3 Things to Watch Out For This Cancer Prevention Month

When we think of cancer, we often think of the disease as a stroke of terrible luck. For the most part, this is correct; we can’t control how our cells choose to grow. But there are also measures we can all take to minimize our chances of contracting cancer. As the American Institute for Cancer Research reports, “approximately one-third of cases of the most common cancers in the U.S. could be prevented by eating healthy, being active, and staying lean. That’s an estimated 374,000 cases of cancer in the United States that would never happen.” In the spirit of raising awareness in February, Cancer Prevention Month, here are three things to watch out for.

1. The great outdoors may be your best friend

Scientists say that we spend as much as 90 percent of our lives inside. For those of us who love curling up on the couch and reading a book, the percentage may be even higher. An indoor lifestyle poses a number of threats, and cancer is one of the most dangerous. A sedentary way of life has been shown to increase the risk of certain types of cancer—colon, endometrial, and lung chief among them. Going for a walk outdoors could be the perfect way to curtail this risk.

But a sluggish lifestyle is not the only risk associated with being indoors. Indoor air pollution can also put you at risk for certain types of cancers. For instance, Radon gas, all too commonly found in old homes, causes upwards of 20,000 American lung cancer deaths annually. Smoking tobacco and inhaling secondhand smoke (which is much more threatening indoors) has also been proven to cause tens of thousands of lung cancers each year. So go outdoors. There’s a reason they call it “fresh air!”

The great outdoors may be your best friend

2. Get outside but don’t forget your sunscreen

Among the most preventable forms of cancer is skin cancer. Yet sadly, the disease is also among the most common forms of cancer, with more annual cases “than [the] combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon,” per the skin cancer foundation. Millions of people suffer from the disease each year, and melanoma (the most notorious form of skin cancer) kills one American every hour.

Luckily, skin cancer is very treatable, but perhaps more importantly, it’s very preventable. This Cancer Prevention Month, wear sunscreen (and don’t worry so much about the SPF label). Nine out of ten cases of skin cancer are caused by sun exposure. As the old saying goes, don’t become another statistic!

Get outside but don't forget your sunscreen

3. Know your risk

Various forms of cancer involve different risk factors. Family history is very important in recognizing one’s risk for breast cancer, for instance. Excess drinking increases your risk of oral  and liver cancers. Age is a major risk factor for prostate cancer. This Cancer Prevention Month, be sure to inform yourself about the risk factors associated with various forms of cancer. Knowledge is the first step toward prevention.

Last updated: 04.02.2018

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and it is not meant to be relied on as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician before starting any exercise or dietary program or taking any other action respecting your health. In case of a medical emergency, call 911.

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