Day and reduce your cancer risk

February 1, 2016 | by City of Hope

As World Cancer Day puts a global spotlight on this challenging disease on Feb. 4, the event’s theme – “We can. I can.” – reminds us the fight begins on a personal level. Each person can make a lifestyle change to have a better shot against cancer such as becoming more active, losing weight or quitting smoking.
 
“Adopt a healthy lifestyle – it’s the best thing you can do,” said Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., R.N., director of the Division of Cancer Etiology in the Department of Population Sciences at City of Hope.
 
“It’s important to maintain a healthy weight, limit alcohol intake and stay away from tobacco products,” Bernstein said. “Statistically, these are all proven to reduce risk, though they work in different cancers for different reasons.”
 
More than 8 million people die from cancer worldwide each year – and cancer remains the second leading cause of death in the U.S. – but still, there is reason for optimism. As U.S. government leaders join scientists and researchers in the quest for a cure, cancer death rates have declined in recent years and will likely continue to do so, thanks to research breakthroughs and growing public awareness about the importance of regular screenings and healthy living. 
 
To that end, cancer experts are using World Cancer Day to remind individuals to do what they can to reduce their cancer risk and take action, beginning with these recommendations: 
 
1. Make time for exercise – 30 minutes is all you need. Bernstein suggests starting simply, with a 45-minute walk, five days per week. According to her research, even as little as 30 minutes of walking per week can make a statistical difference.
 
2. Maintain a healthy weight. Cancer of the breast, bowel, pancreas, esophagus, gall bladder, kidney and female reproductive organs have been all linked to obesity. To make things simple, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers an online body mass index, or BMI, calculator to quickly assess your healthy weight. 
 
3. No smoking. Ever. The use of tobacco products is the single biggest risk factor for lung cancer, and has been linked to other cancers as well. This also applies to alternative tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, which health officials warn may cause health problems, including cancer, due to the nicotine and chemicals they contain. 
 
4. Get regular screenings. While screening cannot reduce the risk of cancer, early detection increases the chances of successful treatment. Women should follow current screening guidelines for early detection of the breast and uterus. Men should do the same for prostate cancer. 
 
People with proven genetic cancer risk, such as one or more family members diagnosed with a certain cancer type, may benefit from genetic screening.
 
And for current and former smokers between 55 and 74, lung cancer screening can save lives.
 
“There’s no doubt about it,” said Dan Raz, M.D., co-director of the Lung Cancer and Thoracic Oncology Program at City of Hope. “Lung cancer screening really has the potential to revolutionize and change the face of lung cancer from a disease that we can cure sometimes, to a disease we can cure most of the time.”
 
5. Consider immunization. Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Consider talking with your doctor about getting immunized against hepatitis B, and the human papillomavirus, or HPV.  
 
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If you are looking for a second opinion or consultation about your treatment, request an appointment online or contact us at 800-826-HOPE. Please visit Making Your First Appointment for more information.

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