As a member of the bipartisan Congressional Families Cancer Prevention Program of the
Prevent Cancer Foundation ® , I want to share the following information as we observe National Cancer Prevention Month.
Nearly 1.8 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer in 2019 and more than 600,000 are expected to die of these diseases. In state alone, 33,140 will be diagnosed and 10,780 will die.
It may come as a surprise, but many cases of cancer are preventable. Up to 50 percent of
cancer diagnoses and about 50 percent of cancer deaths can be prevented. But it’s up to you to take the steps to reduce your cancer risk.
Don’t smoke. About 80 to 90 percent of all lung cancer cases are related to cigarette smoking. Tobacco products may increase your risk of several other types of cancer, including colorectal, liver, throat, cervical, bladder, mouth and esophageal cancers. The sooner you quit smoking or using tobacco products, the more you reduce your risk.
Protect your skin. Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S.— and the
most preventable. Even in the winter or on cloudy days, you should apply broad-spectrum
sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher when you spend time outdoors. Although most skin cancer
cases are caused by sun exposure, tanning beds are not a safe alternative and should be
Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active. Obesity is associated with at least 13
types of cancer, including post-menopausal breast, colorectal and kidney cancers, so it’s
important to eat a healthy diet full of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and limit red and
processed meats. Staying physically active may reduce your risk of certain cancers and also
eases stress, boosts your immune system and helps you maintain a healthy weight. Adults
should get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Kids and teens need at least an
hour of physical activity a day.
Get immunized. Vaccines can prevent certain viruses that have been linked to cancer. Most
cervical cancer cases are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV), but a vaccine to protect against the virus is available for boys and girls ages 11-12, and may be an option for teens and young adults. Hepatitis B and C are responsible for the majority of liver cancer cases in the U.S.; these cases could be prevented with the hepatitis B vaccine (which most Americans receive as babies) or hepatitis C treatment. Talk to a health care professional about these vaccines. HPV and hepatitis B are spread through sexual contact, so practicing safer sex can also reduce your risk.
Get screened. Screening can detect certain cancers early, when successful treatment is more likely, and some can even detect pre-cancerous conditions. Screening recommendations can vary depending on your age, gender, and personal and family medical history, so talk to a health care professional about screening for breast, cervical, lung, colorectal, skin or prostate cancers.
Make cancer prevention part of your daily routine by not smoking, eating a healthy diet,
exercising and wearing sunscreen. To learn more ways you can reduce your risk of cancer, visit www.preventcancer.org.
Nicole Beus Harris is the spouse of Representative Andy Harris, M.D. Statistics provided by the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute.