Lifestyle and Cancer Prevention

People can develop habits to prevent cancer, and then practice these habits as they go about their daily lives. Leading a healthy lifestyle and avoiding bad habits can minimize cancer risk. A healthy lifestyle can also prevent other diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Avoiding tobacco will reduce the risk of cancer. Avoiding cigarettes reduces the risk of lung, bladder, and throat cancer, and avoiding cigars, snuff, and chewing tobacco will prevent lip and throat cancer. It is important to emphasize tobacco prevention to the youth, because tobacco habits are usually acquired during adolescence.

Moderate alcohol consumption, such as a glass of wine in the evening, can reduce the risk of heart disease, but excessive alcohol causes cancer such as esophageal and throat cancer, as well as pancreatitis, cirrhosis, and heart disease. Cancer risk in heavy drinkers is amplified by cigarette smoking. Alcohol in moderation can be healthy, but excessive consumption is a serious health hazard.

Avoiding promiscuous behavior and using condoms can decrease a woman’s risk for cervical cancer, because cervical cancer is caused by a virus which is transmitted by sexual contact. Using good sense will also minimize the risk of other sexually transmitted diseases, such as gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV.

A healthy diet may decrease the risk for colon cancer and breast cancer, and regular exercise may also help. Weight loss may be beneficial because some cancers are more common in obese people. Losing weight can also promote general wellness, and reduce the risk for diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.

Avoiding sun overexposure and using sunscreen will help prevent skin cancer, particularly in fair-skinned individuals.

Certain vitamins and drugs may decrease cancer risk. Folic acid, aspirin, and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may reduce the risk for colon cancer. Tamoxifen, a drug that blocks estrogen, can reduce breast cancer risk in women who are at high-risk for the disease. Stopping estrogen replacement can also result in decreased risk for breast cancer. Proscar is a drug that can prevent prostate cancer, but it may promote a more aggressive form. Many other drugs and vitamins are currently being studied for prevention of cancer.

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