Cancer Prevention Tips

North Dakota Health & Human Services is encouraging North Dakotans to pay attention to prevention. Taking proactive action to prevent cancer can be done by making changes to everyday life. Here are seven things you can do to lower your risk of developing cancer:

     1. Avoid tobacco use

Smoking tobacco has been linked to multiple cancer types – this includes cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Smoking tobacco is not the only dangerous form – chewing tobacco has also been linked to cancer, in that case, cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas.

If you choose to avoid tobacco – or even quit it – you are taking a great step toward cancer prevention. If you need help with your quitting journey, the ND Quits program has resources available to you.

     2. Maintain a healthy diet

Eating well can greatly impact your health in a variety of ways. When it comes to cancer prevention, there are some ways in which you can improve your overall health, as well as prevent cancer. Follow these tips to improve your health and nutrition:

    • Eat your fruits and vegetables

Try to base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other plant-sourced foods such as whole grains and beans.

    • Limit alcohol intake

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver.

    • Limit processed meats

Processed meats can slightly increase the risk of certain types of cancers.

     3. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active

If you maintain a healthy weight, you have a lower risk of cancers such as cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney. Being physically active can be beneficial to you in multiple ways as well. Besides helping maintain weight control, physical activity can also lower your risk of breast and colon cancer.

    4. Protect yourself from the sun

It is very important to protect yourself from the sun, due to its link to skin cancer. Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers. You can protect yourself in a multitude of ways:

    • Avoid midday sun
    • Stay in the shade
    • Cover exposed areas
    • Frequently apply sunscreen
    • Avoid tanning bed and sunlamps

     5. Stay up to date on vaccinations

Certain viral infections can increase the risk of developing cancer. Talk to your doctor or trusted health care provider about vaccinations that can lower your risk of cancer.

Hepatitis B can increase the risk of liver cancer. This vaccine is especially recommended for adults at high risk who are sexually active but not in a monogamous relationship, people who have sexually transmitted infections (STIs), those who use intravenous drugs, men who have sex with men and health care or public safety workers who may be exposed to infected blood or bodily fluids.

HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical cancer. HPV can also lead to other genital cancers and squamous cell cancers of the head and neck. The HPV vaccine is recommended for boys and girls ages 11 and 12.

     6. Avoid risky behaviors

There are different risky behaviors that one may engage in that can also lead to certain infections that can increase the risk of cancer:

    • Unprotected sex

It is important to practice safe sex. Limiting your sexual partners is one way in which you can protect yourself from contracting an infection that can later lead to cancer. Using a condom is another way in which you can prevent contracting STIs. The more sexual partners you have, and the less safe you are, the more likely you are to contract an STI. Contracting infections such as HIV or AIDS can lead to a higher risk of cancer of the anus, liver and lung. Learn more about STIs.

    • Needle sharing

If you share needles with people who use intravenous drugs, your risk of HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C increases, which can increase the risk of liver cancer.

     7. Get routine medical care

It is very important to schedule routine medical exams for a variety of reasons. When it comes to cancer prevention, you should schedule regular self-exams and screening for various types of cancers, such as cancer of the skin, colon, cervix and breast. When you schedule these screenings, your chances of catching cancer early increase. This is vital, as the earlier you detect cancer, the better chance you have at successful treatment. Talk to your doctor today about scheduling regular cancer screenings.