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How Do I Prevent Cancer?

Breastfeeding may reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Smokers and those who live with smokers are at a higher risk of cancer.
A diet that is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in saturated fats is one way to help prevent cancer.
Skin cancer is a potentially deadly but often overlooked disease.
Article Details
  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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There is no surefire way to prevent cancer, but there are many methods for reducing risk of certain cancers, or for catching cancer early enough that it can be treated with greater success. Medical research has done much to explore cancer causing behaviors and show how people may minimize risk. There is yet more to be done in this area, but the following are some suggestions for risk reduction.

Skin cancer is an often overlooked form of cancer that can be fatal. Research suggests that people may prevent cancer, or reduce the risk of it by minimizing sun exposure, which is a primary cause. People should wear protective clothing and hats when they are out in the sun, should wear strong sunscreen and should avoid going out during the sunniest parts of the day.

These precautions should be followed even on cloudy or inclement days; the sun is still there even when people can’t see it. Behaviors like tanning are strongly discouraged. Should a person develop any form of skin growth like a mole with uneven edges, a fast growing mole or freckle, or a lesion on the skin that keeps bleeding and never seems to heal, they should get this checked by a doctor right away.

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Breast cancer is certainly a serious and life-threatening condition and there are many suggestions on how to prevent cancer in this form. Some evidence suggests that having children prior to the age of 25 and breastfeeding those children reduces risk, but this isn’t an option for everyone. Breast cancer risk might also be lowered by eating cruciferous vegetables (three servings a week) like broccoli. Estrogen based medications, particularly for postmenopausal women, may increase risk. Of greatest importance is doing monthly self-exams of the breasts, which can help detect lumps early, and women should also have yearly mammograms once they reach the age of 40 or sooner if they have a family history of breast cancer.

There are ways to prevent cancer like lung cancer or at least to sharply reduce odds of getting it. Not smoking and not being exposed to second hand smoke are the best ways, since smokers and those who live with smokers have a much greater risk for this condition. There’s some evidence that five to seven servings of cabbage weekly can significantly reduce risk even among smokers, but this cannot be depended upon to prevent cancer.

There are others things that may reduce or prevent cancer of various types. These can include maintaining a healthy weight and eating a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Alcohol use in moderation may be fine but excessive use can lead to liver and stomach cancer. Cancer screenings of certain sorts remain important too, and things like colonoscopies (as recommended by a doctor) and yearly gynecological exams can be invaluable.

In the end, though, the sum of medical science has not yet shown humans how to prevent cancer fully. Perhaps someday, people will all have access to easy cancer prevention guides. In the interim, folks can take advantage of recommendations as they now stand, and look for new ones to come along as medical researchers learn more.

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