Everyday Steps to Help Lower Your Cancer Risk

Every April the American Cancer Society and other organizations work together to raise awareness about cancer among minorities in honor of National Minority Health Month and National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, celebrated this year April 17-23. While minority groups in the United States continue to bear a greater cancer burden than whites, there are things everyone can do to help reduce their cancer risk or improve their chances of beating the disease if they do get it.

1. Get regular cancer screening tests.
Regular screening tests can catch some cancers early, when they’re more treatable. With a few cancers, these tests can even prevent cancer from developing in the first place. Talk with your doctor about the tests for colon, prostate, breast, and cervical cancers.

2. Control your weight.
Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for many cancers, including breast, colorectal, uterine, esophageal, and kidney. You can control your weight by exercising regularly and eating more healthfully.

3. Exercise regularly.
Physical activity has been shown to lower the risk of several types of cancer, including breast, prostate, and colon cancer. It also reduces the risk of other serious diseases like diabetes and heart disease. The Society recommends adults get at least 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on 5 or more days a week; 45 minutes to an hour is ideal.

4. Eat healthfully.
Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables (including legumes) and fruits each day. Aim for at least 3 servings of whole grains each day. Cutting back on processed and red meats may also help reduce the risk of colon and prostate cancers.

5. Stop smoking.
Smoking damages nearly every organ in the human body, is linked to at least 15 different cancers, and accounts for some 30 percent of all cancer deaths. Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your loved ones.

Reviewed by: Members of the ACS Medical Content Staff