WAYS YOU CAN LOWER YOUR CANCER RISK

The "C" word is scary. Very, very scary. And while there is no way to absolutely prevent cancer, there are several things you can do now to reduce your risk of developing it later--and improve your chances of beating the disease if you do get it. Six ways to help lower your risk of cancer, according to the American Cancer Society:

1. Get regular cancer screening tests.
Regular screening tests can catch some cancers early when they're small, have not spread and are easier to treat. With cervical and colon cancers, these tests can even prevent cancer from developing in the first place. Talk with your doctor about the tests for breast, cervical, colon, lung and prostate cancers.

2. Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for many cancers, including breast, colon, endometrium, kidney, esophagus and pancreatic cancer. You can control your weight through regular exercise and healthy eating.

3. Exercise regularly.
Physical activity has been shown to lower the risk of several types of cancer, including breast, endometrium, prostate and colon cancer. Bonus: It also reduces the risk of other serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart disease. How much exercise should you get? Every week, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity (equal to a brisk walk) or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (makes your heart beat and breathing faster, and makes you sweat). Ideally, this should be spread throughout the week. Kids should get at least one hour of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity each day, with vigorous activity at least three days each week.

4. Eat a healthy diet.
Studies show that eating a lot of different vegetables and fruits, whole grains and fish or poultry is linked with a lower risk of developing certain cancers. On the other hand, eating more processed meats and red meat is linked with a higher risk of developing certain cancers. Specifically, the American Cancer Society recommends: Eating at least 2.5 cups of vegetables and fruits each day. Eating less red meat (beef, pork and lamb) and less processed meat (bacon, sausage, luncheon meats and hot dogs). Choosing breads, pastas and cereals made from whole grains instead of refined grains. Eating brown rice instead of white rice. Eating fewer sweets.

5. Avoid tobacco.
Tobacco use is responsible for nearly one out of every five deaths in the United States -- about 480,000 early deaths each year. Fully 80 percent of lung cancer deaths and 30 percent of all cancer deaths are caused by tobacco use. If you don't smoke, don't start. If you do smoke, quit.

6. Limit alcohol.
Research has shown that alcohol can increase your risk for certain kinds of cancer, including breast, mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, colon and rectal cancer. The more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk.

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