Some potential cancer risks can’t be changed. Genetics, for instance, or family history. But some can. Like quitting smoking, eating healthier, and being more active. And getting regular screenings, especially as you age.
Losing weight lowers your body’s levels of estrogen. High levels of estrogen after menopause may cause cells in the breast to become cancerous.
Eating healthy and keeping your weight under control also helps lower your risk of uterine cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
Eating five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day can lower your risk of breast cancer by increasing your body’s levels of the antioxidant vitamin A. Eating more fruits and vegetables also lowers your risk of colon cancer, lung cancer, diabetes and stroke.
Women who consume less than one drink a day have a lower risk of breast cancer, since alcohol may raise your body’s estrogen levels. Limiting alcohol intake also lowers your risk of colon cancer, high blood pressure, and stroke.
According to the American Cancer Society, taking birth control pills increases your risk of breast cancer. Talk to your doctor before taking oral contraceptives, especially if your risk is higher due to other lifestyle or genetic factors, or if you have a family history of cervical or breast cancer.
Annual screening tests can prevent colorectal cancer by detecting polyps—small, non-cancerous tumors, before they become cancerous.
If your family history includes colorectal cancer, ask your doctor about screenings or other tests that could reduce your risk.
Read more about early detection guidelines here.
To lower your risk of colorectal cancer, reduce the amount of red meat and fatty foods you eat, and increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods. Also, consider taking a daily multivitamin containing folic acid or folate, and getting more calcium.
Exercise improves all areas of your life, and can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
Limiting your intake of alcohol can have many health benefits, especially by lowering your risk of certain types of cancers. People who consume less than one drink a day have a lower risk of colon cancer, possibly because alcohol helps the body maintain healthy levels of folic acid.
Most cases of uterine cancer can’t be prevented, and many of the risk factors aren’t lifestyle-controllable. However, as with other forms of cancer, there are several things you can do to reduce your overall risk.
Being overweight increases your body’s levels of estrogen, which in turn increases your risk of developing uterine cancer.
To lower your risk, lower your weight. Eating healthy and keeping your weight under control helps reduce your risk of uterine cancer, colon cancer, kidney cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
A diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fats—especially animal fats—and red meat can reduce your risk of uterine cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
A Pap test is perhaps the most important preventative step to reduce your risk for cervical cancer. Experts recommend getting this test every three years, beginning no later than age 21 and even more frequently if you have a family history of the disease. A Pap test can detect abnormal cell changes in the cervix before they become cancerous.
Because cigarette smoke alters the genetics of cells throughout the body, women who smoke are at greater risk for cervical cancer, among other forms of the disease. Quitting smoking now reduces your risk and offers many other health benefits.
Protecting yourself by using latex condoms or diaphragm, along with limiting your number of sexual partners, reduces your exposure to the Human Pappillomavirus (HPV). Some types of HPV can cause cell changes in the cervix that lead to cancer.
Scientists believe younger women are more susceptible to HPV. Therefore, abstaining from sex at an early age also lowers your risk of cervical cancer by limiting your exposure to HPV.
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