40% of all cancers diagnosed and nearly 1/2 of all deaths from cancer in the United States can be attributed to preventable causes

Things like smoking, excess body weight, physical inactivity, and excessive exposure to the sun. As a result, steps such as quitting smoking (or never starting in the first place), maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, protecting your skin from the sun, and getting vaccinated against the pathogens that cause certain cancers can dramatically reduce your risk of certain cancers.

Understanding Cancer Risk Factors

It is important to know your risk factors and talk about them with your health care team. It will help you make better lifestyle choices to improve your health. This information could also help your doctor decide if you need genetic testing and counseling. General risk factors for cancer include:

  • Older age
  • A personal or family history of cancer
  • Using tobacco
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol
  • Some types of viral infections
  • Specific chemicals
  • Exposure to radiation, including UV radiation

You can avoid some risk factors by stopping risky behaviors. Other risk factors cannot be avoided, such as getting older. 

    understanding risk factors of cancer

    6 Tips for Reducing Your Risk of Cancer

    While there is no certain way to prevent cancer, there are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood. You can TAKE ACTION to lower those risks through healthy lifestyle choices, getting recommended cancer screenings and vaccinating against certain viruses.


    Maintain a Healthy Weight and Active Lifestyle

    • Eat a plant based diet and decrease your intake of higher calorie food.
    • Limit processed meats and alcohol.
    • Include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine.Even better, strive for at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity.

    Sun protection

    • Stay out of the sun between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
    • Generously use sunscreen, cover exposed areas with hats or loose clothing, and utilize the shady areas when outdoors.
    • Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps.

    Get Immunized

    • Certain viruses can cause cancer. There are vaccines that have been proven to be effective to reduce your risk.
    • The Human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine can significantly decrease the risk of several cancers including cervical, throat, tongue, anal, and other genital cancers.
    • The Hepatitis B vaccine decreases the risk for liver cancer.

    Avoid smoking and tobacco products

    • All forms of tobacco products have many chemicals that damage DNA and cause cancer.
    • No forms are safe including cigarettes, e-cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco/snuff, hookas/waterpipes, and even secondhand smoke.
    • If you need help quitting tobacco, ask us about products and strategies available to support you.

    Get screened


    Know your family history

    • 5-10% of all cancers are inherited.
    • Understanding your family history can help guide your discussion with your physician of when you need to start cancer screening and whether to consider genetic counseling.

    Cancer Doesn’t Wait

    This message is from the CDC. Cancer doesn’t wait and neither should you. Dr. Lisa Richardson, Dr. Robert W. Carlson, and Dr. Laura Makaroff talk about the importance of routine cancer screenings