by Charles H. Booras, MD

revised 5/15/97

  • Don't Smoke. Smoking is responsible for about 30% of all cancer deaths. Those who smoke 2 or more packs a day are 15-20 times more likely to die of lung cancer than non-smokers.
  • Control your weight. Those who are 40% or more above a desirable weight increase their risk of colon, prostate, and gallbladder cancer.
  • Include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your daily diet. According to the National Cancer Institute, five daily servings or more is optimal.
  • Eat more high-fiber foods. Some good choices are whole-grain cereals, breads, and pasta's, as well as your fruits and vegetables. Diets high in fiber may reduce the risk of breast, prostate, and colon cancer.
  • Reduce your intake of fat. In particular, try to avoid saturated fat from animal products.
  • Limit your consumption of foods that have been salt-cured, smoked, or cured with nitrites. These foods are linked with an increased risk for cancer of the esophagus and stomach.
  • Limit daily alcohol intake to less than two drinks per day. One drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof spirits. Heavy drinkers have higher rates of oral and liver cancers.
  • Limit your exposure to sunlight, and use a sunscreen when you are in the sun. Unprotected exposure to the sun is a major factor in the more than 17,000 cases of melanoma diagnosed in the US each year. A full 50% of our lifetime's sun exposure has been acquired by the time we are 18 years old. So be sure to start protecting your kids at an early age by using a sunblock with an SPF of at least 15.
  • See your doctor for regular physical exams. Many cancers can be spotted at an early age when there are NO symptoms, or even prevented with some simple interventions. Treatment is always more effective when a diagnosis of cancer is made early on. Ask your doctor about an appropriate schedule of periodic health exams for you.

As you can see, many cancers are related to unhealthy lifestyles. The best cure for cancer lies in preventing it's occurrence through the adoption of a balanced approach to nutrition, weight control, and freedom from nicotine or alcohol abuse.
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