Ways to Lower Your Risk of Developing Cancer

Tips & advice from Adventist Health Portland

Cancer is a very real reality in our world. Though some cancer risk is based on genetics, there are several ways you can reduce your risk of certain cancers.

Stop smoking

No matter how old you are or how long you’ve been smoking, stopping today can improve your health and decrease your risk of cancer as well as other health problems.

Most people who smoke want to quit. It’s not easy! But we at Adventist Health are here to help you through your doctor’s support, one-on-one counseling with our IHC Associates addiction specialists, and group education and support like our Becoming Tobacco Free class.

Sun care

Being sun smart is an easy way to decrease your overall cancer risk.

Spending long hours under the sun may leave you overexposed to ultraviolet (UV) rays, which are the leading cause of skin cancer. While we don’t recommend staying cooped up inside all day, we do suggest being cautious between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when UV rays are most intense.

You can also reduce the risk of getting skin cancer by applying sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher and wearing clothes that cover your arms and legs. Put on a hat when you’re outside, and remember to bring a pair of shades. And most definitely avoid indoor tanning booths.

Alcohol reduction

Alcohol, much like cigarettes, is a leading cause of death in the United States and can be extremely addictive. Most people who drink are not alcoholics but still might be increasing their chances of getting cancer.

You can reduce your level of alcohol consumption with the help of your doctor’s counseling, support from family and friends, or anonymous group meetings with individuals who understand what you’re dealing with. Drinking less can help prevent long-term development of breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon cancer.

Lean body mass

Body mass index (BMI) is a measurement of your height-to-weight ratio. BMI helps determine if you’re maintaining a healthy weight for your body size. It’s often used as an indicator of body fat.

In recent decades, obesity rates in the United States have skyrocketed. As we age, we also tend to get less active, which can mean we start packing on the pounds. Obesity can cause endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder and liver cancer.

Some ways to maintain a healthy BMI are:

  • Eating fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains
  • Being active for at least 30 minutes a day
  • Cutting down on sugary and fatty foods
  • Remembering to eat breakfast

Stress management

Anyone with a job, kids to feed, bills to pay or responsibilities to manage knows life can be stressful. While it’s normal to feel stressed every now and then, studies show high levels of stress can actually cause breast cancer and other medical issues.

Many people resort to using tobacco, alcohol, drugs and food as ways to mitigate stress. As mentioned earlier, these activities can all become hazardous cancer-causing habits.

Eating right, staying active, sleeping more, and remembering to just sit back and relax every once in a while are easy ways to dramatically cut down on everyday stress and stay healthy.

For classes and support as you look for ways to live a healthier life and reduce your risk of cancer and other diseases, check out our classes and events page, and subscribe to our blog and podcasts.