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Lifestyle Changes That May Prevent Cancer

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Topic Overview

Experts believe that one-third to one-half of all cancers can be prevented.

That's because there are certain things about our lifestyles—our daily habits—that can make us more likely to get cancer. Here are some steps you can take today to help prevent cancer:

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  1. Quit smoking.
  2. Eat well.
  3. Stay at a healthy weight.
  4. Stay active.
  5. Protect your skin.
  6. Drink alcohol wisely.
  7. Practice safer sex.
  8. Get regular checkups and screenings.
  9. Consider getting the HPV vaccine if you're age 26 or younger.
  10. Avoid toxins and other poisons at work and at home.

Quit smoking

When you quit smoking, you lower your chances of getting many types of cancer. Smoking makes you more likely to get cancers of the lung, bladder, kidneys, pancreas, cervix, mouth, esophagus, and throat.

Quitting is hard, but you can do it with the right amount of information and support. And there are several medicines that work well to help people quit for good. For information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.

And for more help, see:

actionset.gif Quitting Smoking: Getting Support.
actionset.gif Quitting Smoking: Coping With Cravings and Withdrawal.
dplink.gif Quitting Smoking: Should I Use Medicine?

Eat well

Eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes (for example, peas and beans), fish, poultry, and whole grains helps prevent cancer. Limit the amount of fat in your diet, especially animal fat.

Some scientists think certain supplements might help prevent cancer, but there isn't enough research yet to prove that. If you want to take supplements to prevent cancer, talk to your doctor about what is safe for you to take. Eating healthy foods is still the best way to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs.

For ideas and tips, see:

Stay at a healthy weight

If you are very overweight, your chances of getting some forms of cancer are higher. And people whose extra fat is in the waist area may be at higher risk than people whose extra fat is in the hips or thighs.

Eating a healthy diet and being more active can help you reach a healthy weight. It can be hard to change habits around eating and being active. But you can do it by taking one step at a time. To learn how, see Getting to a Healthy Weight: Lifestyle Changes.

For more help making these changes, see:

actionset.gif Healthy Eating: Starting a Plan for Change.
actionset.gif Healthy Eating: Overcoming Barriers to Change.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 07, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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