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Lifestyle Changes That May Prevent Cancer

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Stay active

Being active every day may prevent a number of cancers. And regular activity can help you get to and stay at a healthy weight, which can also help keep you from getting cancer.

Being physically active and getting enough sleep may work together to lower your cancer risk even more than activity alone, especially for women.

If you're not used to being active every day, think about taking small steps to change your habits. For more information, see:

actionset.gif Fitness: Adding More Activity to Your Life.
actionset.gif Fitness: Staying Active When You Have Young Children.
actionset.gif Fitness: Choosing Activities That Are Right for You.

For more ideas and tips, see:

Protect your skin

Most skin cancer is caused by too much sun. Follow these steps to help prevent skin cancer:

  • Stay out of the sun when you can, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the hours of peak ultraviolet (UV) exposure.
  • If you must go out in the sun, wear protective clothing, like a wide-brimmed hat, a long-sleeved shirt, and pants.
  • On skin that isn't covered by clothing, use a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15. Use it every day, all year, even when it is cloudy. Sunscreens that say "broad-spectrum" can protect the skin from ultraviolet A and B (UVA and UVB) rays.
  • Wear sunglasses that block UV rays.
  • Use lip balm or cream that has sun protection factor (SPF) to protect your lips from getting sunburned or developing cold sores.
  • Avoid tanning booths and sunlamps, which emit UV radiation and can cause skin damage.

For more information, see:

actionset.gif Skin Cancer: Protecting Your Skin.

Drink alcohol wisely

People who drink more than 2 alcoholic drinks a day—and especially those who drink more than 3 drinks a day—have a slightly higher risk for colon cancer.

If you're a woman, you may help prevent breast cancer by limiting yourself to 1 drink a day. Using alcohol leads to extra estrogen in the body, which raises your breast cancer risk.

Practice safer sex

Practicing safer sex helps keep you from getting HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that can cause cervical cancer in women. Safer sex includes using condoms and talking to every potential sex partner about his or her sexual history.

Get regular checkups and screenings

Visiting your doctor and dentist for regular checkups is good for your health. Your doctor can schedule regular screenings for various types of cancer, such as mammograms for breast cancer and colonoscopy for colon cancer.

Most screenings and checkups are to find cancer early, when it's easier to treat and may even be curable. But there are some things your doctor may recommend that can actually prevent certain cancers in the first place.

There are several types of screening tests for colon cancer. But only two of them can actually prevent cancer: colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy. These tests can find and remove polyps in the colon before they turn into cancer. For more information, see:

Colon Cancer: Which Screening Test Should I Have?
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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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