OP-ED: Cancer Prevention is a Commitment for Life
By: Mrs. Brenda Fleischmann
Cancer Prevention is a Commitment for Life
If you’re like myself and many other Americans, you may already be neglecting your New Year’s resolutions. But consider the big picture: lifestyle changes like exercising more and eating better are long-term strategies that may reduce your risk of cancer. About 1.7 million men and women in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in 2018, with 36,760 diagnoses in Tennessee alone—but many of these cancer cases are preventable. February is National Cancer Prevention Month, and a great time to commit to a lifetime of healthy choices—for yourself and your loved ones—that can reduce your risk of cancer. Here are four ways to get started.
- Get screened. Regular screenings for breast, cervical and colorectal (and lung for those at high risk) cancers have been shown to reduce cancer deaths. Men should talk to their health care professionals about the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening.
- Protect your skin. Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and one of the most preventable. Avoid sun exposure between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., or if you need to be outside, wear sunglasses and a hat, and use sunscreen with at least SPF 30 with UVA and UVB protection to reduce your risk (even if it’s cloudy). Never use tanning beds or sun lamps.
- Exercise. Research shows that regular exercise can reduce your risk of colorectal, breast and endometrial cancers; more recent evidence links exercise to reduced risk of additional cancers, including liver and kidney cancers. Adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week, and children should get at least an hour daily.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity has been linked to at least 13 types of cancer, including post-menopausal breast, colorectal and liver cancers. Eating a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, while limiting red meat and alcohol, can help you maintain a healthy weight.
Think beyond short-term goals for a lifetime of health. To learn more about cancer prevention and early detection, you can visit www.preventcancer.org.
Brenda Fleischmann is the spouse of Representative Chuck Fleischmann and a member of the Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program. Statistics provided by the American Cancer Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.