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Doing This Can "Dramatically" Slash Your Risk of Cancers

Five ways to help lower the risk of cancer. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Cancer is a terrifying diagnosis that nobody wants to hear and while it's still the second leading cause of death in the United States, there is good news. It's not the death sentence it once was in many cases and there's several ways to help lower the risk. Taking charge of your health and practicing simple lifestyle changes does make a difference. In addition, cancer has become successfully treatable in recent years. 

Judith A. Smith, PharmD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston tells us, "There are quite a few reasons cancer is more treatable today with overall better outcomes than it has been in the past.  First, great strides have been made in better cancer screening and earlier treatment interventions which improved treatment outcomes.  The implementation of genetic screening has made it possible to identify patients at greater risk of developing cancer."

Dr. Smith adds, "Cancer genetics has also guided clinicians in selected targeted therapies that are more effective in treatment of cancer.  Finally, the discovery and introduction of immunotherapy has had an enormous impact on the improvement in curing cancer. " In addition there are certain things you can do to help lower the risk." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


How to Lower the Risk of HPV cancers

woman sleeping peacefully

Dr. Smith says, "In the past two decades there have been great advancements in the prevention of HPV related cancers.   First was employing routine HPV testing in the screening for cervical cancer and more recently in patients at risk of developing anal cancer.  While we are still learning how to optimize the long-term efficacy, the HPV vaccine has been beneficial in reducing the risk of developing chronic high risk HPV infections. 

The majority of individuals infected with HPV will clear the infection within the first six to 18 months after exposure.  There is hope for the 30% of patients that do end up with chronic high risk HPV infections.  Recent data has shown benefits in the use of nutritional supplement, AHCC®, to support the immune system to clear chronic high risk HPV infections. Other interventions that help support immune function are also helpful in reducing risk of HPV related cancer such as healthy diet, adequate sleep and exercise."    


How to Lower the Risk for Liver Cancer

liver disease

Did you know the liver performs over 500 essential jobs for our body like storing nutrients, breaks down and eliminates waste, regulates blood clotting, removes bacteria from the bloodstream, which helps your body resist infections and much more? Keeping a healthy liver is important for your overall health and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states, "Each year in the United States, about 25,000 men and 11,000 women get liver cancer, and about 19,000 men and 9,000 women die from the disease. The percentage of Americans who get liver cancer rose for several decades, but is now declining. Liver cancer is more common in other parts of the world than in the United States."

Dr. Smith shares, "Both alcohol or substance abuse are associated with a significant increase for the development of liver cancer due to the continual insult to liver that is the primary organ in the body responsible to detoxify/clear alcohol and drugs to protect other vital organs such as the brain and heart.   Both chronic infections with hepatitis B and hepatitis C may increase the risk of development of liver cancer.   Vaccination is one intervention to prevent the risk of developing hepatitis as well as reducing risk of exposure with barrier methods of contraception (condoms), avoiding shared needles, and wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) whenever handling blood products/bodily fluids."   


Maintaining a Healthy Body Weight Can Help Prevent Several Cancers

weight gain

Having excess body fat has been linked to several types of cancer including breast cancer, uterine cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, gallbladder, thyroid cancer, colorectal cancer, head and neck cancer and esophageal cancer. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, "Researchers are still studying the connection between body weight and cancer risk. They have found several reasons why weight can affect your cancer risk. These include:

-Extra weight raises your levels of the hormones insulin and insulin growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Too much of this hormone can help some cancers develop.

-Fat tissue also produces more of the hormone estrogen. Estrogen can help some cancers, like breast cancer, develop.

-Chronic, low-level inflammation is more common in people who are obese (particularly if they have more belly fat) and that is linked with an increased cancer risk.

-Fat cells affect the way your body regulates cancer cell growth."

ASCO adds, "A healthy BMI is usually between 18.5 and 24.9. A BMI between 25 and 29.5 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. Another measurement you can take is your waist measurement. Research shows that people with a larger waist measurement have a higher risk of some diseases, including heart disease and cancer. A healthy waist measurement is under 40 inches (101.6 cm) for men and under 35 inches (88.9 cm) for women."

Dr. Smith explains, "Obesity has been associated with most of the solid tumors particularly breast, ovarian, colon and endometrial cancer.  In women, obesity is associated with higher levels of endogenous hormone, such estrogen that will increase risk of development of cancer.  Obesity is also associated with the development of silent inflammation pathways that can lead to the development of cancer.   Maintaining a healthy weight will reduce the risk of developing cancer, especially in those patients that also have a hereditary risk of cancer too."


How to Prevent Skin Cancer

woman smears face sunscreen at the beach for protection

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, but it's also the most avoidable type of cancer. "One in five Americans will develop skin cancer, according to American Academy of Dermatology Association. Other facts to know about skin cancer include: "More than 2 people die of skin cancer in the U.S. every hour.

Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma.

When detected early, the 5-year survival rate for melanoma is 99 percent," the Skin Cancer Foundation shares. 

Dr. Smith says, "Prevention of skin cancer really can go back to basics that we all know.  First and foremost, minimize sun exposure by wearing hats and sun protective clothing.   Applying sunscreen at least 30 minutes prior to going outside and reapplication frequents when participating in sports or water related activities.  One good idea is to use body lotions fortified with SPF protection daily so that skin builds up protection against sun exposure.   Finally, an annual visit to a dermatologist for skin cancer screening regardless of skin type will allow for prevention and early detection of skin cancer."


According to Mayo Clinic, Avoiding Risky Behaviors Lowers the Chance of Cancer

couple in live holding hads while lying in bed together

Mayo Clinic states, "Another effective cancer prevention tactic is to avoid risky behaviors that can lead to infections that, in turn, might increase the risk of cancer. For example:

Practice safe sex. Limit your number of sexual partners and use a condom when you have sex. The more sexual partners you have in your lifetime, the more likely you are to contract a sexually transmitted infection — such as HIV or HPV. People who have HIV or AIDS have a higher risk of cancer of the anus, liver and lung. HPV is most often associated with cervical cancer, but it might also increase the risk of cancer of the anus, penis, throat, vulva and vagina.

Don't share needles. Sharing needles with people who use intravenous drugs can lead to HIV, as well as hepatitis B and hepatitis C — which can increase the risk of liver cancer. If you're concerned about drug misuse or addiction, seek professional help."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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