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Topic Overview

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?

Consider vaccinations

If you are age 26 or younger, you can get the HPV shot to protect against the virus that can cause cervical cancer. Three shots are given over 6 months. The series of shots is recommended for girls age 11 or 12 and can be given to females ages 9 to 26.

Males age 9 through 26 may also get the HPV shot (Gardasil) which may prevent anal cancer.

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