Catch Early and Live On
Early Detection Saves Lives
Cancer is a scary word. But did you know there are four key things you can do to greatly reduce your risk? These are all relatively simple, and, best of all, you are in control. Avoid tobacco use, get plenty of physical activity, maintain a healthy diet and make sure to get all recommended cancer screenings.
Choosing to refrain from tobacco use greatly reduces your risk of 15 different types of cancer. That means no cigarettes, cigars or smokeless tobacco. And if you are a tobacco user, the good news is that quitting now means your risk for lung, mouth, throat, kidney and pancreatic cancer begins to diminish. It may seem like a long time, but after just 10 years, your risk of lung cancer drops to about half of what it was when you were smoking.
More than a third of adults in the U.S. don’t engage in regular exercise. Researchers are seeing increased evidence that regular, moderate to vigorous activity may help prevent cancer. Brisk walking, bike riding and swimming are all great ways to get your exercise and reduce your cancer risk. Doctors recommend exercising at least five times a week.
Lack of exercise often goes hand-in-hand with poor nutrition. Besides causing you to lose out on the cancer-fighting nutrients and antioxidants in a healthy diet, poor nutrition can lead to weight gain and obesity. Obesity and lack of exercise may account for up to 30 percent of several major types of cancer.
Following the first three risk-reducing behaviors does not guarantee you will avoid cancer. That’s why the fourth behavior is so important. Following the recommended guidelines for various types of screenings serves two purposes. In almost all cases, early detection of cancer leads to earlier and more successful treatment. For example, breast cancer mortality rates have decreased dramatically in women regularly screened with mammography. Unfortunately, as many as a third of women over 40 in the U.S. have not had a mammogram within the past two years. Check with your doctor soon to see if you are due.
The second purpose of some screenings is to actually prevent cancer from developing. A colonoscopy can detect cancer and also allow for the removal of polyps, which, if left unchecked, could develop into cancer later on. And, again, the percentage of adults in the U.S. who have not had a recommended screening (50 percent) is way too high. If you are 50 or older, or if you have other risk factors, talk to your doctor about scheduling a screening as soon as possible.
Many doctors will remind you when it’s time for the various screenings, but you don’t have to wait. It’s your body you are trying to protect from cancer, so you have the right to bring it up and start the discussion. Don’t wait … catch early and live on!