February is National Cancer Prevention Month
1.7 million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year, and 1/3 of people will have cancer in their lifetime.
Thanks to research, however, there are 18 million cancer survivors living with, through, and beyond it. National Cancer Prevention Month is a reminder to take all of the necessary precautions to live a cancer-free life.
How to prevent cancer? Get screened regularly.
600,000 people die from cancer yearly. Many cancers can be detected early, and this can be done through routine screening. Almost every type of cancer has a recommended screening test. As you age, you grow more at risk of certain cancers. Once you reach certain ages, it is recommended that you receive yearly screenings.
- Lung cancer screening is recommended for adults who smoke now or have quit within the past 15 years, have a 20-pack-year or more smoking history, and are between 50 and 80 years old.
- Women between the ages of 40-75 are encouraged to get a mammogram every one or two years to detect early signs of breast cancer.
- Adults between the ages of 45 to 75 are encouraged to get colorectal screening for colon cancer.
- Women ages 21 to 65 years are encouraged to get screened for cervical cancer via a Pap smear every 2-3 years.
Lifestyle changes to lower your risk of cancer
Both regular screening and lifestyle changes can help you avoid cancer. Each type of cancer has risk factors that we encounter in our everyday life. Below are easy, small changes that you can make to your everyday life to help you avoid cancer.
Limit UV ray exposure
Skin cancer, or melanoma, is most often linked to exposure to UV light found in both tanning booths and from the sun. Limit this exposure by using SPF when spending time in the sun, limiting your time exposed to UV rays outside, and avoiding tanning beds altogether.
Manage your weight
Obesity is associated with 13 types of cancer, including endometrial (uterine) cancer, breast cancer in postmenopausal women, and colorectal cancer. To manage your weight, eat a balanced diet and get physical activity regularly. Talk to your doctor for support in managing your weight.
Smoking and secondhand smoke are huge risk factors for developing lung cancer. By not smoking and limiting your exposure to secondhand smoke, you can lower your chances of developing this type of cancer.
Some cancers form from pathogens and viruses. Be sure to get vaccinated against the pathogens that cause certain cancers and can dramatically reduce your risk of certain cancers.
Limit your alcohol use
Excessive alcohol use is linked to cancer of the breast (in women), liver, colon, rectum, mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus. Avoid binge drinking (5 or more drinks on an occasion for men or 4 or more drinks on an occasion for women) to reduce your risk of these cancers.
Tips From Former Smokers: Laura’s Story
The CDC released a video series of former smokers, and loved ones of late smokers, sharing their stories. In this video, Laura, who works for the CDC, tells the story of how her mother quit smoking. Learn more about the campaign in this video.