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10 tips to reduce cancer risks

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No one can guarantee you won't get cancer. But simple changes in the way you live your life can lower your risk for the disease and boost your odds of better health.
 
Here are 10 lifestyle changes that can reduce your cancer risk:

  1. Go smoke-free. The most important thing you can do to prevent cancer is to quit tobacco use. Tobacco is linked to many types of cancer, including lung, throat, pancreatic, cervical and kidney cancers. Avoid second-hand smoke as an added precaution.

    Talk with your doctor about free support groups, like Beat Tobacco at Goshen Health, to help you quit the smoking habit.

  2. Eat healthy foods. Many foods have cancer-fighting goodness packed into them. Balance your plate with plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and beans every day.

  3. Go light on processed meats. Foods like bacon, sausage, salami, pepperoni, and bologna are filled with preservatives and other ingredients that can cause health issues. Limit – or eliminate – these foods from your plate.

  4. Cut back on fat and sugar. High levels of fat and sugar in processed foods can lead to weight gain and increase the risk of several types of cancer. Extra pounds also raise your risk of other health issues, including heart disease and diabetes.

  5. Rethink your drink. Make water your drink of choice and avoid beverages high in sugar and empty calories. That includes soda, energy drinks, sweetened waters and coffee drinks with added sugars and syrups.

  6. Limit alcohol. Even small amounts of beer, wine or liquor can increase your risk of some cancers. Good guidelines to follow – no more than two alcoholic drinks a day for men and one for women.

  7. Add activity to your routine. Your body is in better shape to protect you from diseases like cancer when you exercise. Physical activity helps with weight control, immune function, inflammation reduction and hormone balance. Aim for 30 to 40 minutes of exercise most days of the week. And remember when it comes to cancer prevention, more activity is always better.

  8. Protect your skin. Skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S. It's also one of the most preventable. Treat your skin to a healthy layer of sunblock, even on cloudy days. Wear protective clothing when you’re outside. Stay in the shade or indoors, particularly between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest.

  9. Make checkups a priority. Routine visits with your healthcare provider are the best way to stay on top of your health and catch symptoms early before they become a problem. It’s also important to keep up with routine screenings, such as colonoscopies, mammograms, and lung scans.

  10. Challenge yourself. Simple changes in your routine, like a daily walk or one less can of soda a day, can make a big difference in your health and lower your risk of cancer. To track your progress, download a 30-day cancer prevention checklist from the American Institute for Cancer Research. Then get going toward a healthy you!

 Maria Brown, RD, is a registered dietitian with Goshen Center for Cancer Care. She provides nutritional care and education for patients with all types of cancer as part of the Integrative Care Team. Her nutrition plans help promote the best possible health outcomes during active treatment and recovery.

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