If an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, then tips to prevent cancer are worth their weight in gold. Amy Schell, MD, a Baptist Health Medical Group physician in Lexington, specializing in adult hematology and oncology, shares her best pointers for avoiding the five most common cancers treated at Baptist Health Lexington.
Prevent Breast Cancer
Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, Dr. Schell said.
Fast Fact: Being overweight after menopause increases breast cancer risk by 30 to 60 percent.
Drinking alcohol – even moderately – is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer, Dr. Schell said. No more than one drink per day is recommended for most people.
Prevent Lung Cancer
Tobacco use is associated with 90 percent of lung cancer deaths, Dr. Schell said, so the best prevention is avoiding tobacco.
Radon, a naturally occurring radioactive gas, is also a factor in lung cancer risk. Many Kentucky houses have the potential for elevated radon levels, Dr. Schell said.
Fast Fact: It’s a good idea to test your home and know the radon level. Long-term testing is the most accurate.
Prevent Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in men in America. The most significant risks for prostate cancer are advancing in age and family history. African-American men have a higher risk of prostate cancer.
Advice: Those with a family history of prostate cancer should be screened regularly.
Some evidence suggests that a low-fat diet could also help with prevention. Eating leaner cuts of meat and more fat from plants (think seeds and avocado) than animals will put you on the right track.
Prevent Colon Cancer
As with breast cancer, being overweight is a link to colon cancer. Exercise can reduce the risk, even independent of body weight, Dr. Schell said.
Fast Stat: Eating 50 grams of processed meat every day – about four strips of bacon or one hot dog – increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18 percent.
Screening for colon cancer should begin at age 50 for most people, or earlier for those with a family history, Dr. Schell said.
Since melanoma is associated with sun exposure, prevention involves – you guessed it – staying out of the sun.
Advice: Limit time outside during the hottest part of the day, and wear sunscreen every day, whether it’s sunny or not.
Find out more about Baptist Health Cancer Care.