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Ways everyone can lower their cancer risk

Ways everyone can lower their cancer risk
Cancer… It’s a topic that’s typically avoided unless a personal or family situation or exposure to news coverage involving high-profile public personalities brings it front and center in your life. Patrick Fernandes, MD, radiation oncologist at Carle BroMenn Medical Center, agrees. “Generally, people do not want to think about cancer,” Dr. Fernandes says. “But, talking about cancer, and more specifically cancer risks and prevention with your doctor, family and friends, can help save lives.”

Experts, like Dr. Fernandes and his colleagues at Carle Health, have been saying for some time that many cancers may be preventable by changing everyday habits in favor of healthier lifestyles and by taking advantage of preventive cancer vaccines as they become available. “Small changes can bring big benefits,” Dr. Fernandes explains.

Five lifestyle changes you can make now include:
  1. Choose a healthy diet that includes a balanced variety of plant foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans, and avoid processed meats and red meat.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Move more as daily physical activity of at least 30 minutes helps prevent obesity and also helps regulate hormones that may encourage certain cancers.
  4. Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption.
  5. Protect your skin from the sun and avoid ultraviolet (UV) radiation from tanning beds.
While there is no way to say that following these five steps will guarantee a life free from cancer, there is sufficient research to support that these lifestyle changes can greatly reduce the risk of developing these diseases.

“Prevention also includes understanding your family history and working with your primary care provider to get suggested cancer screening tests and vaccines. These efforts help protect you as well as detect cancer earlier rather than later when it is easier to treat and survival rates are highest,” states Dr. Fernandes. “Everyone can take advantage of the risk reduction options we know about how to help prevent cancer. As we continue to learn more about the earliest stages of cancer and its connection to our environment and lifestyle choices, the closer we will be to preventing many other types of cancers and successfully treating and managing others.”

Talking about cancer could be the best way to help keep cancer at bay. Finding out if certain types of cancers run in your family can be helpful when making a preventative plan. Talking with a primary care doctor about the signs and symptoms of various cancers, can help identify potential issues before they intensify. Talking with friends about cancer prevention can help keep everyone healthier by supporting and encouraging healthy lifestyles, routine cancer screenings and age-appropriate vaccines.

To learn more about ways to reduce your chances of developing cancer, visit your primary care physician. For more information about life-saving cancer care at one of the Carle Cancer Institutes, visit

Categories: Staying Healthy

Tags: Cancer, Carle Cancer Institute Normal, , Healthy Living, Prevention