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8 Ways to Lower Your Cancer Risk

These lifestyle choices may make cancer less likely.

5. Drop the Drink.

When it comes to health, alcohol wields a double-edged sword. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that light alcohol consumption, especially red wine,may be beneficial for heart health.

But on the other hand, it appears that any alcohol consumption can raise your risk of cancer.

“For cancer, there is no safe level of alcohol,” Bender says. “It’s a dose response: The more you drink, the greater the risk, especially for certain cancers like those of the mouth, throat, and esophagus.” And if you smoke, too, the combined effects of drinking and smoking shoot your risk for these up even higher.

What to do? Both the AICR expert report and the American Cancer Society recommend that women limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day, and men no more than two.

6. Shake Off Stress.

“People always want to know if stress can raise your cancer risk,” Ruffin says. “There’s no convincing evidence that, by itself, stress is an independent risk factor for cancer. But what it cando is lead people to engage in unhealthy behavior in an effort to cope with stress. If you’re overeating, drinking, or smoking to self-medicate your stress away, those behaviors all raise your cancer risk.”

So instead, Ruffin recommends finding healthy ways of coping with stress, like exercise (which helps to reducecancer risk), meditation, and journaling.

7. Pull Down the Screens.

Many screening tests for various cancers, like mammograms and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing, don’t actually prevent cancer -- they just catch it at a very early stage, when it may be more treatable.

But other tests, like Pap tests and colonoscopies, can help detect precancerous changes that, if left untreated, can turn into cervical cancer or colon cancer.

There are many confusing messages about what screening tests different people should use, and when. Instead of trying to figure it out on your own, Ruffin says, talk to your doctor about your individual situation.

Take screening mammograms, for instance. The question isn’t “Should women under 50 get mammograms?” but “Should I,given my own personal situation and family health history, start mammograms before 50?”

“And don’t think one conversation is enough,” Ruffin says. “Things about your health situation change, and so does our knowledge about cancer and screening. Ask your doctor about it this year, and next year, and the year after that.”

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