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

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Nebraskans Meet with Lawmakers to Encourage Support for Cigarette Tax Increase

Over 100 volunteers and advocates from all over the state gathered together at the Nebraska State Capitol today in support of increasing taxes on tobacco products. Representatives from diverse groups such as the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the Nebraska Medical Association, the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, AARP, and numerous others gathered for a breakfast at the Cornhusker Hotel before moving on to the Capitol to meet with their respective Senators.

“This bill (LB 436) is going to save so many lives,” commented Marilyn Wise, an American Cancer Society volunteer from Fremont.  “A raise in this tax may make people stop and think ‘Do I really want to spend the money on something that’s not good for me’.  That’s the message I want to get across to my senator.”

In Nebraska, 2,200 kids under 18 become new daily smokers each year while the same amount of adults die prematurely each year in Nebraska from smoking.  In addition, tobacco use costs Nebraska $537 million in health care bills each year.  Higher cigarette taxes are one of the most effective ways to reduce smoking among both youth and adults and new revenue created by the increase would go to fund health programs including tobacco prevention and cessation in addition to helping with the state budget deficit.

“In addition to raising over one hundred million new dollars annually, the tobacco tax increase called for in LB 436 will save thousands of lives by helping smokers quit and keeping our young people from starting an addiction to nicotine,” commented David Holmquist, Director of State Legislative Government Relations for the American Cancer Society.  “In addition to saving lives and reducing suffering from tobacco use, funding from the bill will help medical providers continue seeing patients who may be most in need of their services.”

Groups such as the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids support higher tobacco taxes because it is a proven solution to improve public health.  Research has shown that every state that has significantly increased its cigarette tax has enjoyed substantial increases in revenue, even while reducing smoking.  In a recent poll, 73 percent of Nebraska voters surveyed support raising the tobacco tax by $1.35 per pack.