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Cancer Prevention and Wellness

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Cancer Prevention and Wellness | Holy Cross Hospital | Silver Spring, MD

Cancer Prevention
How can we prevent cancer? Doctors cannot always say for sure. But doctors have identified a number of risk factors that can increase a person's chance of developing cancer as well as protective factors that decrease a person's chance of developing cancer.

Cancer Risk Factors
A risk factor can be any activity, lifestyle behavior, food, genetic predisposition, or environmental exposure that increases a person's chance of developing a disease. Likewise any activity, lifestyle behavior, food, genetic predisposition, or environmental exposure that decreases a person's chance of developing a disease is called a protective factor. Avoiding these risk factors - and incorporating the protective factors into one's life-are the best ways to prevent cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, your risk for cancer depends on a number of factors, including your family medical history, your environment, and lifestyle behaviors.

Smoking is a common risk factor for many types of cancer. Excessive exposure to sunlight is a risk factor for skin cancer. Exposure to carcinogens such as asbestos is linked to increased incidence of cancer. Having a family history of cancer and/or a genetic predisposition to cancer increases one's risk.

While a person can give up smoking, it is not possible to change his or her family history and/or genetic predisposition. However, having one or more risk factors for cancer does not necessarily guarantee one will develop cancer.

Protective Factors
Studies show that having a well-balanced low-fat diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, incorporating regular physical activity into one's daily life, and maintaining a healthy weight can all act as protective factors in decreasing one's risk of many types of cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals adopt the following practices in their daily lives:

Choose most of the foods you eat from plant sources

  • Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables each day
  • Eat other foods from plant sources, such as breads, cereals, grain products, rice, pasta, or beans several times each day

 Limit your intake of high-fat foods, particularly from animal sources

  • Choose foods low in fat
  • Limit consumption of meats, especially high-fat meats.
  • Choose beans, seafood, and poultry as an alternative to beef, pork, and lamb
  • Select baked and broiled meats, seafood, and poultry, rather than fried

Be physically active: Achieve and maintain a healthy weight

  • Be at least moderately active for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week.
  • Stay within your healthy weight range.

 

Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages, if you drink at all

  • Your risk of cancer increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.
    Most importantly, talk with your doctor about your individual risk factors for cancer, and about choosing methods of preventing cancer that might be effective for you.

Most importantly, talk with your doctor about your individual risk factors for cancer, and about choosing methods of preventing cancer that might be effective for you.

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