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Cancer Health Center

8 Ways to Lower Your Cancer Risk

These lifestyle choices may make cancer less likely.
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1. Be Smoke Free. continued...

“If you’re in a closed bar or nightclub and 100 people in there are smoking, you might as well be,” says Mack Ruffin IV, MD, MPH, a professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Michigan and an expert in preventive oncology. “If you leave a bar and your clothes are smelling of tobacco, you’ve inhaled a lot of cigarette smoke.”

So think twice before spending regular nights out in smoke-filled clubs, or letting your child ride home regularly with someone who smokes in the car.

2. Don't Weight.

Many people probably know that carrying too much weight around isn’t good for your heart, but did you know that it’s a major risk factor for cancer as well? Obesity is the culprit behind some 14% of cancer deaths, and more than 3% of new cancer cases, every year.

“Our No. 1 recommendation for cancer risk reduction is to stay as lean as possible within a healthy weight range. This may be one of the most important ways to prevent cancer,” says Alice Bender, MS, RD, manager of nutrition communications at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).

In November 2007, the AICR put out an expert report summarizing how food, nutrition, and physical activity affect cancer and cancer prevention. Being overweight, according to the AICR report, is linked to a wide variety of cancers, including esophageal, pancreatic, gall bladder, breast, endometrial, and kidney cancers.

3. Bust a Move.

All forms of physical activity help to prevent many forms of cancer, according to the AICR Expert Report. You may not get six-pack abs with 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, but a number of studies have found evidence that just this much physical activity can cut your risk of many common cancers by 30% to 50%.

“It doesn’t matter that much what kind of exercise you do, or when -- just do it,” Ruffin says. “Let’s correlate it to smoking. If you can cut your weight down to a healthy range, increase your physical activity, and increase your fruit and vegetable intake. That’s the equivalent to stopping smoking if you were a smoker. People don’t understand how important these factors are, because they creep up over your life span.”

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