Health Watch -- Preventing Cancer

Health Watch is a Public Service of the  Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

A few simple lifestyle changes could help you lower your cancer risk.

Although there’s still a lot we don’t know about why cancer strikes, we do know enough about some cancers to lower your risks. The American Cancer Society and the Institute of Medicine estimate that up to 100,000 new cases of cancer and 60,000 cancer deaths could be prevented between now and the year 2015 if people adopted a few simple lifestyle changes.

Doctors at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say you can lower your cancer risk by avoiding prolonged or intense sun exposure, eating a well-balanced, nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding tobacco products.

Smoking is a major cause of lung cancer, and tobacco may also increase risks for mouth and throat cancer. Maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising regularly also helps lower your cancer risk. Recently, researchers reported that regular moderate exercise lowers breast cancer risks. Doctors also suggest eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as a way to help keep cancer at bay. The American Cancer Society reminds people to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

It’s also important to get regular checkups so that any cancer that does develop will be detected in its earliest stages.

Dr. James Huth, UT Southwestern’s chairman of surgical oncology, says these lifestyle changes can have a big impact not only on your cancer risk, but also your risk for heart disease.