I lost both my parents to cancer. When they were each diagnosed, they both said, “How can that be? Cancer doesn’t run in our family.” To which I said, “That is because everyone in the family died young from heart disease. No one lived long enough to get cancer.”
What I also could have said is that one in two men are diagnosed with cancer; one in four die from it. The cancer diagnosis rate for women is one in three, with one in five succumbing to it. That is a huge risk; enough to make me take those articles on how to reduce my cancer risk seriously. Or maybe write one, which is exactly what I am doing now.
The lists are simple. You may have seen them so often that you ignore them, but maybe today is the day you decide to do something different. Here are common tips:
- Moderate exercise. Aim for an hour every day.
- Avoid all tobacco products
- Don’t drink alcohol. If you do, limit your drinking to one standard size drink per day for women; two standard size drinks per day for men.
- Avoid the sun and protect your skin from the sun.
- Eat a healthy, high-fiber diet filled with vegetables, fruit, and lean sources of protein.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid excess radiation exposure.
- See your medical provider regularly and be sure to follow through on all recommended cancer screening tests.
None of the tips on the cancer prevention list will hurt me. If I get cancer, I don’t want it to be because I ignored the list. I want it to be because of bad luck or genetic factors. I can handle life throwing me curve balls better than I can handle my own failure to take better care of myself, and thus reduce my cancer risk.