Only a few everyday choices about diet, exercise and tobacco use can dramatically reduce a person’s risk of cancer, according to a Special Report on Cancer Prevention.
The Special Report examines the science and latest findings on 10 approaches that can make the real difference in preventing cancer. Here are some highlights from the list:
1. Don’t smoke: Quitting smoking reduces the risk of lung and other cancers, regardless of the number of years of smoking.
2. Eat fruits and vegetables: The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily because they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other substances that lower the risk of cancer.
3. Limit fat in the diet: Current guidelines recommend keeping fat intake between 20 and 30 percent of total daily calories, with most fats coming from sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, such as fish, nuts and vegetable oils.
4. Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer as well as cancers of the colon, endometrium, esophagus and kidney. There’s evidence that obesity increases the risk of cancers of the prostate, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, stomach, ovary and cervix.
5. Be physically active: From 45 to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a day, on most days of the week, is considered optimal to reduce the risk of breast and colorectal cancers.
6. Curb alcohol consumption: Women should limit themselves to no more than one alcoholic beverage a day. Men should have no more than two.
7. Limit exposure to radiation: Ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which comes from the sun, sunlamps or commercial tanning beds, is the primary cause of skin cancer, the most common of all cancers.
8. Protect against infection: Infections caused by viruses are recognized as risk factors for several types of cancer.
9. Consider chemoprevention: Chemoprevention is the use of natural or synthetic compounds to reduce the risk of cancer or its recurrence. Tamoxifen, prescribed to prevent breast cancer in high-risk women, is the best known chemoprevention agent.
10. Get recommended screening exams: Pap tests, mammograms, colonoscopies and other routine screenings cannot prevent cancer. But screenings can help find cancers early, when treatment is most likely to be successful.
The study has been published in the November issue of Mayo Clinic Women’s Health Source.