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Preventing Cancer

Many types of cancer are linked to lifestyle. Healthy lifestyle choices can help lower your risk for cancer and many other diseases. They can also improve your overall health.

Man crushing cigarettes.

Stop smoking

  • Talk with your healthcare provider. They can help you quit. Ask about nicotine patches. Ask about prescription medicines.

  • Get help from ex-smokers.

  • Create a plan for quitting.

  • Pick a quit date and stick to it.

  • Get help and more information from

Stay at a healthy weight

  • Ask your healthcare provider for help if you need to lose weight. Losing even a little weight is good for you.

  • Once you're at a healthy weight, take steps to maintain it.

Keep active

  • Get regular physical activity.

  • Take walks, garden, or do other activities you enjoy each day.

  • Do errands on foot or bike, not by car.

  • Join a walking or biking club.

  • Limit the time you spend sitting to do things. This includes watching TV, playing video games, or using a computer.

Eat a healthy diet

  • Eat fewer red meats and processed meats.

  • Eat at least 2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily, especially leafy greens.

  • Eat more whole grains instead of refined grain foods.

  • Limit alcohol to 2 drinks a day if you're a man and 1 drink a day if you're a woman.

  • Limit high-calorie foods and drinks.

  • Read food labels to be more aware of calories and portion sizes.

Protect yourself from hazards

  • When outside during the day, use sunscreen that has a broad-spectrum SPF of 30 or higher.

  • When out in sunlight, wear a hat and sunglasses.

  • Seek shade in the middle of the day when the sun is strongest.

  • Be aware of all hazardous products at work or in your home.

  • When working with hazardous products, wear protective clothing

Talk with your healthcare provider about cancer screenings

Screening can help prevent some types of cancer, such as cervical and colorectal cancer. Regular screening can find and remove abnormal areas before they turn into cancer. For other types of cancer, screening may help find cancer early, when it's small. This is when treatment is most likely to work better. Here are ways you can screen for some types of cancer:

  • Breast cancer. Breast self-awareness and mammograms.

  • Skin cancer. Self-exam, professional exam, biopsy of any changes that might be cancer.

  • Cervical cancer. Pap test and HPV tests.

  • Colorectal cancer. Screening for blood or DNA in stool, and colonoscopy or other tests to look inside the colon.

  • Prostate cancer. PSA blood test with or without a digital rectal exam.

  • Testicular cancer. Self-exam and professional exams.

  • Lung cancer. Annual low-dose CT scan (for current or past smokers) based on guidelines by the American Cancer Society.

Talk with your healthcare provider about your family history and your cancer risk. Together you can decide on the cancer screening plan that's best for you.

Online Medical Reviewer: L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Rita Sather RN
Online Medical Reviewer: Todd Gersten MD
Date Last Reviewed: 11/1/2021
© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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